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Collection development policy statement

MIT Libraries Department of Distinctive Collections coordinates collection management and service strategy for the Libraries’ combined rare and unique collections. The collections focus on the expansive history of science and technology, art and architecture, and materials unique to MIT. They highlight the research, people, and activities that illustrate and make possible MIT’s commitment “to generating, disseminating, and preserving knowledge … to bring this knowledge to bear on the world’s great challenges.” The Department of Distinctive Collections works on collection building within the values framework of the MIT Libraries Enduring Vision.

To allow the best use of our resources for our collections development policy, the DDC has developed a set of core principles. These principles guide our appraisal and acquisitions decisions.

Core Principles for DDC Collection Development

Digital First

We commit to being a digital-first library. We will focus efforts to collect digital content and content that can be made accessible in digital formats.


We collect with the purpose and intent to make material discoverable, and as widely available as possible. We aim to ensure broad, inclusive, open, and unhindered access to collections by all users. We strive to build a collection that can be available for computational uses.

Responsibility & Stewardship

When appraising potential acquisitions we collaborate across the Libraries to consider the resources and capacity required to collect and care for materials in perpetuity. We seek to ensure that we are the best home for the material.


We capture and manage information about the collections’ origin and context (provenance), and integrity (fixity) so that our collections may be used as reliable, authentic, and trustworthy.

Broadening the Record

We thoughtfully and intentionally develop collections that contain content by and about a wide array of identities, cultures and viewpoints. We do this with the goal of authentically reflecting a variety of ideas, information, stories, and experiences; prioritizing those of marginalized or underrepresented communities.

Context and Connections

We strive to build a collection by acquiring materials with related contexts, connected narratives, and perspectives.

Distinctly MIT

We cultivate collections that are unique and distinctly MIT in support of the curricular and extracurricular activities of our community. We do this by bringing in unique and rare materials that reflect and capture the work of MIT’s community.