Local History & Special Collections Development Policy
The Lawrence Public Library is dedicated to preserving and promoting the history and culture of Lawrence, Massachusetts. We are proud to offer our patrons access to our wide range of books, magazines, and other media, as well as our Special Collections Development Policy. This policy ensures that our library is actively developing its collections with materials that are relevant to our local community and its history. We strive to ensure that our library remains an invaluable and accessible resource for our patrons.
The Local History Room at the Lawrence Public Library collects, organizes, preserves and provides access to a non-circulating collection of primary and secondary sources that document the history of the City of Lawrence, its residents, government, environment, businesses, institutions, and organizations.
Scope of Collection
The collection includes, but is not limited to, personal manuscript and photograph collections; records of
local churches, businesses, and nonprofit organizations such as the Robert Frost Foundation and the
White Fund; and numerous papers and published products of city government agencies including
engineering plans, maps, and photographs, school department records and high school yearbooks;
police logs; and fire alarm logs. Highlights include a small selection of primary records and a
comprehensive collection of published works by the poet Robert Frost. Secondary sources such as books
and journals published about the city, religion, immigration, and especially the 19 th and 20 th century mill
and factory industries are also included, along with a broader scope of textiles. Also included is a robust
vertical file collection of newspaper clippings covering hundreds of topics and highlights of Lawrence
residents, as well as a collection of local newspapers on microfilm from the 19 th and 20 th century.
Criteria for Inclusion
● Relevance to Lawrence
● Authenticity of record
● Non-duplication of material within the collection
● Quality of physical form of material
● Cost to preserve, store and process
● Restrictions by donor
Items may be accepted in any format, including manuscript, printed, or digital. Photographs and
documents may be removed from their frames if accepted into the collection. Three dimensional
artifacts will not be accepted by the Library unless they can be properly housed and are deemed
appropriate to the collection.
Donating to the Collection
Because history is created daily, materials that enhance the mission of the Local History Collection and
meet the selection criteria will be accepted by the library. The Local History Room staff will not create
any new historical documents, only collect, preserve, and make accessible those created by other
people and/or organizations. In order to establish the transfer of ownership, the Library requests that a
deed of gift be completed by the donor/representative and the Local History Librarian/Archivist. The
deed of gift documents the donation of property and transfer of copyright (if applicable) to the Library,
and is signed by the donor. It also includes a complete description of the donated item and information
regarding past ownership of that item. The deed of gift also establishes conditions (if any) governing the
transfer of the title from the donor to the Library. Once the deed of gift is signed by the donor, the
donated item becomes the property of the Library. Loans for exhibits may be asked for from time to
time, but no permanent material loans will be accepted by the Local History Room.
The Library reserves the right to refuse an offered donation. The Library will not accept material that can
harm other material in the collection, such as anything that shows damage from mold, mildew, water,
insects, smoke, or dirt. The Library may also decide not to accept items which it cannot properly store,
display, or otherwise care for.
The Library will only accept material with access-limiting restrictions when the restrictions are
reasonable and necessary to protect the legitimate rights and interests of the donor. Any restrictions
will be recorded on the deed of gift, and will be adhered to by the Library. All restrictions will specify a
date when full access will be granted.
The Library reserves the right to decide how the donated material will be displayed or stored, how the
item may be used by the public, and how long the item will be retained. Materials in the local history
collection (especially photographs and negatives) may be scanned and placed on the Internet for
viewing, may be moved from the local history collection to other sections of the library, may be sold, or
may be transferred to another library (See Reappraisal and Deaccession).
Reappraisals and Deaccession
From time to time, the Local History Collection will be reappraised, and the deaccession of some
materials may take place. The Library will offer the deaccessioned materials to appropriate institutions
or return them to the donor, depending on requirements of the donor’s deed of gift.
Care of Collections
The Local History Room strives to organize, preserve, and provide access to its collection. A finding aid (a
description of a collection with a content list) will be prepared for each collection, and will be accessible
to the public. The materials in each collection are organized according to the original order (when
applicable), and placed in archival containers. The Local History Room will follow the security practices
and disaster planning set by the Library to protect the collection from potential loss or damage.
The Library will not conduct any monetary appraisals for donors.