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MIT Libraries Staff Web

Gifts: Gifts Acceptance Policy

Gift Acceptance Policy

(Last Revised 10/18/2011)

Scope of the Gifts Program
The MIT Libraries welcome gifts that focus on unique or specialized content not readily available in other collections. Especially desirable are works on little-known topics, materials produced by members of the MIT community, unusual items, and small collections of related materials that would enhance our academic collection. The focus of the Gifts Program is to accept these valuable materials, while no longer retrospectively building historical collections or considering gifts as an alternative method of extending funds for collection development.

While the essential consideration in deciding whether to accept a gift should always be the gift's potential for addition to the Libraries' collections, other benefits are derived from the Gifts Program. First, gifts may be offered by faculty and other members of the MIT community with whom we maintain relationships for a variety of reasons. Second, acceptance of gifts may enhance relations with potentially important donors from outside the MIT community. These benefits are important aspects of the Gifts Program.

Contacts & Responsibility
The primary responsibility for accepting gifts is with the Gifts Librarian and Collections Strategy and Management (CSM.) This group will work to reduce the amount of gifts accepted by the Libraries using the criteria outlined in the Gifts of Materials: Information for Potential Donors policy and this Gifts Acceptance Policy, balanced against the resources available for processing gift materials.

Gifts are treated as new acquisitions and thus are evaluated by the same standards applied to new purchases to safeguard quality, consistency, and relevance to the needs of the Libraries. For this reason, it is essential that selectors be involved in gift acceptance decisions. In particular, large gifts falling within identifiable subject areas should be discussed with the appropriate subject selector prior to acceptance of the gift. The Gifts Librarian and Collections Strategy and Management (CSM) will work with subject selectors and the MIT Archives, when appropriate, to evaluate possible donations and the relevant relationship manager for the donation.

The Gifts Program works with many different units in the Libraries including Institute Archives, Acquisitions, Metadata and Enterprise Systems (AMES), Collections Strategy and Management (CSM), Curation and Preservation Services (CPS), and Donor Relations and Stewardship. The Gifts Librarian, CSM, and subject selectors will consult with the heads of these units as necessary, particularly before agreeing to accept a gift of more than 25 items.

Relationship of Gifts Program to Archives
The Gifts Program occasionally receives offers that are more suitable for the MIT Archives. More frequently, the Archives staff working with offices around campus identifies materials that are more appropriately referred to the Gifts Program.  The Gifts Librarian and Collections Strategy and Management (CSM) will work with the Archives to develop efficient ways to manage the relationships between donors, Archives staff, and subject selectors involved in gift acceptance, as appropriate.  Subject selectors will need to be familiar with the collecting policies of the Archives, and may refer to guidelines on the Archives web site:

The Libraries’ goal in accepting gifts is to acquire only materials which are:

  • unique or specialized
  • not readily available in other collections
  • in good physical condition

The relationship of the donor to the Libraries may also be used as criteria for assessing the gifts.

The needs of a university research library are both varied and specific. This may exclude some of the items people often wish to donate. The MIT Libraries are not accepting:

  • Textbooks
  • Mass-market paperbacks
  • Books, journals and magazines which duplicate our holdings (see or are readily available in other collections
  • Individual issues or small runs of scholarly journal issues
  • Popular magazines (i.e. National Geographic, Smithsonian, etc.)
  • U.S. government publications
  • Materials in poor condition or exhibiting signs of mold or mildew
  • Materials that contains highlighting, underlining, or annotations (unless annotations are of significant scholarly value)
  • Materials in outmoded formats (8-track tapes, 5.25-inch computer disks, LPs, Betamax)
  • Electronic materials requiring dated software/hardware
  • Materials which might cause the library to be liable for copyright infringement (i.e., copied audio and video recordings.)

Because of the high cost of storage and processing, the Libraries are unable to accept all donations. While gift items are free of charge for the Libraries to acquire, there are still costs associated with stabilizing physical formats and processing the item for the collection (ranging from security tape to call number labels to cataloging for access).

Donors who offer to make gifts of cash to help reduce our processing costs or to assist us in building, managing and preserving our Libraries’ Collection should be referred to Keith Glavash, Associate Director for Administrative Services at 617.253.7059 or  For more information visit

Assessing Collections of Gifts
A collection of gifts will be defined as more than 25 items. Offers of collections of materials may require special consideration:

  • When gift collections are processed by the MIT Libraries they are generally not kept together as a group.
  • Offers of collections should be discussed with the Gifts Librarian before taking any further steps.
  • Any collection of more than 25 items being considered for acceptance requires consultation with the Gifts Librarian and the Heads of Acquisitions, Metadata and Enterprise Systems before any items are accepted.
  • Consultation with CPS for physical assessment of gift may need to occur.
  • Collections should be carefully considered on a case-by-case basis involving all stakeholders. Factors to be considered include the value of the collection in meeting the Libraries’ goals, the nature of processing required, and donor concerns.
  • If there is significant value for our community and significant processing costs will be required, it may be appropriate for Collections Strategy and Management (CSM) to consult with the Associate Director of Information Resources and the Head of Donor Relations and Stewardship.

Existing Gift Relationships
The MIT Libraries have existing relationships with various parts of the MIT Community and the donated materials are considered as part of the Gifts Program. Although the Gifts Program has been reduced, these acquisitions will continue:

  • Items given by the faculty for reserves or in support of a class
  • MIT Press books and e-books
  • Linguistic Inquiry materials
  • List Visual Arts Center exhibition catalogs
  • Sloan Management Review materials
  • Gifts from the offices of the President and Provost
  • Gift replacement copies of lost items

Gift Streams
The MIT Libraries receive gifts from many different sources. Please refer to the procedures below for whichever is most applicable:

Retiring faculty members or faculty members cleaning out their offices Refer them to Collections Strategy and Management or the Gifts Program, or x3-5691

Requests to donate collections of materials from alumni Refer them to Collections Strategy and Management or the Gifts Program, or x3-5691

Requests to donate collections of materials from outside the MIT community Refer them to Collections Strategy and Management or the Gifts Program, or x3-5691

Unsolicited items sent directly to the Gifts Program The Gifts Librarian will determine if the material is worthy of selector review and search Barton; if not in Barton, the material will be routed for a decision.  Material that does not fit our collection policies or any journal issues will be disposed of via one of the methods listed under “Disposal Options.”

Items received at the service desks at the libraries

If a patron wants to donate a gift of more than 5 items, you should refer them to the appropriate Subject Selector or Collections Strategy and Management and/or refer them to our Giving Page:

If a patron wants to donate 5 or fewer items, you can accept them at the desk. 
If the donor would like to be acknowledged for their gift, please have them fill out and sign a Donor Form.
If the donor does not want to be acknowledged, no form is necessary. The donation should be counted and noted on the monthly Anonymous Gifts Statistics Form.
Give any books you receive, along with any completed Donor Forms to the appropriate selector/CSM, or place on the designated shelf for Gifts in your library.

Donations from MIT departments, staff and students Refer them to Collections Strategy and Management or the Gifts Program, or x3-5691

Director’s Office Send any gifts of material received to the Gifts Program, Rm.14E-210A

Disposal Options
The MIT Libraries will usually not select all items in a donation. The items that are not chosen may be removed from the Libraries via the following methods:

  • Better World Books
  • GotBooks bin just outside Building 56, on the side that faces Building 57 and Stata.
  • Free boxes at the various library locations, including our book exchange in The Libraries’ space at Stata Center
  • Refer to other organizations
  • Zubal Books
  • Brattle Book Shop
  • Refer to Used Book Dealers in the Yellow Pages or directories on the Web
  • Recycle the materials that are not selected

Donors may also be referred directly to the above options for their donation, as appropriate.

Acknowledgement for Gifts
The MIT Libraries will issue a dated and signed acknowledgement letter from the Director of Libraries to serve as receipt of accepted gifts for tax purposes; unsolicited gifts may not be acknowledged. 

Checklist for Selectors When Determining Acceptance of Items
This should be its own document (to be developed further by CSM and Archives) containing items such as the bullet points below:

  • If retiring faculty, research the other recently retired faculty in the discipline and whether or not they have given their papers to the Archives. Ask faculty about their papers.
  • How big? Number of linear feet or number of boxes?
  • Subject scope?
  • Time constraints of donor?
  • Time span of collection
  • Uniqueness?
  • Where is it stored?
  • Physical Condition?
  • Donor’s relationship to MIT?
  • Can donor get the gift to us?