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Archives & Special Collections

Purpose and Scope: 

The Library’s mission is to provide quality information resources, services, and expertise, and to create an inviting and stimulating intellectual center as the foundation for the teaching, learning, and research activities at SUNY Oneonta.  The Special Collections Center (SCC) supports this mission by acquiring, organizing, preserving, and providing access to special book collections, the lantern slide collection, and the SUNY Oneonta archives.  These collections provide educational, curricular, scholarly, historical, intrinsic, unique, and enduring value, and are promoted by the SCC through educational engagement with the campus and local community.  The physical items are housed in the Alden Room, which is named in honor of Jessica Alden, SUNY Oneonta’s first librarian.  

This Collection Policy, which seeks to guide the growth and development of the Archives and Special Collections, is guided by these missions, the Milne Library Collection Development Policy, and the standards and principles listed below.   

Active Collecting Areas 

The SCC seeks to develop the following collections: 


The Archives are comprised of historical materials that illuminate the development of SUNY Oneonta, beginning with its inception in 1889 as the Oneonta Normal School. Included are official publications and documents; minutes; faculty papers; oral histories; photographs; memorabilia such as scrapbooks; yearbooks, newspapers, and other student publications; and ephemera. 

Early Textbook Collection 

Books and textbooks used in the common schools of the United States from the late 18th to the 20th centuries comprise this collection.  Subjects include history, rhetoric, spelling, grammar, sciences, math, health and hygiene, literature, geography, and the arts. 

Educational Theory Collection 

This collection is comprised of volumes of pedagogical thought and theory, primarily from the 19th century, and includes lectures of the American Institute of Instruction. 

Faculty Publications Collection 

This collection features the creative and scholarly achievements of SUNY Oneonta faculty, administrative staff, and professional staff in book and book chapter format. 

Master’s Theses 

This collection is comprised of printed theses (prior to 2022) from the Cooperstown Graduate Program and the Biology master’s programs. Since 2022, master’s theses and some master’s culminating projects are collected in a special collection (located at in the SUNY Open Access Repository (SOAR). In cases where the full text of a master’s thesis is unable to be displayed in SOAR due to copyright permissions or burdensome image licensing costs, a digital copy of the thesis is kept in the Alden Room and may be made accessible on request to on-site visitors.  

New York State History Collection 

This collection is composed of books on local, county, and state histories.  Many books in this collection were published prior to the 20th century. 

SCC Miscellanies 

This collection is comprised of special and unique books on all subjects.   

Historical Special Collections: 

The following collections comprise single substantial donations and special one-time collecting initiatives and are no longer active.   

Cornell-Gladstone-Hanlon-Kaufmann Collection 

Donated by William Kaufmann and dedicated in 2004, this collection consists of books focused on the writings of John Burroughs and other naturalists.   

Lantern Slide Collection: 

Containing over 13,000 glass lantern slides, this collection largely consists of educational slides from the NYS Education Department Division of Visual Instruction.  

Martha C. Chambers Memorial Collection 

Created in memory of Martha C. Chambers, former SCC Librarian, this collection consists of examples of fine modern printing from primarily English presses, but also includes American and other European presses.  Presses include Ashende Press, Gregynog Press, and Shakespeare Head Press. 

New York State Verse Collection 

This collection reflects the versifying efforts of New Yorkers of the 19th and early 20th centuries.   

O’Mara Native American Collection 

This collection on Native American history and culture was donated in 2009 by Frank O’Mara, retired Professor in the former Speech Communication and Theater Department. 

Popular Fiction Collection 

This extensive collection includes popular fiction written during the 19th and early 20th centuries. 

Private Press Publications 

This collection provides a sampling of the work of famous 19th century presses, including Mosher Press and Roycrofter Press, as well as contemporary local presses such as Serpent and Eagle Press and Swamp Press. 

Digital Collections: 

Digital collections are an evolving collection area of interest and will develop further as time and resources allow. 

Kitchen Table Conversations 

This is a collection of interviews with local people between 2008-2019 in and around Oneonta, New York.  It began as a radio show on WUOW at SUNY Oneonta, and continues as a passion project of its creators, Alan Donovan and Gary Wickham.  It is available through SOAR and through the Special Collections Guide

CGP Community Stories 

This collection constitutes oral histories conducted by students in the Cooperstown Graduate Program since 2015.  SCC maintains original typed documents (including transcripts and accompanying documentation such as agreement forms, narrator biographies, and photographs) as well as the digital counterparts (2015-2018 on CD; 2019 to present on USB drives).   

Selection and Deselection: 

The following general criteria are used in evaluating potential acquisition to and deselection from the SCC:   

  • The item must be in good condition with no signs of mold, mildew, pests or pest damage, food stains, water damage, or other potential harm 

  • The item should not require conservation work 

  • The SCC must have the ability to provide suitable space, staffing, supplies, preservation, and/or equipment for the item 

  • The item should have potential for use in teaching and scholarship at SUNY Oneonta 

  • The item should have current, historical, or enduring value 

  • Primary source items will take precedence 

The deselection process is collaborative, transparent, sustainable, and inclusive.  To keep the collections safe and the space sustainable, items in the SCC will be reviewed as needed.  The deselection process ensures the professional and responsible removal of material from the SCC.  Any item may be withdrawn when it no longer meets selection criteria.  Depending on condition, an item may be discarded or offered to another institution.  The SCC librarian will consult with the SCC Team; librarian liaisons; the Head of Collection Development, Resource Management & Sharing; the Dean of the Library; and/or the campus community on deselection decisions as necessary.   


Donated materials contribute a unique richness and depth to the SCC.  The SCC gratefully welcomes donations of materials that align with this Collection Policy.  Appraisals must be completed prior to the donation and are the responsibility of the donor.  Once a gift is accepted, it becomes the sole property of Milne Library, and the SCC Team will determine the disposition.  

Accepted donations may be integrated into existing collections at the discretion of the SCC Team.  Any materials not accepted may be returned to the donor, given away, offered to another library or repository, recycled, or discarded.  Donated items may be withdrawn from the collection according to the selection criteria above. 

Donors should contact Heather Stalter, Special Collections Librarian, in advance for more information (, 607-436-3585). 

Reconsideration Policy: 

Items in the Special Collections are acquired in accordance with this Collection Policy. The SCC will not withdraw duly collected materials from the collections in response to a request from an individual or a group.   

The following procedures are used to handle requests for reconsideration of materials in the Library’s Special Collections:  

  • Requests for reconsideration of materials shall be submitted in writing to the Milne Library SCC Team using the Reconsideration of Material Form available at the Circulation Desk and the Reference Desk.  

  • The Reconsideration of Material Form must be completed in full.   

  • The Milne Library SCC Team will acknowledge the receipt of the form by email.   

  • The Milne Library SCC Team will review the request within four weeks of receipt of the completed form.   

  • The Milne Library SCC Team will make a final decision on an appropriate response to the request.   

  • The individual completing the Reconsideration of Material Form will be notified by email of the Milne Library SCC Team’s decision. The notification will be delivered within thirty days of receipt of the completed form.   

  • The material under reconsideration will remain in the collection during the review process.  

  • All requests for reconsideration will be reported to the American Library Association.    

The SCC Team will evaluate the material under reconsideration using the Collection Policy for Archives and Special Collections as well as the best practices listed above.   

Revision History: 

Based on 2007 policy, revised by SCC Team 2020-2023, reviewed by Library Collection Development Team 2023, approved by Darren Chase, Dean of the Library