Skip to content
Skip to navigation menu


Policies and Procedures


Special Collections & Archives (SCOLAR) 

Archives policy statement, 2005 

i/ Name

Cardiff University Library Service, Cardiff University, PO Box 430, Cardiff, CF10 3XQ.

ii/ Status of SCOLAR

SCOLAR is an official component of the Cardiff ULS, part of the University’s Professional Services and is governed by the relevant University statutes, regulations etc. 

SCOLAR has the long term aim of meeting the National Archives' standards for record repositories and archives. 

SCOLAR was identified in the University’s strategic review of the ULS as an area of significant potential value to Cardiff and to scholarship and research nationally and internationally.

iii/ Scope of Policy

Mission Statement:

Cardiff University’s University Library Service seeks to provide relevant library and information resources and services to support the research and teaching programmes of its academic schools, and relevant archives will be acquired, preserved and made accessible, to further this aim. The institutional archives of the University will also be preserved as a core function of the related records management services in the University. These written guidelines are intended to provide for consistency and continuity in the management of the Library archives, and as information for users and potential donors.

a/ Geographical area

The relevant academic departments and schools have particular interests in Welsh, British and European studies; specific, relevant materials will be considered as appropriate, if they relate strongly to academic research fields or have other strong connections with Wales and are of national, or international significance.

b/ Subject coverage

Those key areas covered by academic sections and schools’ core research will be considered for primary acquisition, especially where the archives would allow independent research in important primary source materials in their core research fields.

The personal archives of recognised, distinguished members of the University’s current and former senior academic staff will be a specific priority area for long term preservation by SCOLAR.

c/ Chronological coverage

The priority for acquisition is material from the eighteenth century onwards; however earlier material will be considered if it relates strongly to core academic research fields. Cardiff University will build on past collection strengths, but be sensitive to new developments and new research fields.

d/ Genre or Media type

Records in all formats are accepted, however digital media may be retained as an analogue equivalent for preservation purposes.

e/ Cooperation and Exclusions

SCOLAR will seek mutually beneficial partnerships with key related public archive repositories — including the Glamorgan Record Office and the National Library of Wales — to avoid unnecessary overlaps and duplication of effort and so provide the best possible service to scholarship and research.

iv/ Process of collection

SCOLAR will acquire materials through donation, long term and permanent deposit, and occasionally purchase. The Repository accepts the principle that there is a strong presumption against the dispersal or de-accessioning of any documents in its ownership.

v/ Access

SCOLAR aspires to conform to the National Archives guidelines on public access to its archival collections, via cataloguing, listing, and preservation.

Where appropriate, relevant materials will be digitised for access over the Web, and all of these resources will be appropriately publicised.

Physical access to the archives will be provided for all bona fide researchers, in the relevant supervised areas.

Professional archive staff will be available to support the use of SCOLAR’s resources.


SCOLAR will work towards achieving present and developing National and International Standards in the housing, preservation, and access to our archival holdings, including, amongst others in the National Archives  ‘Framework of Standards’:

  • Benchmarks for Collection Care for Libraries. British Library/NPO, 2000.
  • National Archives Policy for Wales. ACW, 2000.
  • Standard for Access to Archives. National Archives, 2003.
  • Recommendations for the Storage and Exhibition of Archive Documents. BS5454, BSI, 2000.
  • International Standard Archival Description. ISAD(G), ICA, 2000.
  • Planning a New Record Repository. The National Archives, June 2004.

Back to top



Cardiff University Library

Policy guidelines on the development of historical library collections


1/ General Purpose


The policy will enable the Library to provide collections that enhance the historical understanding of the key research subjects covered previously and presently by Cardiff University academic Schools.

In the University Library, the Special Collections and Archives (SCOLAR) will liaise with University site libraries to utilise their past, present, and future documentary resources to develop a critical mass of historical texts which highlight the key research milestones in the subjects covered by academic Schools.


2/ Cardiff University


From its foundation year in 1883/4 the ‘University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire’ had professors in the subjects of: Greek, Latin, French, German, History, English, Philosophy, Welsh, Music, Chemistry, Mathematics, and Physics. Later, ‘University College Cardiff’, U.C.C. as it became, merged with UWIST, and the specialist subjects of Architecture, Optometry, Pharmacy, Town Planning, and Business studies were added to its subject portfolio. In 2004 a merger with the University of Wales College of Medicine added Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing and Healthcare studies to Cardiff University’s research subjects. As of 2007 Cardiff University has 29 established academic Schools, also including Biosciences, Computer Science, Earth and Planetary Sciences, Social Sciences, Engineering, Journalism and Media, Law, and Psychology; it also has about 100 research centres spread across these subject areas.


3/ Library Policies


The University Library already has an overall Collection Development ‘Strategy’ for the University Libraries, within which Special Collections and Archives have a defined role – one element of this is:

“Develop our historical strengths in special collections to support Schools’ research”.


SCOLAR develops its collections via several means:

-         creating (digital) collections in-house,

-         re-locating and integrating (historical) collections internally in the Library,

-         acquiring donated collections which support research or teaching,

-         purchasing individual items to fill gaps in specialist collections,

-         connecting via web links to appropriate e-resources of a historical nature.


ULS Collection Development Strategy notes that donations will be accepted if:

“of significant use for current or foreseeable teaching or research”. Priority will be given to those which:

-         maintain present research strengths in a subject area,

-         those which remedy a known weakness in a collection,

-         those which add to the teaching breadth or research depth of a University subject.


Site libraries will be developing ‘Collection Level Agreements’ with their Schools (as part of the University Library Collection Development Strategy). Many Schools will wish to ensure that not only are their current information needs addressed, but their key historical collections are developed appropriately.

Also, given the University’s emphasis on the ‘interdisciplinary’ nature of much research, some Schools’ library collections will be of interest to those researching in cognate subjects. SCOLAR will enable site libraries to transfer lesser used research materials internally in the Library, to a central core historical set of collections which chronicle key milestones in all of the subjects covered by academic Schools in the University.

Lesser used historical research material will be held in the Library Store, while more heavily used historical and specialist research collections will be held in SCOLAR in the Arts and Social Studies Library. Subject Librarians will be able to determine which category is appropriate for material they choose to transfer within the Library.


4/ Collecting and Disposal Criteria


Collecting Criteria:


The standard set of general criteria for developing research collections is outlined in the ‘Conspectus Assessment’ method; this has six levels:

0 – material is not collected for a subject.

1 – limited range of general information works only are acquired.

2 – reference and introductory level works are acquired.

3 – undergraduate level materials are extensively acquired.

4 – research level materials are extensively acquired.

5 – comprehensive collections are acquired (e.g., copyright libraries).

(For electronic sources a ‘defined access’ range of sources is noted for each level).


It further outlines the types of work which constitute a research collection if extensively acquired;

-         broad chronological coverage,

-         key author’s works,

-         key critical commentaries,

-         foreign language and translated sources,

-         full sets or series,

-         primary source materials.


From the perspective of SCOLAR, specific criteria to aid historical collection development via acquisition or retention are:

-         texts by, or related to, previous key academics in Cardiff University,

-         classic texts in their time on subjects covered by academic Schools,

-         1st editions before 1950, especially for scientific texts,

-         very rare, or unique, copies held only in the University library,

-         ‘rare books’ in most fields can be defined for historical purposes as those published pre-1850: SCOLAR is moving towards the date pre-1900,

-         texts with handwritten annotations in them by key researchers or authors.


Prioritised collection development will take place in the fields of present strengths amongst our subject coverage and current research interests; these include:

  • Welsh and Celtic studies
  • Journalism and the Media
  • European Music Studies
  • History of Medicine and Biosciences
  • Business/Finance History
  • English Literature
  • Architecture
  • British Historical Studies
  • Industrial and Engineering History
  • International Religious Studies


Disposal Criteria:


Texts which can be safely discarded if not likely to be required for present or future research within SCOLAR or any School in the University, and not of any historical interest (above criteria noted) would include:


-         superseded or out of date modern scientific, medical, legal and similar texts,

-         duplicate copies of texts held in other Cardiff University libraries,

-         badly damaged and unusable copies,

-         large sets or series which are readily available in a nearby library or online,

-         individual texts of no current or historical value, and unrelated to any present collections.


Schools views on any major disposal of material would obviously be canvassed by the relevant Subject Librarian in advance of any stock disposal. Alternative external locations for the deposit of such material would also be considered, prior to disposal; these include other research libraries, or the British Library’s research reserve for lesser used dated journal series.


5/ Management and Implementation


The University Library’s committee for this topic, the Collection Development Working Group, will have a supervisory remit for policies in this area. It will receive reports from SCOLAR and site libraries on an annual basis on developments in this policy arena, and report to the University Library Management Team on its activities. It has a sub-group which explores the potential for external cataloguing grants for these types of collections; membership includes Subject Librarians and the Head of SCOLAR.

The Collection Development Working Group will be responsible for updating this policy on an ongoing basis, usually in a three year cycle, or as required by developments in the University and the Library, relating to research and teaching information support services.

The Head of SCOLAR and Site and Subject Librarians will be responsible for initiating individual projects in this area, whether acquisition of new or donated material, internal transfer of material, or disposal of material, within the overall remit of this policy. The Head of SCOLAR will advise any Subject Librarians on the potential historical usefulness of collections or individual items, to determine if materials are appropriate for retention, transfer, or disposal according to the above guidelines.


Appendix:  Retention Checklist


‘Special Collections’ : -  What constitutes their ‘Special’ nature ?

 A checklist for deciding whether to retain ‘special’ or ‘historical’ Library sources.


General library collections have shared common features across the world:

-         mainly book collections

-         loanable

-         popular materials

-         for the general reader

-         on open access shelves.


The term ‘Special Collections’ is widely used by many types of libraries to describe collections which do not share the features mentioned above. The reasons for this specifically  ‘Special’  nature can include any or all of the following.



Unique materials, old out of print items, limited editions, signed copies, a collection of a specific individual, etc.



‘Non-standard’ format materials (i.e. not books), such as maps, microfilms, photographs, prints, old journals or old newspapers, audio or video sources, etc.



The individual collection items are not special, but the overall collection, its critical mass for research, does make it special.



Some resources, e.g., archives and manuscripts, are required to be used in special conditions, generally under supervision; other sources may require assistance from staff for their use, e.g. older audio or video sources.



A collection may be recognized as of regional, national, or international importance in its field.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   


Within the context of SCOLAR, all of its collections match at least two of these above criteria. (These are noted along the top axis of the Checklist below).


The other key criterion for a SCOLAR collection, is that it is intended to support the teaching or research programmes of Schools within the University. (The left hand column in the Checklist below notes these issues).


Checklist for determining whether to retain Library sources for ‘Special Collections’: (whether they are ‘Special’, and why they should be retained)





Retain  ?






Relates to current research






Relates to current teaching






Potential for use by other subjects

( cross- disciplinary)






Fills gap in historical research or teaching collection






Relates to the history of Cardiff University or a School






Aesthetic value (annotations, signed copy, etc)






‘Prestige’ item (value, rarity, etc).






Back to top



Cardiff University Library

Policy guidelines on acquiring archives and personal papers from senior lay members, academic staff, alumni, and related University individual supporters




Any major university will naturally retain an archive of its official records, such as committee minutes, financial and legal documents, student records, etc. These ensure business efficiency, legal compliance, and over time encapsulate the official historical record of the university’s work and achievements. An outline of the official records presently being archived for Cardiff University can be viewed here.


However, another more informal but important set of records are the personal papers and working documents of senior academics and other senior individuals involved in a University’s work , which provide a unique insight into the intellectual and social climate of the University. Over time such individuals’ private papers become original historical source material and acquire an importance for research that cannot be underestimated. Such material tends to be unpublished, unique, primary documentary sources that reflect the personal, working, and professional life of a University’s key individuals.


Any major University can utilize such documentary sources to support its research, teaching, profile enhancement and fund raising programmes, via the systematic identification, acquisition, arrangement, preservation, cataloguing, select digitisation,  and provision of physical access to these resources for scholars in all subjects. Many  major American universities are already doing this.




To support its wider research and teaching programmes Cardiff University Library should seek to systematically identify and acquire the key archival papers of major academics and lay individuals associated with the University.


This should be led by the Library’s Special Collections and Archives section, within the University Library,  with the responsibility for obtaining grant funding as appropriate to make these resources available for study, and for publicizing the acquisition of such papers to the relevant scholarly and related communities who may wish to access the documents.


Criteria and scope


The following criteria will be used to assess priorities in order to acquire personal archives from the University’s key staff and supporters. The core questions which these criteria address are:

-         whose papers should be archived,

-         which papers should be archived,

-         why should such papers be archived.


The literature on this topic suggests certain key groups of individuals as most important:

-         researchers who have an international reputation in their field,

-         researchers who have had a major influence outside their academic field,

-         those whose teaching had a national or international influence,

-         academics who had a major role in ‘causes’ outside of their subject field,

-         key individuals who have had an extensive involvement (20+ years) in their university management,

-         those individuals whose personal papers overlap with a prioritised area of collecting policy within the University or Library archive repositories.


A select range of documentary sources should be identified for preservation:

-         standard categories such as correspondence (including emails), diaries, notebooks, and unpublished papers;

-         for empirical researchers both unique observational data and testable experimental data should be preserved;

-         a CV and photograph of the archive donor should be obtained;

-         key teachers should have select examples of their lecture and related teaching records preserved;

-         records with major hand written annotations by the academic should be retained;

-         for those in cultural, artistic or literary subjects, materials with aesthetic and ‘unique’ cultural significance, such as drafts of key literary works should be preserved;

-         for those involved in ‘causes’ outside their university role key records such as speeches, press cuttings, and associated documents;

-         key electronic records of their work should be retained, and preserved long term, and these could be in the form of emails, e-data, or audio-video e-records.


The rationale for preserving such records is:

-         the ‘evidential’ nature of many records associated with innovative research,

-         the historical and contemporary ‘research value’ of many of these papers,

-         the unique insight given by many of these records into the people and topics covered by them,

-         the ‘aesthetic’ or ‘cultural’ value of certain documents in the arts and humanities.


Within major Universities these collections are most often used for:

-         new academic research,

-         university histories,

-         exhibitions,

-         student papers

-         media enquiries.


Practical issues which may militate against too broad an interpretation of these categories  include:

-         archives which are not ‘likely’ to be used sufficiently often,

-         those which require too much processing or staff work,

-         those which raise privacy issues,

-         those which have data in too fragile or difficult a medium to preserve.


Implementation and management


Special Collections and Archives is already advised by an academic committee which meets twice a year, the SCOLAR Forum; (the Forum includes the University Records Manager as one of its members). This Forum should provide the longer term guidance on matters in this policy field. The Forum will suggest names, advise on priorities, assist with contacts, liaise with the Library and University on funding and resourcing issues, and help promote and publicize these University assets.


The University Librarian and the Head of Special Collections and Archives will be responsible for ensuring the policies are implemented as resources allow within Information Services. Both will liaise with the University Modern Records Manager, to ensure a coordinated approach is adopted across the University in this policy field.


The day to day management responsibility of these archives lies with the Head of Special Collections and Archives, and the SCOLAR staff team.