Forbes Library Special Collections
Collection Development Policy


Forbes Library is the public library for Northampton, Massachusetts. Its Mission Statement applies to all collections and services. Special Collections are also governed by the library’s Collection Development Policy. The library’s commitment to intellectual freedom can be found in that policy and in the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights. The library adheres to collections management best practices as outlined in the American Association for State and Local History’s Statement of Professional Standards and Ethics, the American Alliance of Museums’ Code of Ethics for Museums, and the Society of American Archivists’ Core Values Statement and Code of Ethics

The Special Collections consist of materials relevant to the history and culture of Northampton and Hampshire County, and the life and career of President Calvin Coolidge, in a variety of physical and digital formats. They include printed books, manuscripts, maps, photographs, prints, periodicals, scrapbooks, original works of art, microfilm, audiovisual materials, memorabilia and other physical and digital objects. 



The collections are part of the history of Northampton, Massachusetts. The materials and subject areas they represent have permanent value to the community. The materials in these collections are intended for research and therefore do not circulate. They are made available to the general public for research on local, genealogical or historical issues. Materials are acquired to document and record the community and its people and provide for future researchers, not solely for monetary or investment value.


Outline and Scope of Collections

  • local history
    • history of Northampton, Hampshire County and Connecticut River Valley from the 17th century to the present.
  • genealogy
    • family history materials including physical and digital items related to residents of the Northampton area.
  • photography and images
    • documenting Northampton and the surrounding area: people, buildings, events, and landscape. Significant sub-collections of photographs include the Daily Hampshire Gazette negatives, Walter Corbin and Robert Emrick Collections, and the crowdsourced “Midnight to Midnight” digital photography project created in 2014.
  • fine arts
    • part of the original collecting mission; two- and three-dimensional works by locally and nationally known artists. Most works are on display in the building for public viewing.
  • Calvin Coolidge, 30th President of the United States
    • The Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library & Museum at Forbes Library is the largest source of primary material on Calvin and Grace Coolidge. The collection consists of manuscripts, speeches, letters, videos, recordings, microfilms, photographs, paintings, scrapbooks, broadsides, and artifacts. It documents Calvin Coolidge in his local, state and national political career with official and personal papers. 
    • CCPLM Mission and Priorities (Appendix)
  • Digital collections
    • born-digital content such as photographs and video/audio recordings
    • digitized versions of physical materials in the collection or received from other sources
    • Web archiving: Forbes Library Local History and Special Collections staff identify websites for archiving with the help of community input. The collection is designed to document our current times, complement our special collections and reflect the community as a whole. The Northampton Community Web Archive is continually updated.


Collection Development Goals

An active effort is made to add to the recognized strengths of the collections in the Local History and Special Collections Departments. We collaborate with community partners such as Historic Northampton, David Ruggles Center and other local history institutions to avoid duplication and competition for collections. Library staff solicit gifts, consult with dealers, online vendors, and examine publishers’ catalogs and book review publications for the purchase or acquisition of the following types of material:

  • Materials that record the history, development, and current life of the City of Northampton and the greater Hampshire County area. Materials that record the history and ancestry of Northampton area families. 
  • Materials that contribute to a better understanding of the area’s geography, climate, demographics, culture and built landscape.
  • Materials by and about Calvin Coolidge, his family and career. The Coolidge Museum mission focuses on collecting Coolidge materials 1895-1957 and collaborates with the President Coolidge State Historic Site, The Coolidge Foundation and the Vermont Historical Society to collect, loan, exhibit and share materials
  • Materials representing the creative life of the community, including artists’ interpretations of local places and works by local artists (limited as to display and storage space)
  • Materials with Northampton or Hampshire County as a subject. Works written by local authors with no local subject will be added to circulating collections with local author stickers. 
  • Materials that provide instruction relating to genealogy, local history, preservation, oral history and similar topics (“how to”) will be added to the circulating collection.
  • Materials created by or representing the experiences of historically underrepresented members of our community. 


Selection Criteria

Acceptance of additions to the permanent collections shall be made based on the following conditions:

  • The acquisition must meet the Library’s mission statement and the purpose of the Special Collections and Coolidge Presidential Library
  • Collections will maintain authority, authenticity and reliability
  • Materials should have educational, interpretive, and/or exhibit value
  • Donated materials must be clean of mildew and mold, and be physically stable
  • The Library must have the resources to properly house and preserve the acquisition
  • All possible efforts must have been taken to ensure that the present owner has clear title and no conflict of interest with the Library or Museum
  • The donor must be willing to sign the Library’s Deed of Gift, with no restrictions concerning use or further disposition of the acquisition 
  • If an item is being purchased, staff must arrange and verify funding before purchase
  • The Library shall not authenticate an item or provide an appraisal of its monetary value


Limitations On The Addition Of Materials

Gifts to the Library are evaluated under the same conditions as purchased materials (see Collection Development Policy: Gifts to Specialty Collections). The Library Director and the Board of Trustees may decline to accept for the Special Collections Department any gift of material that seems inappropriate to the collections or that would be more appropriate in another repository. In such cases, the would-be donor should be informed of the scope of the Local History Department collections and, if possible, put in touch with an institution that might wish to accept the offered gift. 

The Library may refuse to accept materials that are:

  • Outside the library’s mission and scope;
  • Deteriorated or lacking in physical integrity;
  • Inauthentic;
  • Duplicate;
  • Irrelevant.

The Library may also decline to accept gifts that are too large to be accommodated in the climate controlled Special Collections spaces. Similarly, the availability of staffing to process a sizeable addition to the Local History Department collections may be a factor. 


Collection Maintenance

In keeping with the purpose, nature and scope of the Special Collections, weeding of these collections does not follow the same guidelines as those set out for the Circulating and General Reference collections. As part of the heritage of Northampton, these collections have more permanent historic and cultural value. 

However, physical space limitations combined with the ongoing need to add new materials, and changes in technology and archival practices, make it necessary to periodically reevaluate the composition of the collections.


Deaccessioning Criteria

The first consideration in applying a weeding policy to these collections is the recognition of three distinct categories of materials and the nature of each category. 

These categories can be defined as follows:

  1. Permanent Historical Value
    • First editions of local histories
    • Items signed by, or from the collections of Calvin or Grace Coolidge
    • Original documents, pamphlets, maps and manuscripts; 
    • Original photographs, portraits and other works of art; 
    • Other materials deemed to be of a similar nature.

All items of permanent intrinsic value are valuable to the cultural heritage of Northampton in and of themselves. These materials should be preserved and permanently retained. Little to no deaccessioning is expected in this category.

  1. Permanent Informational Value: Other materials in the collections are of permanent value for their informational content, but are not intrinsically valuable. Items that fall into this category are candidates for replacement and/or reformatting should space considerations or the condition of the material make it desirable to do so. Informational value can be preserved by replacing items in poor condition with reprints or micro formats, although digital versions of materials with permanent informational value should not be the only medium retained. Management of materials in this category is an ongoing process within the department.
  2. Temporary Informational Value: Time sensitive materials, current informational reference sources, how-to books of a technological nature and some periodicals have a finite period of usefulness. Items that fall into this category should be routinely evaluated and removed or replaced as appropriate. Systematic review of materials in this category should be conducted on an ongoing and rotating basis, with all areas of the collection receiving attention every two years.

Materials in the collection may also be deaccessioned because they are:

  • Outside the library’s mission and scope;
  • Deteriorated or lacking in physical integrity;
  • Inauthentic;
  • Duplicate;
  • Irrelevant


Deaccession Procedure

Items withdrawn according to the deaccession criteria are offered to other libraries or museums if possible. Items that cannot be disposed of this way will be sold at public auction or offered through reputable dealers. If rare, valuable items are withdrawn and sold, funds from the sales go to the Special Collections Fund to be used for the care and maintenance of the collections or acquisition of new special collection materials that fit current criteria. Archival collections are not to be viewed primarily as capital for reinvestment or collateral.

Forbes Library will not allow materials from its collections to be acquired privately by any library employee, officer, or volunteer, unless they are sold publicly and with complete disclosure of their history.


Approved by Board of Trustees 10/24/2019.



Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library and Museum
Mission and Priorities

The Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library and Museum (“the Museum”) develops, provides access to, and preserves historical materials and artifacts related to the lives of Calvin and Grace Coolidge, the presidency of Calvin Coolidge, and his lasting impact. The Museum provides opportunities for the public to engage, to facilitate conversations, and stimulate interactions on civics, history, President Coolidge’s life and political work, and current events.


  • We provide access to the collection, digitally and physically, for people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds through exhibits, tours, programs, and outreach.
  • We follow the mission of our parent institution, the Forbes Library, by eliminating barriers to free and open access to the collection.
  • We work collaboratively with organizations holding related collections to create a cohesive history of President Coolidge, his life and times.
  • We place President Coolidge’s personal and professional life in context to tell a local, regional, state, national, and international story.
  • We provide space, opportunities, and resources that enhance civic literacy, assist with the creation of new work and scholarship, and expose connections between President Coolidge’s political impact and current events.
  • Our collection extends beyond the Coolidge presidency to tell the story of First Lady Grace Coolidge and the Coolidge family, and includes resources that appeal to visitors interested in life in the 1920s, politics, and local, regional, state, national, and international history.
  • The Museum strives to attract researchers and visitors from both near and far, and contributes to Northampton’s vibrant downtown and local economy.