Collecting Scope

Collections being cataloged at CBI

CBI collects primary source materials and rare publications documenting the history and development of information technology. Information technology is defined in broad terms to include topics such as computing, information processing, hardware and software design developments, software applications, development of standards, networking, the Internet, and their social implications. Collecting efforts focus on the period from 1935 to the present.

Materials sought include, but are not limited to: corporate records, manuscript materials, personal papers, records of professional associations, oral history interviews, trade publications, periodicals, photographs, films, videos, and reference materials, and books that have become historically significant in the subject area. CBI does not collect obsolete product manuals, three-dimensional materials or other artifacts.

CBI collects locally, regionally and nationally. CBI will consider materials from outside the United States if no legal, intellectual, or ethical conflict is present. CBI may accept materials outside of the confines of this collecting scope when to do otherwise would violate the integrity of a collection. CBI does not purchase or bid on collections.

Acquisition Policy

CBI’s acquisitions policy is based upon archival and library professional standards and practices. It conforms to the Society of American Archivists code of ethics. In acquiring a collection, CBI archivists are guided by the CBI Collecting Scope and by the following intellectual, legal, practical and ethical considerations:

Intellectual content

  • Does the collection fit well within CBI’s collecting scope?
  • Does the collection support and/or complement other materials already held by the CBI archives?
  • Does the bulk of the collection consist of primary source materials, or materials not otherwise available?
  • Are there gaps in the collection, and if so, are they substantial enough to adversely affect the overall intellectual integrity of the collection?
  • Have parts of the collection been acquired by another repository?
  • Are parts of the collection still in private hands? If so, are they essential to the research value and understanding of the collection as a whole? What is the likelihood of acquiring the rest of the collection?
  • Does a large portion of the collection contain research files of published materials or unpublished data, and if so are these files essential to the understanding of the collection as whole?

Legal considerations

  • Does the collection contain reproductions (e.g. photocopies, photographs, microfilm) from another institution? Were these reproductions provided for the personal research use of the donor (i.e. not intended for deposit at an archival repository)?
  • Will the copyright to unpublished materials in the collection be transferred to the University of Minnesota?
  • Does the collection contain proprietary information or information affected by non-disclosure agreements? If so, can the collection be made available for research within a reasonable period of time?
  • Do materials in the collection fall under the jurisdiction of state and/or federal privacy laws?
  • Has the donor imposed excessively burdensome restrictions on use of the collection?
  • Will the donor require a formal appraisal of the collection?
  • Does the donor wish to deposit, rather than donate, the collection?

Processing Considerations

  • What intellectual arrangement, if any, has been imposed on the collection? Does it contain adequate identification of its parts or sections? Will the resources required to make the collection useable outweigh its intellectual value?
  • Accepting a collection carries the obligation to make the materials available for research. Does CBI have the human and financial resources necessary to process the collection and open it to researchers within a reasonable period of time?
  • What is the physical condition of the collection? Is there evidence of embrittled paper, mold, infestation, dirt, or rust? If the collection requires substantial conservation, does its research potential merit the expense?
  • What is the size of the collection in cubic feet? Does the expense of archival storage of the collection outweigh its research potential?
  • Does the collection contain a variety of formats that require special handling, storage, reformatting, migration, and preservation?
  • Are there artifacts, memorabilia, framed awards or other three-dimensional objects in the collection? Are these objects essential to the understanding of the collection as a whole?
  • Will the donor cover costs of physical transfer of the materials to CBI?
  • Are funds available from the donor to support processing and preservation of the collection?

Ethical considerations

  • Would the collection be more appropriately preserved at another institution?
  • Does acceptance or solicitation of the collection place CBI in competition with its peer institutions?

Information for Donors

The CBI Archives welcomes inquiries about donating materials relating to the history of information technology. We encourage requests from individuals, organizations, and businesses to assess the historical and research value of records in collections of all formats. CBI works collaboratively with other archival programs; if a set of records is more appropriately preserved at another institution, we will work with you to match donor and repository.

Collections are legally transferred to the Charles Babbage Institute by means of a gift agreement. The function of the gift agreement is to clarify the property, copyright, disposition, and access rights to the collection.

Property and copyright

In most cases, property and copyrights are transferred to the Regents of the University of Minnesota on behalf of the Charles Babbage Institute, however, the agreement does not affect the copyrights to previously published works. Transferring copyrights enables CBI to grant researchers permission to quote from the collection.

Disposition rights

Granting disposition rights to CBI allows the archivists to remove from the collection any non-archival material (material that we believe should not be permanently retained). We will dispose of such material in accordance with your wishes: it can be returned to you, offered to another repository, or destroyed.

Care of the collection

In addition to administering access, CBI’s stewardship of a collection includes:

  • housing the materials in a secure, climate controlled storage facility
  • re-foldering and re-boxing all materials into acid-free containers
  • arranging the materials into a logical order
  • preparing a detailed guide to the collection and historical note
  • disseminating the collection guide in print form and on the CBI Web site
  • entering a catalog record for the collection into the University of Minnesota’s online library catalog and international bibliographic databases
  • publicizing the acquisition and the collection’s availability for research

Administering access

The agreement allows us to administer access to the collection. While the CBI archives are open to the public, access is carefully controlled. When researchers contact the CBI archives, they are interviewed by a member of the staff and required to sign a formal agreement establishing the conditions of use of the manuscript collections. Researchers must also state why they wish to use the material and what the final product of their research will be. Collections are housed in closed stacks; on-site researchers use our finding aids to the collections to identify the specific material they need, and the appropriate boxes are brought to them in our reading room where use of the collections is monitored.

A note about tax deductions

When transferring records to CBI, donors often inquire about the issue of appraising historical records and tax deductions. IRS regulations prohibit the receiving repository from setting a value for a collection. Appraising modern collections can be very costly, and the donor (with his or her lawyer or accountants) must determine if it is worth it. It is useful to remember that the appraiser will be evaluating the fair market value of the materials, and high research value may not translate into a high market price. If you have the records appraised, you must take the tax deduction in the same year that the records are physically transferred. If you choose not to have the records appraised, you cannot take a tax deduction from their donation. You can, however, deduct as a charitable contribution the cost of physically transferring the records to CBI. Additional contributions are always welcome and can be used to support the purchase of archival supplies needed to house the collection, project staff to process the collection, special initiatives such as digitization projects, or an annual gift to offset the cost of long term care of the collection.

More information

Please contact CBI Archivist with questions about donating materials to CBI.