Mission Statement


Mission and Vision Statements

Mission: The Iowa State University Library Special Collections and University Archives collects, preserves, and shares documentation of the experiences, achievements, and memories of people and organizations reflecting the university's major research areas, with a special commitment to documenting the history of the university. Supporting the land-grant ideals of putting science, technology and human creativity to work, we strive to enrich learning and encourage investigation. We are an invaluable resource to Iowa State University and the public.

Vision: To engage and encourage innovative research, interdisciplinary education, exploration, and discovery.


  Subject Areas for Collecting: The Broad Perspective

The Special Collections Department's subject area concentrations emanate from major research/education areas conducted at Iowa State University. They are documented through the identification and selection of rare and unique documentary materials created and accumulated by Iowa State University and its members as well as from individuals and organizations external to the university. The collecting interests and the extent of collecting activity in them increases and decreases over time as academic research programs develop and diminish at Iowa State University. The purpose of this approach is to serve well the Iowa State University research community and to bring to it the rare and unique research materials these users require.

Digital collections policy


  Geographical Considerations:

Whenever possible, efforts to document the primary and secondary subject areas outlined in section II will adhere to the following geographic criteria, appearing in rank order:

  • Within the State of Iowa
  • Within the Great Plains/U.S. Midwest (grasslands and temperate deciduous forest geographic subregions)
  • Within the United States


  Record Formats and Chronological Considerations:

Rare book and ephemeral print matter will concentrate on U.S. pre-1900 items according to the subject areas outlined in section II above. Selection guidelines based upon the intrinsic and artifactual values of rare books are forthcoming.

Non-print areas (university archives, manuscripts, WISE Archives, photographic and audio-visual materials), will broadly include 19th and 20th century materials, being weighted more heavily toward the 20th century. Nineteenth century and early 20th century materials will be collected when opportunities present themselves.


  The following are the primary subject areas of collecting activity:

Life Sciences

  • Plant and Crop Sciences
  • Zoology and Animal Sciences
  • Biological Sciences
  • Aspects of Chemistry (i.e. organic and biochemistry)
  • Environmental and Ecological Sciences

Agriculture and Rural Life

  • Animal Sciences
  • Veterinary Medicine
  • Soil and Seed Sciences
  • Crop Sciences
  • Entomology/Pest Control
  • Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering and Technology
  • Food/Nutritional Sciences
  • Rural Life, particularly economic and social/family development

Engineering (Primary Areas):

  • Agricultural Engineering
  • Civil Engineering and Transportation
  • Energy and Electrical Power Management (i.e. energy management, consumption, efficiency, production, conversion and transmission, primarily of a non-nuclear nature)


  The following documentation areas are no longer actively acquired by the Iowa State University Library Special Collections Department:

  1. Papers and records relating to the Evolution/Creation debate
  2. Statistics-related papers and records unrelated to the American Statistical Association
  3. Underground Comics and Science Fiction publication


 A. Transfer of Records Procedure

  • The University Archives will accept the transfer of university records which are scheduled for permanent retention only. It will not accept records which are scheduled for destruction. University records considered for transmittal to the University Archives for permanent retention must be reviewed by the University Records Analyst and approved by the University Archivist (Head, Special Collections Department) prior to transfer acceptance. All transfer of records must be placed in acid-free records cartons (supplied by the University Archives) and accompanied by a listing of the contents.

B. Deeds of Gift

  • The Special Collections Department will not accept materials without a legal transfer of title through a deed of gift, deposit agreement, transfer of records form, or other official acknowledgement. All transmittal forms must be signed by the Department Head and the donor/official from the transferring office.

C. Loans and Deposits

  • The Special Collections Department will not accept materials on loan or for deposit.

D. Closed Collections

  • The Special Collections Department will not accept materials that are closed to the public in perpetuity; all restricted materials will be designated with an opening date prior to donation/transfer acceptance by the Special Collections Department.

E. Deaccessioning

  • Materials that do not reflect the Special Collections Department's collecting scope or do not possess sufficient archival value may be deaccessioned, subject to the documented terms of acquisition, university regulations, and state and federal laws. Duplicate materials may be routinely discarded as well.

F. Revision of Policy

  • The Special Collections Department reserves the right to amend its collection development policy at any time.

  Procedures for Monitoring and Reviewing Collection Development Guidelines:

This collection development policy is designed to serve the mission and goals of Iowa State University, its Library, and its Special Collections Department. In order to determine the effectiveness of this policy, at the end of each three-year period, the Department Head will review the acquisitions, user records, and deaccessions within the three years. The policy will be re-evaluated and changed as needed to meet the goals of Iowa State University, its Library, and its Special Collections Department.


Revised: May 2015