Collection Development

It is the duty of the Team Lead of Special Collections and the Dean of the Library to seek out, consider, and accept items for inclusion in our holdings. Items falling into the scope of the collections areas defined below will be given serious consideration, and items outside the scope will be considered on an individual basis, with such considerations as to its relevance to the University's curriculum, conditions or stipulations imposed by the donor, overall condition and preservation needs, and whether it would be better housed in another repository.

Special Collections acquires items and collections primarily through donations. The purchase of items is considered on an individual basis as items and funds become available. 

Collection Areas

Items accepted and housed in Special Collections should fall into one of the following categories:

  • Manuscripts
    We collect manuscripts and personal papers related to Chattanooga, the Tennessee Valley, and the South.
  • University Archives
    We acquire university records and publications with long-term historical, legal, fiscal and administrative value. Additionally, we collect scholarship and creative works authored by the university's academic community.
  • Rare Books
    We acquire books related to Chattanooga, Tennessee, and the South. Monographs that support teaching and learning at the university may also be considered. Fragile, rare, irreplaceable, and valuable books will be added to the collection at our discretion.


Special Collections accepts books, journals, newspapers, yearbooks, annuals, manuscripts, archives, ephemeral materials, film, video, and a variety of other original materialsOur archival holdings contain a very broad range of formats and material types including, but not limited to, paper documents, photographs, slides, film, electronic records, sound recordings, moving images, and objects. Emphasis is placed on acquiring items in their original states. Special Collections does not collect facsimiles of archival material and purchases facsimiles of rare books sparingly.


Items and collections with are loaned to Special Collections must have a clear date and time to which they are returned to the lender or become property of the university.

Other Considerations

Special Collections considers the following regarding donations and acquisitions:

  • materials which present a financial drain to to conservation or preservation needs;
  • items which Special Collections is unable or unqualified to properly house and preserve;
  • donations with conditions, stipulations, or legal encumbrances which make their access and use too restrictive or impractical;
  • and duplicate materials already housed in Special Collections or other local repositories.