Beulah Williams Library Archives
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Collection Development Policy


Collect, arrange, preserve, and make accessible records of enduring historical value created or received by Northern State University for research, instructional, or administrative use, particularly relating to the history and cultural heritage of Aberdeen, South Dakota and the surrounding region.



  1. Identify, evaluate, select, and preserve materials in a variety of formats to develop collections that meet the needs of users and preserve our cultural heritage.
  2. Apply technology, research, and instructional innovations to enhance services and access to our traditional and electronic collections.
  3. Play a key role in the university’s accountability to the citizens of Aberdeen through open records, intellectual freedom, and records management programs.


Scope of the Archive

The NSU Archives is divided into two segments, the Archive itself and Special Collections.

Within the Archive there are two main collecting areas:

  1. Institutional Records:
    1. Agenda and minutes of meetings
    2. Annual budgets, reports, committee, audit reports, and task force reports
    3. Statistical summaries, press releases, correspondence, and memoranda
    4. Other papers created in the process of the university carrying out its academic goal and mission
    5. University Publications (ex. The Exponent, The Pasque)
    6. Selected photographs of University Personnel, campus, buildings, and events
    7. Selected blueprints and architectural drawings
    8. Graduate theses in print or digital format
  2. Local and Regional History:
    1. Manuscripts

Within Special Collections the four largest collections currently are:

  1. Harriet Montgomery Water Resource Collection
  2. Rare Book Collection
  3. Germans from Russia
  4. George Nikolas

The NSU Archives does not collect the following:

  1. Syllabi
  2. Textbooks
  3. Student Academic Papers, including final exams (except for Graduate Theses)
  4. Non-permanent NSU records
  5. Faculty book collections, beyond copies of a faculty member’s own published works in his/her personal papers
  6. Materials in poor condition, showing evidence of mold, mildew, pests, significant embrittlement, or otherwise damaged beyond repair
  7. Materials to which access is restricted in perpetuity or for a period of time deemed by the Archivist to be beyond a reasonable limitation
  8. Duplicated materials and mass generated commercial documents
    1. The NSU Archives has the option to refuse duplicate NSU yearbooks unless the copies currently in the collection for individual years are limited in number or in poor physical condition.
    2. No more than two copies of any book may be in Special Collections. Any additional copies of a book added to Special Collections (after the second copy) may be added to the Main Collection at the Archivist’s discretion.
    3. Non-personally addressed correspondence from other departments or colleges on or off campus
    4. Questionnaires, reports, and drafts that have been published


Types of Materials Collected

Geographic area

North-Eastern SD





Digital records




The Archives cover all academic subject areas. Current collection strengths include: South Dakota railroads, Germans from Russia, water and land irrigation, university athletics, photographs of the campus and university life, and campus administration. The resources of the NSU Archives and Special Collections are largely unique and rarely overlap with other archival repositories.

Time Period

Selection will focus on materials from the 1900s to the present.


All. English is the primary language. German and Russian are secondary languages.


Collection Priorities

Student Life and Athletics

Significant memorabilia and documents reflecting history of university clubs, team sports, and student life.

Images and sounds

Photographs, video, and audio recordings of significant university personnel, events, buildings, lectures, grounds, campus life, and cultural performances.

Architectural Drawings

Architectural plans and drawings of the campus and its buildings

Relevant Material about Past Presidents

Materials related to the lives of Past Presidents whose lives and careers contributed to the history of NSU.

Germans from Russia

Materials related to the lives and culture of this prevalent cultural group.



When accepting new collections, the Creator or Donor must complete and turnover a basic inventory of items within the donation. In addition, a Donor Agreement Form must be filled out. Items will be evaluated by the Archivist for its historical and research value. If the donor desires an appraisal, it is the donor’s responsibility to estimate values or employ the services of an independent consultant before donating the materials. Once a gift is accepted, it becomes the property of the NSU Archives. Unless formally agreed upon in a Donor Agreement Form, the NSU Archives may add donations to its collection, or use them for sale or exchange.


Discarding Materials

The relevance of materials in the NSU Archives can and will change over time. Periodic weeding of the collection may be done to identify items that no longer fit the criteria for inclusion in the collection.



UMD – Collection Development Policy Statement for University Archives

Central Washington University Collection Development Policy (here)

University of Portland Archives Collection Development Policy (here)

University of Louisville - Mission and Vision of Archives and Special Collections (here)

Concordia University Irvine Collection Development Policy (here)

William Paterson College – University Archive Collection Priorities (here)