collecting policy

n. guidelines outlining the scope and selection of materials that support a repository’s mission


For decades, the archives profession has not had consensus about the content of a collecting policy or even the proper terminology for such a policy. Archivists borrowed the idea from the library profession and developed it with much debate throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Collecting policy is synonymous with collection development policy, acquisition policy, and collection policy as well as other less common terms collection development statement and documentation policy, which was coined by William J. Maher in The Management of College and University Archives (Society of American Archivists, 1992). Currently, collecting policy is the more widely used term in the archival literature of North America. Generally, a collecting policy defines the scope of existing collections and also describes processes such as deselection, retention, preservation, and storage. It provides guidance for archives staff, organizations and individuals interested in donating, and other collecting repositories.