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11-1: Special Collections at the Center of Southwest Studies

Issued: 11-28-95


The mission of the Fort Lewis College Special Collections is to identify, acquire, organize, preserve and make available materials pertaining to the College and pertaining to the Southwest and Native Americans of the Southwest that have sufficient historical, archaeological, ethnographic, administrative, legal, fiscal or informational significance to warrant their long term preservation. Special Collections is, in part, the corporate memory of the College and of our community. It serves as an information resource for all persons interested in the history and development of the Southwest and especially of Fort Lewis College and the Four Corners region. (See the Center's Mission Statement, form SW-36.)


Research and Administrative Reference - Special Collections resources support (in descending order of priority):

A. Undergraduate research work.

B. Faculty research.

C. The work of administrative departments such as the President's and Vice Presidents' offices and College Relations.

D. Scholarly research by those beyond the College. Those who created and/or compiled the Fort Lewis College Archives have priority use of those records.

Exhibits - The Center exhibits items from its collections both on and off campus on a rotating basis, and seeks to include items of an exhibitory nature in its collections. The exhibit areas shall be archivally designed and secure. (See the Center's Exhibit Policy, form SW-44.) Other institutions wishing to borrow materials must complete the Center's Loan Agreement Form (SW-13) and must adhere to the requirements for loan stated on the reverse of that form.

Outreach - The Center furthers the use and development of its materials and serves the local and regional community through ongoing outreach of various forms, including but not limited to tours and presentations by the Center's staff, audiovisual presentations to the community and sponsorship of meetings, seminars and conferences related to the Center's mission.

Publications - The Center produces public relations brochures, descriptive guides and periodicals to publicize its existence and information about its holdings. Insofar as appropriate scholarly manuscripts and funds are available, the Center also publishes a series of occasional papers to spur interest in, and knowledge of, the history of the region.

Records Management - Pursuant to the Fort Lewis College Records Management Program Authorization signed by the President on 1/7/95, the Center is the hub for effective management of records and information generated, processed or received by the faculty, staff and students. The Center assists administrative, academic and student offices by relieving them of the cost and inefficiencies of retaining in their offices non-current, but historically valuable, records. Records management is seen as essential to fulfilling the College's mission, assuring economy and efficiency in the creation, organization, maintenance, use and retrieval of administrative records, assuring the protection of records that are vital to the College and ensuring the preservation of historically important records.

Preservation - The Center recognizes that research, exhibition, loans, handling and storage of its materials must be consonant with sound preservation practices. These activities must not damage or compromise the integrity of the materials. Further, the College realizes that the acquisition of collections brings with it an institutional commitment to responsible custody into the indefinite future, and that preservation is achieved only when the repository is able to provide appropriate environmental conditions, protective housing, fire prevention, detection and suppression systems, effective security systems and procedures, disaster preparedness, and staff and users who have been trained to handle and care for the collections appropriately. (See the Center's Preservation Policy SW-46, Loan Agreement Form SW-13, Special Collections Special Handling Guidelines SW-23, Exhibit Policy SW-44, Special Collections Storage Guidelines SW-25, and Disaster Plan SW-31).


The Archivist reports to the Director of the Center of Southwest Studies and carries faculty rank. This is a tenure track position. The Director reports to the College's Vice President for Academic Affairs.

The Archivist is authorized, on behalf of the College and of the Center of Southwest Studies, to solicit, acquire, accession, appraise, arrange, describe, deaccession and make available the materials (non-artifacts, primarily) of the Center. Any record-creating or record-compiling office or department of the College is directed to release to the College Archives for preservation, administration and access such records legally in that office's custody that no longer are needed for the transaction of the current business of that office, whenever the Archivist is willing and able to receive and take possession of them.

The records of any College office or department shall, prior to or upon the termination of the existence and functions of that office or department, be transferred to the custody of the College Archives for appraisal and disposal, unless otherwise directed by the Archivist. Since all recordsâ¿¿including machine readable recordsâ¿¿created by an employee of the College in the performance of his or her duties legally are the property of the College, upon termination of employment all individuals shall transfer to the College Archives those records no longer needed for the current operations of their respective offices or departments. In no case shall anyone remove such records from the College, or destroy same, without the prior permission of the Archivist. The Archivist shall have the right of reasonable access to and examination of all current College records.

IV. Outline of Responsibilities

The Archivist is responsible for accessioning, appraising, arranging, describing, deaccessioning and making available the non-artifact materials of the Center and for assisting with College records management functions through the creation and implementation of records schedules and transfer of historically significant College records to the College Archives. The Archivist is the person primarily responsible for the Center's interactions with users of the Center's non-artifact collections, including the provision of reference services by telephone, mail and in person. (See the Archivist's Job Description, form SW-32.) The Director of the Center is primarily responsible for donor relations, including the solicitation and acquisition of special collections and gifts, with the assistance of the Archivist. As with any gift to the College, donations should be channeled through the Fort Lewis College Foundation for acceptance. The Director must pre-approve any conditions, clauses, restrictions, and/or commitments that might be attached to collection acquisitions. Subject to veto by the Southwest Studies Advisory Board, the Director makes the final decision on staff's deaccessioning recommendations. The Directorâ¿¿with the assistance of the Archivist as resources permitâ¿¿is responsible for the administration of the artifact materials until the position of curator is filled. The Southwest Studies Advisory Committee serves the President and the Director in a consultative role in policy and personnel decisions relating to the Center. Recognizing aspects of common interest with the College Library, the Center works with Library staff to share resources. Although the published special collections research materials (i.e., books) specified in the Collecting Policy (Section 6, following) are in the custody of the Center, they are cataloged and made accessible at the Southwest Center library through the technical assistance of the College's general library staff, and the Library refers users to the Center and vice versa, where appropriate.

V. Collecting Policy

One aspect of responsible custody is adherence to a collecting policy which is feasible and appropriate for the institution in consideration of the institution's resources, the institution's place within the total universe of documentation for the subject areas in which it collects, and the collecting policies of related repositories and the strengths and weaknesses of their collections. In its acquisition of collections the Center of Southwest Studies conforms with applicable laws, professional ethics, and Center policy.

Fort Lewis College specializes in teaching and learning in an undergraduate liberal arts setting. The Center of Southwest Studies documents the history of this basic function. Thus, the College Archives' records shall include all historically significant and permanently valuable records received or created by college officials, staff, faculty and students in the course of their Fort Lewis College duties, regardless of the physical form of the records, whether on paper, film, magnetic tape or other material, including machine readable records as well as other types.

In addition, the Center supports the College's Southwest Studies curriculum. The Center is a locus of research relating to the Southwest of the United States, especially the Four Corners region and Native Americans of the greater Southwest, and it collects historical, archaeological and ethnographic documentation and other materials that could further this research and that could support the mission of the Center of Southwest Studies. The first level of Special Collections acquisitions is the published research materials that a researcher would expect to find in a special collections library at a four-year undergraduate institution, to support learning and teaching about the U.S. Southwest and its Native Americans. These published research materials include books, periodicals, newspapers, microforms, maps and other formats. They are in the Center's library (as opposed to Reed Library - the College's general library) because they are either rare, out-of-print, irreplaceable, fragile, expensive, or indispensable for research at the Center, or because they possess archival value or pose unusual problems of housing and use. A rule of thumb is that a given publication belongs in the Center's library if it requires a humidity-controlled environment; otherwise it should be shelved with Southwest materials in the College's general library. The materials also include guides, manuals and reference works that inform the Center's staff and faculty in the performance of their duties. The materials do not include reading materials (materials for basic study), which are the province of Reed Library. Government documents and current maps are maintained at the general library. Reed Library staff who deaccession such items will offer them first to the Center. The second level of Special Collections acquisitions is primary source research materials, often unique, with a narrower geographic focus on the Four Corners region than is applied to the aforementioned published research materials, and they emphasize the three people groups that have most influenced the region's history and culture: Native Americans, Hispanic Americans and Euro-Americans of the Southwest.

The collecting policy is circumscribed by five parameters:

A. Geography
B. Chronology
C. Subject
D. Language
E. Cultural/religious sensibilities

Geography - "Southwest" is geographically defined as that area including the states of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Texas, west of US Highway 83 (except for 1519-1848, when all of Texas is included), all of Spanish California plus (for the years after 1848) the area south of and including San Francisco but including northern areas of California as regards the agriculture, water and labor issues of the Central Valley, and the borderland regions of Mexico.

Chronology and Subject - Chronologically, the materials cover all periods of historyâ¿¿to the present. By subject, the materials primarily cover the disciplines of anthropology, archaeology, archival/ museum management, the arts, history, literature, sociology and Southwest studies. We expect there to be little overlap with Reed Library holdings in this area. Materials in these subjects that meet the first and second levels described in the previous paragraphs would be at the Center. The collecting scope also includes, secondarily, materials related to the sciences of biology, geology and physics, as well as to the fields of business, cultural studies, current affairs, economics, education, intercultural studies/ethnic studies and current affairs. We expect there to be considerable overlap with Reed Library holdings in this area.

Language - Linguistically, the collecting policy emphasizes materials in English, with selected texts in Spanish and in Native American languages of the Southwest (Navajo, Ute, Tewa, etc.).

Cultural/Religious Sensibilities - In establishing this collecting parameter, the Center recognizes that religious convictions regarding certain objects may take precedence over their collection and preservation. In particular, the Center will decline to acquire for its collections objects known to have sacred significance to a Native American group from which the object(s) originated, if the group considers its possession or disposition of the object(s) to be essential. In addition, the Center will not knowingly acquire any object whose ownership or legality in this state or country is questionable or whose circumstances of collection are unethical or contrary to the goals and/or practices of the Center or the museum/archives professions in general.

The Center solicits historical materials from College administrators, faculty, students, alumni, and any person or institution with materials that meet the Center's collecting policy, resources permitting. Materials offered to the Center that do not fall within its collecting policy will be referred to an appropriate repository. Duplicate materials may be offered to appropriate repositories if the donor agreement permits. Holdings that do not reflect the Center's collecting policy may be deaccessioned and offered to other more appropriate institutions or to the donor or to the donor's family, depending upon the specifications in the donor agreement. In addition, the Center will systematically analyze its collections to weed the holdings of fragmentary, irrelevant, irretrievably deteriorated or duplicative materials. Deaccessions and referrals shall be made in consultation with the Reed Library staff as regards materials other than the ethnographic museum artifacts and in consultation with the Fort Lewis College Foundation as concerns materials donated through the Foundation. The Southwest Studies Advisory Committee shall be given opportunity to review all proposed deaccessions. The Committee may veto the deaccessioning recommendations/ decisions of the Archivist/Director.

VI. Access and Reference Policies

The Center of Southwest Studies serves as an information resource for persons researching the history and development of the Southwest and of Fort Lewis College. Its primary users are College administrators, faculty, students, alumni, and other immediate members of the College community. Its secondary users are members of the general public. The Center will be open to users at regular and convenient hours while the College is in session and, as resources permit, at regular and convenient hours when the College is not in session.

The goal of the Center is to provide access to all interested users on equal terms, taking into account the need to restrict access to some materials on grounds of privacy and of the confidentiality of the information they contain. This access will include, at the least, information about the Center's holdings, minimal reference service and help in using the materials, copying services, and a quiet, clean, well-lighted research area.

The Center will provide directly supervised access to all archivally processed collections, subject to any restrictions stated in the instrument of transfer or by law. (See the Center's General Restriction Policy Statement, form SW-2.) Most of the materials will be for supervised library use only at the Center and cannot be circulated. Arrangement and description of collections will be as complete as resources allow. To the degree that resources are available, the Center will provide information about its Special Collections to regional and/or national data bases. This information may include visual as well as textual access. An unprocessed collection may, at the discretion of the Archivist, be made available if the Center has a preliminary inventory of its contents, if access is unrestricted by the transfer instrument or law, and if the collection is in some kind of usable order. The predominant role of the Archivist in providing intellectual access will be the creation of finding aids to the materials; staff time for reference services to individualsâ¿¿providing information from the collectionsâ¿¿will be limited by the resources available. In any case, such reference service, whether in person or through the mail, by telephone or by other medium, will be limited to 30 minutes per user per month. Research is the responsibility of the user.

All users must comply with the Center's procedures for registration. (See the User Registration Form SW-1, Request for Special Collections Materials SW-16, and the Daily Register of Users SW-17.) The Center will maintain the confidentiality of user registration and use records. It may consult previous use records to assist others with related research (so long as this does not divulge the product of thought and time that the first party has invested in the research) and it should inform users of parallel research by other individuals, to avoid duplication of research work. The Center will respect each user's right to privacy as to the details of his or her own work, but cannot exclude other users from access to the sources used.

The Center is responsible to preserve the materials, which includes taking all reasonable and prudent measures to protect them from theft, from physical deterioration, and from unauthorized use. The Center's staff will enforce the Center's Special Collections Special Handling Guidelines (form SW-23). Staff may deny access to original materials when an available copy exists. Access to materials may be denied also if the Archivist and/or the Director deems that the use of the materials may cause significant damage to the materials. The Archivist and/or Director will attempt to provide an alternative form of access (such as a photocopy or microform version) in such circumstances. Furthermore, access may be denied to persons who have exhibited carelessness or destructiveness in the use of materials. The Center reserves the right to search items carried into or out of the research area.

Subject to copyright laws (cf. title 17, United States Code) and to access restrictions specified in donors' agreements, the Center will provide reproduction facilities for researchers' use. (See the Photograph Duplication Request Form SW-4 and the Photoduplication Request Form SW-18.) User fees will cover the Center's costs of providing reproductions of materials. Users wishing copies of materials must complete the appropriate form and must adhere to the procedures for such duplication. Permission to use materials does not imply permission to publish such materials in whole or in part, which must be obtained from the Center and/or the copyright holder in every instance.

VII. Records Management

Effective management of records and information generated, processed or received by the faculty, staff and students is essential to fulfilling the College's mission. An effective records management program assures economy and efficiency in the creation, organization, maintenance, use and retrieval of administrative records, assures the protection of records that are vital to the College and ensures the preservation of historically important records. Such a program requires the cooperation of all concerned. The Fort Lewis College Records Management Program Authorization signed by the President on 1/7/95 establishes the Center as the hub of FLC records management.

The Archivist, together with the Director, the Vice President for Academic Affairs, the Vice President for Business and Finance and the several College Deans and Department Heads, shall develop guidelines and procedures for the management of the current records of the College. They shall determine retention and disposal schedules for all types of records and shall see to it that such schedules are observed by all offices and departments of the College. The FLC Records Management Manual (SW-39) provides guidelines for all persons who are responsible for College records.


This policy was reviewed and approved by the Administrative Cabinet on November 28, 1995.