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Collection policy

This policy amalgamates three collection policies formerly published separately as the Donations policy, Cultural gifts policy and Retention and withdrawal of information policy.


State Collection: The State Collection is defined in section 4 of the Libraries Act 1988 (Vic) as:
a)    all material vested in the Board
b)    all publications deposited with the Board under section 49 and accepted for the State Collection
c)    all library material acquired and accepted for the State Collection by the Board
d)    all donations, gifts, dispositions and trusts of property real or personal, other than money, lawfully made or declared whether before or after the commencement of this Act by deed, will or otherwise to or in favour of the Trustees of the Public Library or of the State Library or of the Library Council of Victoria or of the Council of the State Library of Victoria for the uses or purposes of those persons or bodies and accepted for the State Collection.

Cultural Gifts Program: The Library is eligible to accept donations under the Cultural Gifts Program. The Cultural Gifts Program encourages Australians to donate items of cultural significance from private collections to public art galleries, museums, libraries and archives. The program is administered by the Australian Government, Department of Communications and the Arts, in accordance with the gift provisions of income tax law. For more information on the program, please visit the Cultural Gifts Program website.

Tax incentives: The Cultural Gifts Program is administered in accordance with the current gift provisions of the income tax law. The general rule is that the average of the current market values specified in valuations from two or more approved valuers for the gift is fully tax deductible. Donors can elect to spread the deduction over a period up to five income years. Gifts are exempt from capital gains tax. We encourage donors to speak to a tax professional for advice on claiming deductions for gifts through the program.

Significant impact collection offers: These are collection offers that if accepted by the Library present resource implications for collection management that are beyond current operational capacity. These include processing within reasonable timeframes, current operational practices and existing resources, or they trigger multiple or complex issues (such as conditions of the donor that have an ongoing resource impact). They could have a substantial physical footprint (for example, a manuscript collection of more than 50 boxes), or they could consist of a large number of items (for example, the negative archive of a commercial photographer).

Roles and responsibilities

Department of Communications and the Arts: Responsible for administering the Cultural Gifts Program.

Valuers: Responsible for providing a market valuation of the donation at the time of donation. Valuers must be selected from the List of approved valuers and comply with the program's Code of conduct for valuers (available on the Cultural Gifts Program website of the Department of Communications and the Arts).

Library Board of Victoria (LBV): Statutory authority that governs the operations and activities of State Library Victoria (SLV). The Library Board of Victoria is ultimately responsible for decisions to withdraw material from the State Collection and for approving any donations that commit the Library to annual expenditure in excess of $275,000.

Chief Executive Officer: Responsible for approving any donations that commit the Library to annual expenditure in excess of $100,000, but not exceeding $275,000.

Selection Committee: Responsible for approving any donations that are defined as 'significant impact collection offers' but do not commit the Library to annual expenditure in excess of $100,000.

Collection Development & Purchased Resources Team Leader / Victorian Resources Team Leader / Collection Managers: Material that is in possession of the Library, but does not form part of the State Collection, and which may legally be disposed of, may be discarded by the office holders of these positions or with their approval. Acceptance of donations that are not 'significant impact collection offers' can be approved by the office holders of these positions (or their equivalents).

Head of Collections / Manager, Collection Resources / Manager, Collection Development & Discovery: Responsible for material that forms part of the State Collection, the office holders of these positions (or their equivalents) may assess whether items fall into a class of objects approved by the LBV for withdrawal and initiate any required action.

1. Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to inform potential donors of the approval process and the terms and conditions for collection material donated to the Library, including donations made under the Cultural Gifts Program, and outline the process for the withdrawal of material from the State Collection.

2. Scope

This policy applies to the Library Board of Victoria, its Committees, all SLV employees, contractors and volunteers, and to any individual or organisation that donates collection material to the Library.

The policy covers all material that has been offered as a donation to the Library and all material that has been accepted and accessioned into the State Collection.

3. Policy contents

3.1 Collection donations to State Library Victoria

The Library welcomes offers of collection material as donations from individuals or organisations. Material donated to the Library is an important resource for developing the State Collection.

The Library is pleased to receive offers of both physical and digital material that build and enhance our Victorian and Australian collections, and Arts, Popular Culture, History of the Book and World Knowledge collections. They include, but are not limited to:

  • books – Victorian and Australian
  • books – world knowledge
  • manuscripts, diaries, letters and archives
  • pictures, paintings and photographs
  • maps and charts
  • magazines, journals and newspapers
  • architectural drawings
  • objects, ephemera and realia
  • comics, graphic novels and zines
  • printed and recorded music

Acceptance of material by the Library is not automatic. Collection offers are assessed according to the principles and guidelines outlined in the Library's Collection Strategy 2020-24. The cost of cataloguing, storage and conservation are also important considerations in determining acceptance.

The Library will endeavour to conduct appropriate and reasonable due diligence for collection item/s being donated to the State Collection, including clear title to ownership, appropriate ownership history (provenance) and adherence to legislation in relation to moveable cultural heritage. This will be commensurate with the financial value and historical significance of the item/s being donated.

Significant impact collection offers are assessed more formally and approval to accept these as donations to the State Collection is the responsibility of the appropriate delegate depending on the level of annual expenditure that would result from accepting the donation.

All donations of collection material to the Library are permanent gifts. The Library is unable to accept donations of collection material on a permanent loan or loan for copy basis.

Once material is accepted and added to the State Collection, the Library reserves the right to catalogue, store, conserve and provide access to material at its absolute discretion.

For material not accepted for the collections, the Library reserves the right to dispose of material in accordance with the methods of disposal as outlined in this policy. Notwithstanding, the Library will endeavour to return any unwanted material to the donor if requested at the time of donation.

3.2 Donations under the Cultural Gifts Program

3.2.1 Minimum value of gifts

Cultural gift donations are not accepted if it is evident that their market value is very low. At the very least, the value must exceed the cost of the valuers' fees and the administrative costs incurred by the Library in arranging valuations and preparing the paperwork. The minimum value that is acceptable is likely to vary according to format, as the costs of organising valuations may differ considerably.

Material that clearly has a value of less than $2000 is not accepted and only in exceptional circumstances are gifts worth less than $5000 accepted. If the material offered is assessed of low market value, donors are encouraged to consider making an outright gift or, if this is not acceptable, offering the material for purchase.

3.2.2 Access restrictions

The Library does not usually accept donations with access restrictions. In the case of manuscript collections, the Library is willing to accept materials that will be held under closed or restricted access, provided that such restrictions are reasonable; for example, a specified embargo period or supported by legislation.

However, as restrictions affect the market value of the material (on the assumption that most potential buyers would not be willing to accept any restrictions on use), the Library seeks to establish at an early stage if restrictions are likely. If so, it informs the valuers accordingly. Manuscript valuers have been directed by the Department of Communications and the Arts, which administers the Cultural Gifts Program, to take into account access restrictions.

3.2.3 Ownership of copyright

Where the donor owns the copyright of the gift being donated, they are required to indicate whether they are transferring the ownership of copyright of the gift. In some instances, particularly with offers of photographs, the Library may decide to decline the gift unless copyright is transferred. In other cases, the gift may be accepted, but the valuers will be notified that copyright has not been acquired and this is likely to affect the valuation.

3.2.4 Ownership of materials

The Library will establish at the time of accepting a gift who holds the main legal title to the material. In the case of complex collections, however, the question of some items belonging to others may arise only after detailed examination, especially if the valuations take place before the gift is actually received by the Library. Valuers are required to draw to the Library's attention any groups of material or items that probably should not form part of the collection. If there is any uncertainty, the Library seeks clarification before the paperwork is finalised.

3.2.5 Artist or dealer trading stock

If an artist or dealer makes a gift that is part of their trading stock, the deduction will be restricted to the cost of acquiring or producing the item(s). If the donation is not trading stock – that is, it is from the donor's personal collection – the donor must demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Commissioner of Taxation that the item(s) were not held for commercial gain.

3.2.6 Commissioning of valuations

While donors are entitled to arrange their own valuations, as the recipient institution, the Library prefers to commission valuations. Valuers who are selected by authorised Library staff are generally recognised as having relevant expertise and experience in assessing the category of material being offered; a full understanding of the requirements of the program; being prompt and reliable; and charging reasonable fees.

3.2.7 Acceptance of valuations by the Library

As the recipient institution, the Library has to ensure that valuations are substantiated and that the information provided accurately reflects the item(s) being donated. Where there are wide variations between valuations, the Library will be required to explain these.

For legitimate reasons, such as the differing markets of an auction house and a private dealer, unusually wide discrepancies may occur in the valuations. Where there is a wide variation, the Library shall make further reasonable enquiries of valuers to provide explanation and justification of their assessments.

Library staff do not seek to unduly influence valuers; however, it is acknowledged that they may express views if asked by valuers.

3.2.8 Acceptance of valuations by donors

Cultural gift donations are expected to be unconditional of the valuation, and if the Library arranges the valuations there is no requirement that the donors approve the valuations. Nevertheless, the Library endeavours to inform donors of the average of the valuations before submitting them to the Department of Communications and the Arts for endorsement.

If donors are unhappy with the valuations, they may arrange new valuations, in which case the Library would submit all the valuations to the Department of Communications and the Arts. Failing that, the Library will consider returning the gifts. In such exceptional cases, the Library expects the donors to reimburse the Library for the cost of the valuations.

3.3 Withdrawal of material from the State Collection

The Libraries Act 1988 makes provision in section 50 for withdrawal of material from the State Collection and prescribes what must be done before materials forming part of the State Collection may be sold or otherwise disposed of. These provisions apply to all items that form part of the State Collection with the exception of:

1. an object or class of objects published for the first time within the preceding ten years
2. duplicate material, which is exchanged with 'a body which has objects or functions similar to those of the Board'.

For all other materials, section 50 of the Act requires that any object or class of objects proposed to be sold or otherwise disposed of from the State Collection must first be considered by the Board, and may not be disposed of unless the Board has:

a)    resolved that retention of these objects or classes of objects is unnecessary and inappropriate to its activities
b)    published a notice providing information about the object or class of objects. Such notice must be published at least two months before sale or disposal in a Victorian newspaper, and must be displayed in the Library.

Any item that does not fall into the categories approved below will be referred to the Board for consideration and resolution as set out above.

3.3.1 Categories of items approved for withdrawal from the State Collection

The Board can resolve that the following classes or objects may be withdrawn from the State Collection, subject to the conditions specified below:

1. Replacement

Published material, which is mutilated, badly damaged or worn out. This category is confined to items in the collection that are unable to be read as they are entirely worn out, significant parts are missing, or pages or sections have been deliberately destroyed. When items of this kind in the collection are withdrawn, they will be replaced by copies in better condition – if it is possible to do so at reasonable cost. If an item has historic or aesthetic value and cannot be replaced by a suitable copy, the Library will endeavour to retain the copy regardless of the extent of damage.

2. Replacement by another format

Particular formats of a work (or groups of works) may be replaced by formats more suitable for access or preservation. When the original is unable to be used and preservation or restoration is not an option, then replacement in another format such as microfilm or digital may be undertaken. This category does not apply to newspapers that are more than ten years old.

3. Superseded material

Published material that is acquired only for the currency of its information as it is replaced by more current information. This category refers to material that is regularly replaced with more current up-to-date information. Examples of this format include loose-leaf current information files and monthly issues replaced by annual accumulations.

4. Duplicates

Published material that consists of additional copies that are no longer required. It is a general policy of the Library to avoid the duplication of materials. However, it should be acknowledged that there are times when more than one copy of an item is required. Duplicate copies are withdrawn when the purpose for which they were acquired has been satisfied. For example, where more than one copy of an item is acquired for current use, duplicate copies may be withdrawn when the period of their usefulness or current reference is ended, provided that at least one copy is retained. Also where a second set of a periodical is acquired for binding, the other set may be discarded.

5. Material written off

This category refers to material recorded by the Library in its catalogue or other records where the Library is satisfied that it is no longer held and, a replacement cannot be obtained.

6. Deposits and exchanges

Material acquired under formal deposit or exchange arrangements entered into by the Library, and which may be discarded under the terms of the arrangement, may be withdrawn.

7. Public records

This category refers to material identified as public records that have inadvertently been accessioned into the Library’s collection.

3.3.2 Methods of disposal

The Library may use the following methods of disposal of materials from its collections:

1.    Exchange with other institutions having similar aims.
2.    Donation to other libraries or appropriate institutions, including donation through programs to libraries in developing countries.
3.    Sale. In some cases, sale of material is the most effective way of linking an item not wanted by State Library Victoria with a person or institution wanting it.
4.    Recycling. In the case of publications not required by other libraries or institutions, and unsuitable for sale.
5.    Donations to a recognised charity for sale.

With the exception of the categories above, the Library does not sell or donate unwanted material to individuals, businesses, groups or staff. In disposing of materials, which were formerly part of the State Collection, any of the methods of disposal listed above may be used.

In the event of the removal of collection material which was accepted by the Library as a donation under the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program, the Library will not return the item(s) to the donor or their estate.

Material officially withdrawn from the collection is stamped indicating that this is the case, unless secure disposal has been ensured.

4. Related SLV policies, legislation and forms

SLV Policies and Procedures

Collection Strategy 2020-24


Libraries Act 1988
Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act 1986


Collection assessment form
Deed of gift
Donation form
Receipt form
Certificate of donation – Cultural Gifts Program
Donation summary/Statement of significance – Cultural Gifts Program