Re: Digest Number 2268

Denny Anspach <danspach@...>

I do realize that a public entity such as a state museum may not
be free to "de-access" donated materials. Yet CSRM, for one, has often
sold donated books, usually immediately upon receipt when they are
duplicates. It's interesting that they cloak themselves in the
"property of the people of California" flag when they want something,
but dump it promptly if it's not needed.

Tony, you must have some misunderstanding. There is a perception here that uncorrected places the CSRM in an undeserved bad light.

The CSRM cannot, and ipso facto does not sell, dispose, or even return to any donor any materials whatsoever, once the gift documents are signed, period. It is illegal, much less unethical to do so. Materials that are given to the CSRM Foundation are entirely another matter, and if donors do not know or understand the difference at the time or donation, they simply have to live under a rock.

Now, that said, (and I am not conversant with the relevant state laws), I see no ethical or other reason why any donor as a condition of donation to any organization specify that in the case of any de-accession the materials cannot be offered to the original donor the right of first refusal. The recipient can either accept or reject that condition, and if the condition is no acceptable, the donation will simply not go through.

Of course, just as the recipient of a donation by law can have no part in monetary evaluation and/or determination of tax issues accruing to the donor, then in similar fashion, they would also take no part of any tax issues raised for the original donor receiving back the original goods (i.e. donor takes tax advantage at time of gift. Then, has to give back at time of goods return- perhaps at a much inflated appraised taxable value). Things can get complicated.

Over the years, I have been routinely donating materials to the CSRM. Most are given to the Foundation with full understanding that they may be transferred to the CSRM proper, sold, transferred, or traded if the materials are deemed duplicated, relatively unimportant, or out of field. In this regard, my intention is that the net end-product proceeds of the donation, whether it be the materials actually donated, or in kind goods or money be devoted to CSRM purposes. Usually, the cash generated in such donations goes into vital "opportunity acquisition" funds, i.e. relatively unfettered money immediately available if a person walks in through the front door and offers for sale on the barrel head artifacts or documents that you simply cannot fund expediently in any other manner.

Other of my donations are deliberately given to the CSRM proper, some with distinct caveats as to my specific wishes of how the artifacts are to be treated. In some cases, these caveats became a subject of constructive negotiation, but in no case were the donations finalized until there was a meeting of the minds in these regards- in writing.

I have also given the CSRM a third type of donation: materials that I perceive to have such questionable value that I give them specific permission to trash before even taking formal note of contents or inventory. I do not do this often, but I will do so at times rather than take the obviously more convenient route- i.e. direct to my own trash.

I have a feeling that the circumstances here at the CSRM are not at all unique amongst other serious libraries in these several regards.


Denny S. Anspach, MD
Sacramento, California

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