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Appendix d: 1959 library acquisitions policy

The suggestions contained in this report are proposed as a statement of policy in determining future library acquisitions.

Two factors have particularly influenced decision in this matter (1) the strength of collections at present in the library, and (2) the proximity of two large libraries (Columbia University Library and The New York Public Library) in this area.

Before considering the collections in The New-York Historical Society Library, however, it seems proper here to mention two aspects of general ac­quisition policy. It has been the practice in instances of purchases of material for $100.00 or more, to await action by the Library Committee and the Board, or in cases where immediate action was necessary, to refer decision to the President of the Society. It is suggested that this practice be continued. When gifts of library material are offered it is suggested that such material be accepted with the understanding that if it does not complement already existing collections this material can be offered for exchange or otherwise used to benefit the library. Thus, the thoughtfulness of donors may be rewarded by the knowledge that the gifts which they have presented have been, in one way or other, of benefit to the library.

Limitations concerning primary material in the following report are not de­signed to eliminate the acquisitions of material principally concerning New York­ers or of distinct New York interest.

In the report which follows, the expression "Primary material" shall be con­strued to mean diaries, journals, and letters in manuscript form, official documents and "rare books."

The following material briefly described constitutes the major collections in the library.

1. slavery collection

This collection includes thousands of books and pamphlets concerning slavery and reconstruction. Among the pamphlets are sermons, tracts, etc., in defense of, or against slavery. The collection is used regularly and will be used even more, it is safe to say, in view of the great interest in the background of the Civil War.

Some idea of the strength of this collection may be ascertained from the following statistics, relating to the number of titles listed under Slavery in the three major research libraries in the area:

New York Public Library 5,000

Columbia University Library 3,000

The New-York Historical Society Library 9,135

  • It is suggested that the Library continue to collect primary material relating to slavery in the United States.
  • It is suggested that secondary material in the field noted above, be purchased only selectively on the basis of reviews in the outstanding historical journals.

2. california gold rush and early southwest exploration period

The bulk of our California Gold Rush material was originally collected as a re­sult of the interest of a former librarian who migrated to California during the Gold Rush days. The collection consists of newspapers, pamphlets, early guides to California, etc.

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Source:  OpenStax, The new-york historical society: lessons from one nonprofit's long struggle for survival. OpenStax CNX. Mar 28, 2008 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10518/1.1
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