University Archives collection development policy

Purpose and program

The primary responsibility of the University Archives is to acquire, preserve and make available for use the permanently valuable records of Arizona State University (ASU), its officers, faculty, staff, students and alumni. While this program primarily supports the administrative offices of ASU, our materials are often consulted or reproduced for class instruction, class assignments, research, publication and display.

ASU administrative offices that regularly use ASU archives, publications and expertise include ASU Alumni Association, ASU Foundation, Office of the Provost, Enterprise Marketing Hub and Media Relations, Sun Devil Athletics, Office of the University Architect and several colleges and schools. These offices use archival materials for publicity, public displays or institutional memory projects (often associated with program anniversaries). These units also require archival preservation and access or records management services for efficient use of their office space.

Academic units that use Archives materials and expertise include the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies and its Public History program, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, Department of English, Thunderbird School of Global Management, Mary Lou Fulton Institute and Graduate School of Education, School of Earth and Space Exploration, and Barrett, the Honors College. Faculty and students of these academic units require archival materials associated with ASU history topics for use in class assignments, capstone projects, theses and dissertations. ASU faculty papers are used for research by our faculty and visiting scholars. Staff from these units also often use archives for publicity and public displays. These units also require archival preservation and access and/or records management services for efficient use of academic space.

ASU Alumni, faculty emeriti, Sun Devil sports fans and the general public also regularly consult and duplicate Archives materials for personal or professional use.

Collecting scope

University Archives documents all aspects of ASU history from all university campuses from 1885present. We collect all official monographic or serial publications of ASU administrative offices, academic schools and colleges and research centers. We also collect selected inactive records of enduring value from all executive offices of the university and the administrative offices of academic schools, colleges, institutes and research centers. Archives selectively collects the publications, personal papers and unpublished scholarly work of ASU faculty and executives. Archives of alumni, student organizations and fraternities are also selectively acquired.

Collecting guidelines

Administrative records of enduring value in many analog and digital formats are identified by archives staff evaluation and by comparison to collecting practices of other academic archives across the nation. Records documenting program and university accreditation, curriculum development, university policy, campus planning and construction, athletics, publicity and events are acquired from the highest level office available to ensure brevity and strategic coverage. Granular and transactional records are remanded to the university records management program for timely and compliant destruction in accordance with Arizona records retention schedules.

Papers of faculty and university executives meeting one or more of the following criteria may be collected:

  • Regents or Presidential professors
  • Twenty years or more of ASU service
  • Dean, provostial or presidential appointment
  • Research center or institute director
  • National or international award winner
  • Individuals of notoriety, controversy or national interest

Records of academic departments and programs are only collected when they document unique and notable programs and services. Materials collected by or gifted to university offices and programs (not produced at ASU) are not acquired by University Archives and may be referred to Distinctive Collections for consideration.

Formal master’s theses and dissertations are preserved as permanent archival records of ASU. Student capstone projects, research papers and diaries, photographs and memorabilia are selectively acquired in order to document the student experience. Records of student clubs, sororities and fraternities and special student events may also be collected by University Archives.

Preservation commitment

University Archives embraces its unique responsibility to preserve documentation of ASU’s history. While replacement or duplicate copies of official records and publications can sometimes be found elsewhere, our unique and irreplaceable materials require the highest levels of preservation. Official records of ASU designated for permanent retention in records retention schedules approved by the Arizona State Library must comply with Arizona statutes governing preservation of permanent records. Preservation actions for personal papers and archives will be applied in response to evaluation of their uniqueness, utility and fragility. Selective reformatting and preservation of content over carrier is acceptable for these materials when the physical object carries minimal research value. Some official publications of ASU are scheduled as vital records and must be permanently preserved (i.e. course catalogs, annual reports). Archives reserves the right to acquire second copies of faculty monographs or research reports when frequent use of the circulating copy is anticipated. Other publications may be replaced for improved condition, reformatted for sustainability or discarded for low utility.

Other selection criteria and considerations

University policies or federal and state privacy laws such as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) may impact our ability to provide access to certain records. Some records may be redacted or access may be restricted to ensure protection of student privacy and compliance. Archives may manually review or use data forensics tools to screen records for information that should be redacted before they are made available for use.

In order to use our resources efficiently and protect our collections, staff and patrons, we discourage offers of duplicate, damaged, infested or moldy materials that could adversely impact our health.

Challenges with this collecting area

Legal agreements

Gifts of ASU-related publications or public records of the university as defined by A.R.S. 41-1350 are accepted without legal agreements. Gifts of unpublished, archival or mixed personal papers and records require completion of a Deed of Gift that documents transfer of the physical property of the materials. Deed of Gift terms negotiated with the donor in advance of transfer specifically identify the copyright status of unpublished materials and instructions for deaccessioning of any duplicate or unneeded items.


Gifts of published or unpublished materials are generally accepted in perpetuity; however changes in the curricular or research directions of ASU or unavoidable degradation of physical materials could result in a curatorial decision to deaccession or remove materials from the repository. Deaccessioning may only be completed in accordance with terms of the Deed of Gift and the University Archives Deaccessioning Policy

Review cycle

This policy will be reviewed in 2020 and every five years thereafter.

Date of policy and author names

2018/04/21 Spindler/Walker