Michigan State University

On March 16, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an Executive Order temporarily closing many public spaces. All academic libraries are included in this order. The Main Library is closed, but we still offer virtual services and many resources do remain available. Please see our Online and Distance Learning resource page for specific Library resources. Reference services are still available via chat and phone. We do have temporary policies for returning/renewing material.

Collection Policies

Special Collections is charged with the responsibility to house, collect, preserve, and make accessible rare and special books and research collections for educational use. Special Collections now holds over 450,000 printed works, numerous manuscript and archival collections, and an extensive collection of ephemera.


Special Collections acquires unique and special materials to serve the teaching, research, and service mission of Michigan State University. Materials, including printed works, manuscripts, archives, artifacts, ephemera, and media, may be purchased, donated, or accepted as transfers from the MSU Libraries' circulating stacks. Purchases are financed by annual University materials budget funding and interest from endowments specified for Special Collections. Donor inquiries are welcomed as are inquiries from MSU Libraries bibliographers for transferring material from the circulating stacks to Special Collections.

Collecting Priorities

Collecting priorities are determined for the most part by the existing strengths of Special Collections. Occasionally new collecting areas are added to support curriculum, teaching, and/or research needs of the University. New areas of collecting my also develop to respond to future scholarship needs, or as a result of a gift. Given the limits of space, staff, and resources, all collecting must be selective.


Special Collections accepts gifts, but they must be accompanied by a deed of gift, or a similar legal instrument. All gifts accepted become the property of Michigan State University.


In general, Special Collections does not accept materials on deposit, unless there is the understanding that the materials will be donated at a later date.

Deaccessioning Material

Occasionally materials may be deaccessioned if they duplicate existing holdings or do not serve the mission needs of the University.

Transfer of General Collection Material to Special Collections

All materials identified as printed before 1800, and all material printed before 1830 in the continental United States will be transferred to Special Collections regardless of content, form, or condition. Special Collections also accepts transfers from the General Collection if the material’s value, rarity, content, and/or condition warrants greater security. In consultation with the appropriate bibliographer transfers are also accepted if the material fits the collecting interest of Special Collections.