Re: Archives in general, was ICC Library Holdings at Denver

pullmanboss <tgmadden@...>

James Mischke:
The archival ethic states that the original donor is considered
just another
patron, to be mistreated like any other. Ask the GM&OHS about
their experience.
Everything must be inventoried before it is accessable. Donations
must come with
no strings attached, the museum should be free to dispose with the
materials as
they wish. And dispose they do. Archival donations offered with
attached are customarily refused.
Um... that's the Colorado Railroad Museum Library's policy on
acquisitions. No strings attached, all reproduction rights come with
the collection, no restrictions or right of first refusal on the
library's right to dispose of all or part of a collection in any
manner. I've been cataloging photo collections for the CRRM Library
for some time and have asked how that policy applies to donated
photographs not taken by the donor but bearing a backstamp reserving
duplication rights to the photographer. I'm not sure I've gotten a
straight answer, but the assumption is that those photos could be
sold but not reproduced by the Library. Another complicating factor
is the habit of early railfan photographers to shoot multiples and
swap negatives with their friends. Not every negative in a
photographer's collection was taken by that photographer.

The freedom to dispose of parts of donated collections without
restriction is important. Every week well-meaning heirs want to send
us their "historic" Colorado railroad photos, which they're certain
will form the centerpiece of our collection. Most of them turn out
to be slides of grandma's trip on the Silverton in 1967. Believe me,
no matter how good they are, they aren't going to add anything to
the Library's ample supply of Kindig shots! We usually decline with
thanks, but if pressed will accept. We look at everything and will
add unique items to our holdings. Items of value which we already
have in multiple, like timetables, passes, stock certificates and
brochures, will end up in the museum's annual auction. The rest??
Well, we do have a dumpster. Donors need to understand that once
they donate an item, their notion of the value or significance of
that item no longer matters and they have to trust the
professionalism and ethical sense of the receiving institution.

Tom Madden

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