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Archives & Special Collections Policy

This Policy outlines how the Archives & Special Collections will be developed to support and enhance learning, teaching and research practice across the University.

It will also provide guidance on what the Archives & Special Collections collects and does not collect, the method by which it does so, and how the collections are accessed and managed.

Mission Statement
Archives & Special Collections seeks to ensure that the materials in its care are preserved for the future for use by the academic and wider community.  Actively seeking to extend its collections through the donation of materials which supplement and complement its existing holdings and is responsive to the changing needs of the University, its staff and students.  In partnership with the academic community it will also seek to ensure materials are effectively used to inform and enhance learning, teaching, research and knowledge transfer activities.

Collections Overview
Archives & Special Collections focuses on the creative arts with particular interests in animation and photography.  Collections are distributed over the University's campuses: Canterbury, Epsom and Farnham. Materials consist of paper, analogue black and white, and colour photographs, digitally born images (DVDs, CDs, video) and acetate cels.  Collection highlights include:

University Archive reflects the University’s heritage and impact of its six founder art schools, Guildford, Maidstone, Rochester, Canterbury, Farnham and Epsom. Relevant materials have been transferred or donated by departments and past and present staff, and alumni of the University.

Collecting priorities: see Appendix 1.  Significant gaps in the records: there are no foundation records of the founder art school.  The Archive does not collect research outputs or artworks of past and present staff and alumni.

Animation Archive 420 boxes, consisting of scripts, storyboards, acetate cels, correspondence, character design sheets, and photographs. The Archive include the work of Bob Godfrey (who founded the University’s animation course) dating from the 1970s, and material donated by Daniel Greaves, Director of Tandem Films, and Kristian Andrews (both alumni of UCA) and drawings from lecturer Stuart Hilton.

Collecting priorities: personal papers and work of significant alumni and past and present staff; oral histories and archives of individuals named in the existing holdings. The Archive does not collect objects and puppets.

Activist Archives spans across the 1980s and 1990s. Representing marginalised  communities. The Tessa Boffin Archive reflects her work as a photographer and performer developed around LGBT, gay and lesbian culture, cross dressing, HIV, AIDS. Materials include photographs, project books, reviews, draft articles of work, VHS of conference recordings, also the Tessa Boffin annotated personal library. The Working Press, published books by and about working class artists 1986-1996, covering areas in race, feminism, disability, class, nationality (including Polish artists/writers). Co-founders of the Working Press were Stefan Szczelkun and Graham Harwood. Records include correspondence, draft manuscripts, and conference records.

Collecting priorities: Oral histories and/or archives of individuals and activists featured within the Working Press and Tessa Boffin Archive and other 1980s and 1990s activist records that complement the Working Press and Tessa Boffin collections.

History of Graphic Design Archive holds records documenting the history of Graphic Design and Typography. It includes the Diagram Group, a cooperative group of designers, writers, artists and editors, existing from the 1960s.  The collection includes the original artwork of the books, finished product, and correspondence. The Archive also holds the concept design artwork of Foundry Types and the Typographic Circle poster collection.

Collecting priorities: similar graphic design organisations complementing existing holdings from the late twentieth century.

Other Collections

Materials Library
The Materials Library was introduced as a teaching resource in 2016 and contains a collection of material samples reflecting innovative material design and processes.

Rare Book Collections
A range of special book collections and rare books, including the Herbert Read Collection, Zines and Artists Books.

Archives & Special Collections have developed links with other relevant organisations in the region who hold materials which are appropriate to the learning, teaching and research in the creative arts (see Appendix 2 for details).

Collection Criteria
In assessing collections and materials for ingestion Archives & Special Collections will also consider:

The content must support learning, teaching and research in the creative arts and be of interest to the wider community rather than individuals.

Art archives can be particularly difficult in terms of copyright, licensing and commercial exploitation.  Potential donors will have the option to retain or gift copyright to the University.  Either way, the University will require a licence to use collections and materials for educational and promotional purposes. General Data Protection Regulations will be discussed with donors, but collections and materials which require complete closure cannot be accepted.

Space and expertise permitting Archives & Special Collections will accept a wide range of formats: archival documents (such as paper, photographic); ephemera (including postcards, flyers); audiovisual material (including VHS, CDs, cassettes); born digital material (including JPG, TIFF, PDF, Word); oversized material; moving image; press cuttings (where these supplement existing holdings); and printed books.

Archives & Special Collections cannot accept material that may be harmful to users or may prove a fire risk, such as nitrate.  The archive does not accept newspaper runs and museum artwork or objects (unless intrinsic to the understanding of the collection).

In line with the establishment of the University’s founding art schools and existing collections, Archives & Special Collections predominantly take collections and materials from the mid-19th century to the present day.

The Archives are largely English, with a small collection of French materials, while the Archives & Special Collections does support an international student cohort, and can take materials in other languages, the overall collections should be in line with the University’s preferred academic language.

Collection Size
The size of collection will be considered before acceptance to ensure the Archives & Special Collections has sufficient resources to process and store materials appropriately.

Collecting Processes
Due to the complexities of involved in the long-term management of deposits Archives & Special Collections now only accepts collections and materials by gift. Donors must confirm that they have legal right to the material.  Donation is recorded in writing, and will detail obligations, licenses, access and legislation requirements.

University records are transferred internally (although materials donated by alumni and past and present staff will be by donation).  Rare books and archival material identified within the existing Library holdings will be transferred as appropriate.

There is no budget allocation for the specific acquisition by Archives & Special Collections, although requests maybe made when collections and materials are deemed vital to the operation and function of the University.

Archives & Special Collections are proactive, collecting in line with our subject specialisms, particularly with regard to vulnerable media such as VHS, CDs and born digital media.

Appraisal, Retention & Disposal
In accordance with our standard practice Archives & Special Collections will remove duplicate materials as appropriate, and in doing so will advise donors.

The Archivist will be responsible for appraising material that will have continuing value for learning, teaching and research. If Archives & Special Collections are unable to provide sufficient care of materials or following re-appraisal they no longer wish to retain materials, they will be offered back to the donor. If return is refused then Archives and Special Collections will seek a suitable alternative repository or will securely destroy at the University’s discretion.

Accessioning and Cataloguing
Records are catalogued using ISAD(G) and published using the online Archive catalogue.  Rare books are catalogued using MARC/AACR2 and records published online using the Library catalogue.  The location of pamphlets, zines and books that appear within Archives & Special Collections are at the discretion of the Archivist based on an assessment of academic need, region and space.

The Library will review this Policy every three years and any significant change will be considered and approved by the Director of Student Services.


September 2022
Review: September 2025

Deposits are taken only in accordance with legal requirements and departmental records retention schedules.  This criteria is indicative not exhaustive -

  • Records relating to Academic Administration
  • Examination results
  • Annual reports
  • Committee and Faulty minutes
  • Course review: minutes, module information and annual monitoring reports
  • Course delivery: course handbooks, teaching and learning materials
  • Policy and strategy: Academic Board Minutes
  • University Publications
  • Prospectuses
  • Degree shows
  • Records relating to academic awards
  • List of honorary graduates/Prizes awarded
  • Minutes/agendas
  • Records relating to strategy, policy and procedures development
  • Annual reports/key records
  • Records relating to estates and environmental management
  • Leases
  • Property development
  • Designs
  • Presentation records (drawing, photographs and models)
  • Publicity
  • Catalogues
  • Site surveys and investigations
  • Estates and environmental strategy development
  • Records related to Human Resources
  • Equality and diversity management: minutes
  • Performance management of selected key personnel
  • Staff training and development
  • Records related to health and safety 
  • Minutes and policies
  • Records related to information management
  • Selected documents from archives and special collections (gift agreement and exhibitions catalogues)
  • Selected documents from Library and Student Services (strategy, policies and guides)
  • Records related to publicity and external relations
  • Event guest lists, photographs and programmes
  • Newsletters and alumni magazines
  • Annual reports
  • Chancellors and Vice-Chancellor visits and events
  • Publicity material
  • Vice-Chancellors speeches and presentations
  • Research
  • Conducting research: successfully external or internally funded projects
  • The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum (University of Exeter)
  • Brunel University (Working class records)
  • Kent History Centre
  • Kent University (Cartoon Archive)
  • Surrey History Centre
  • Working Class Movement Library (Salford)
  • Women’s Library (Goldsmiths)