Gifts in Kind Policy

Columbia University Libraries is grateful for the generosity of its donors and welcomes gifts of materials that will significantly advance the scholarly, research, and teaching mission of the University.  

How to Offer a Gift

The Libraries’ Collection Development Policies for subject areas and resource formats outline the general scope of the Libraries’ programs and collecting areas.  Please contact one of the Libraries’ Subject Specialists if you have books, photographs, maps, artwork, music, film, archival materials (manuscripts, papers, correspondence, ephemera), or other items that you believe may enhance the Libraries’ collections.  For gifts of rare materials, please also contact the Director of the relevant collection (Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Global Studies, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, C.V. Starr East Asian Library).  For general inquiries, please contact giftsinkind@library.columbia.edu.

In conjunction with the donation of materials (gifts in kind), we encourage donors to also consider providing monetary gifts that will directly support processing, so researchers will be able to access and use these important collections as quickly as possible.  In such instances, the Libraries can help provide cost estimates for processing, cataloging, preservation, and/or conservation.  Decisions as to acceptance of any in-kind donation may be informed by the availability of sufficient donated funds to enable the Libraries to appropriately process the item and undertake additional measures to ensure its use and good condition.

Conditions of Gift Acceptance

Columbia University Libraries is unable to take all materials offered, accepting only those that are within the scope of its collections policies and targeted growth areas.  Although exceptions may be made for rare or unique materials, the following generally fall outside of the Libraries’ acquisitions policies:

  • items that are duplicated in our collection (except when replacing volumes of significance that are in poor condition);

  • textbooks;

  • children’s books;

  • popular fiction and trade books;

  • issues of journals/periodicals;
  • media (e.g., DVDs, video/audio cassettes, CDs);
  • popular magazines.

Likewise, material that shows signs of mold, infestation, or significant degradation will not be accepted.  

The Libraries does not accept unsolicited gifts and reserves the right to dispose of unsolicited materials in any manner it deems appropriate.  The Libraries may request to examine and assess collections in person, in advance of their transfer to the Libraries, as part of the process for determining if a gift can be accepted, whether in whole or in part. 

Terms of use and rights to the donated materials will be determined in a Deed of Gift, including the rights to use the materials for teaching and learning purposes.  If funds are donated  to facilitate processing, use, and care of the item(s), this additional donation will also be specified in the Deed of Gift agreement.

Gifts of materials that are accepted by the Libraries become the property of Columbia University.  Once the Libraries takes possession of an item, the Libraries retains the right to make all decisions with regard to its storage, location, processing, access, use, retention, reformatting/digitization, and removal.

Gift Appraisal & Acknowledgement

Donors may be eligible for state and federal income tax benefits as a result of a gift in kind.  However, under Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations, the Libraries is not permitted to appraise gifts.  Appraisals are the sole responsibility of the donor and should be completed before the donor transfers the property to the Libraries.  

Donors should refer to the IRS’s Publication 561: Determining the Value of Donated Property for information on gift appraisals accepted by the IRS for tax purposes.  The Libraries does not pay or reimburse for such appraisals, nor does it authenticate the qualifications of appraisers or the validity of their appraisals.  

The Libraries does not advise on matters related to the tax implications of a gift; prospective donors should consult with the IRS or a legal or tax expert in his/her home state or country prior to transferring a gift to Columbia University Libraries.  Donors may ask the University to complete the ‘Donee Acknowledgment’ portion of the IRS Form 8283: Noncash Charitable Donations.  All forms and documents related to the donation of property should be presented to the Libraries as a part of the transfer of materials.  

The Libraries will provide donors of property with a written acknowledgment of the gift. 

Gifts of Financial Support

Donors wishing to provide financial support for a wide range of funding needs may visit Giving to Columbia University Libraries for information on our Development program.  Direct contributions may be made online.