Henry Meade Williams Local History Department Collection Development Policy


The Library reserves the right to manage all materials within the Local History collection, subject to the terms of acquisition and the scope of the Local History collection as defined by this policy.

Purpose and Scope of the Collection

The Henry Meade Williams Local History Department is devoted to acquiring, preserving, and making available historically significant items concerning the history of Carmel-by-the-Sea. These collections include over 6,000 photographs, 2,000 books and letters, diaries, manuscripts, programs, maps, scrapbooks and works of art.  Materials within these collections are available to the public.


When acquiring materials for the Henry Meade Williams Local History Department, the Local History Librarian will keep in mind the information, educational, and research needs of the public it serves.  Authority for ordering, selecting and acquiring materials rests with the Local History Librarian, in consultation with the Library Director as appropriate.

The Local History Department will not accept donations of materials without legal transfer, deed of gift agreement, or other official acknowledgment.  Gifts are acquired based on the criteria established in this policy.  The Local History Department will not accept collections that are closed to public access in perpetuity.  Materials clearly beyond the scope of the Local History collection’s needs cannot be accepted, but may be referred to other institutions.  Materials donated to the library become its permanent property and cannot be returned to the donor, their descendants or other family members; the only time an item may be returned to a donor is during the de-accession process, as stated below.

No materials may be loaned to or deposited into the Local History collection unless for a special circumstance benefiting the Library.  Materials will be accepted only when they are within the scope of the Local History collection as defined by this policy.  All conditions of any loan or deposit must be stipulated in writing and approved by the Library Director.

Policies covering the loan of Harrison Memorial Library Local History materials to other agencies, museums, etc. are described in “Loan Policy for Library Art or Items of Historic Interest.”

The collections are intended to serve long-term interest and will be selected on the basis of future as well as current interest and potential.  Priority will be given to materials that increase understanding of the history and development of the Carmel area, as defined in “2” below.  The following priorities will be used in acquisition:

  1. Primary and Secondary Sources – Primary source material such as photographs, diaries, correspondence, and manuscript and record collections, documenting the history of the Carmel area is given the highest priority.  Secondary sources that supplement, provide background to, or enhance the geographic coverage of the Local History collection are also acquired according to the specific limits and levels below.
  2. Geographic Limits – Selection of new material is based on the following geographic limits and collection levels.  Current holdings that fall outside of these limits may be retained if they support the purpose of the Local History Collection and assist users in understanding materials that are within these limits.  Collectively, this area is known as the “Carmel area”, which includes:
    • City of Carmel-by-the-Sea
    • Unincorporated areas of Monterey County that directly surround the city of Carmel.
    • Carmel Valley, Carmel Highlands, Point Lobos, Big Sur, and Pebble Beach.
  3. Subject Areas – The Local History collection includes materials in all subject areas within the stated geographic limits, with particular emphasis on the social, cultural, political, architectural, economic, literary, and natural history of the City of Carmel and the Carmel area as stated in “2” above.
  4. Formats – The Local History collection is an integrated collection that acquires documentary material in most formats, including but not limited to monographs, manuscripts, textual records, correspondence, narratives, bound volumes, periodicals, maps, drawings, plans, microforms, photographs, sound recordings, films, videocassettes, DVDs, computer files, pamphlets, prints, and selected memorabilia and ephemera.  In most cases, the Library will not accept artifacts because of space and maintenance requirements.  Such offers will be referred to more appropriate museums and institutions. Materials in formats that are not currently accessible in the Local History collection because the required equipment is not available will be acquired only if a plan for providing public access to these materials is developed by the Local History Librarian.
  5. Clipping and Pamphlet File (The Nixon File) – The clipping file consists of clipped or photocopied articles from various newspapers, reports, histories, and periodicals.  This is an on-going collection with items added weekly.
  6. Languages – The collection consists primarily of works in the English language.
  7. Fiction, other imaginative literature, and biographies – Works of fiction, poetry, drama, biography, and children’s materials are collected if they are of significant historical value within the scope of the Local History collection as defined by this policy.  A work may be of significant historical value if:
    • It provides unique and accurate historical information
    • It documents an important perspective on the Carmel area
    • Its publication had a significant historical impact
    • It is of notable literary or artistic value
  8. Local Artists and Authors – Works of Carmel area authors, as stated in “2” above, may be collected in the Local History collection at the general interest level.  When determining whether or not a title should be added, the following guidelines will be used:
    • The author is a resident of the Carmel area
    • The work pertains to the Carmel area
    • The work is of significant merit and enduring value
    • The work would not be more appropriately placed elsewhere in the library’s collection.
  9. Library and Municipal Records – Library and municipal records will not be transferred to or accepted by the Local History collection until Library or City officials have determined that such records are inactive.  Records accepted by the Local History collection must be of significant historical value within the scope of the Local History collection as defined by this policy.
  10. Local and Regional Government Publications – Documents published by local and regional government agencies may be retained in the Local History collection if they are of historical significance for the City of Carmel.  Because of the volume of documents published and space limitations, the following types of documents are generally not included:
    • Documents that relate primarily to other jurisdictions
    • Documents that are available in other publicly accessible collections in the local area
    • Draft documents when the final versions are available
  11. Partial Collections – No partial archival collection will be accepted if significant portions of the collection have already been deposited in another institution and a partition of the collection would adversely affect its integrity or research value.


The Local History Librarian may periodically deaccession items and materials from the collections following review by the Library Director.  This process will keep the collections current and viable, and ensure that all collected items fall within the scope of the Local History Department’s collection priorities.

The following guidelines will be used when evaluating an item for deaccession:

  1. The material does not fall within the selection criteria of the collection policy.
  2. The material has little research or informational value.
  3. The material requires excessive storage space or maintenance effort (which exceeds the material’s value).
  4. The material is a duplicate of an item not in high demand, and no future demand for the item is predicted.
  5. The material has deteriorated beyond any real usefulness.

Once an item has been selected for deaccessioning, the Local History Librarian will use one of the following disposal choices, based upon condition of the item, donor information, and professional judgment.

  1. The material may be offered to a more appropriate institution.
  2. The material may be returned to the donor when the donor can be located.
  3. Materials may be sold at a private or public auction (exclusively for deaccessioned duplicates of a discrete item.)
  4. If none of these options are viable, the materials may be destroyed.

Generally, the Library will find an appropriate alternate repository for materials determined to be outside the scope of the Local History department’s collection development policy.  Any monies made from the sale of deaccessioned items will be allocated for the care of Local History collections.


The Harrison Memorial Library recognizes the importance of digital collections for access to, and preservation of, the Local History Collection. To that end, the Local History Department will digitize items from its collection based on selection criteria within the scope of the Library’s resources. The development and management of digital collections involves project management and strategic planning; metadata creation and management; the development and use of systems to create, manage, preserve, and deliver digital content; and the ongoing assessment of digital collections and services.

The Local History department will, to the best of its ability, adhere to national and international community-based standards and best practices, including A Framework of Guidance for Building Good Digital Collections (NISO) and the Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative (FADGI) for digitizing cultural heritage materials in all digitization work to produce preservation quality digital objects as part of the development of coherent digital collections.

The following criteria are considered when selecting materials for digitization:

  • Subject areas in demand, and anticipated to be in demand by the public
  • Materials that support exhibitions
  • Preservation
  • Scan-on-demand and interlibrary loan requests
  • Format and physical characteristics
  • Unique, rare, or special collections not widely available
  • Complement or expand existing digital collections internally or in concert with Library partners or affiliates
  • Existing metadata to aid in the organization and description of the object
  • Rights and restrictions associated with the object

(Adopted by Harrison Library Board September 2004. Revised January 2014; January 2018.)