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Special Collections

More About Collections

Collecting Priorities

With the general scope of Tennesseanna, the library focuses on a few select topics for comprehensive coverage.  These areas of focus are:

  • Tennessee and the Civil War
  • Tennessee political materials of the 1800’s
  • Tennessee imprints
  • Confederate imprints
  • Great Smoky Mountains
  • Native American materials, primarily Cherokee and Creek Tribes
  • 20th and 21st Century Tennessee authors
  • Civil Rights activities in Tennessee
  • Tennessee Family Papers
  • University of Tennessee history

If the items coincide with established collecting priorities, other materials are also considered:

  • Books that exemplify historically important binding types or printing methods
  • Autographed books
  • Significant First editions
  • Limited editions of 250 or less

Collecting Methods


The Head of Special Collections is responsible for setting policy and coordinating collection development activities, in consultation with the Dean of Libraries and other Special Collections faculty.

Acquisitions through Purchase

Materials are selected and purchased from dealers, private individuals, or organizations.  Purchases are funded by Special Collections acquisitions funds, endowment income, and donations.  Special Collections does not purchase materials from UT employees.

Acquisitions through Gifts

For more information regarding donations

Special Collections solicits gifts of materials from individuals and organizations, and often works in conjunction with the Library Development Office.  Tennessee alumni, faculty members, and other members of the University community are encouraged to provide assistance in identifying potential donors.

In certain instances, potential donations may be deemed inappropriate for Special Collections due to content, condition, size, format, or other factors.  When possible, these donors should be referred to other more suitable repositories.

General Guidelines:

  • Duplication of holdings in Special Collections is generally avoided.
  • Loan or deposit materials are accepted only in rare cases.
  • In select circumstances, materials may be accepted with temporary use restrictions on condition that the materials are available for use within a reasonable period.
  • With the exception of University Archives, gifts of artwork and other artifacts are generally not accepted due to the lack of appropriate storage for such materials.
  • Special Collections may deselect any materials that do not meet the selection criteria outlined in this policy. Special Collections will consider any legal restrictions and the donor’s intent in the broadest sense.

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