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Local History and Archives Policy

Scope of Acquisition:

The archives will acquire historical material by donation, bequest, purchase, or transfer, regardless of medium, including: textual records; photographs and other visual records; maps, plans and architectural records; sound recordings or visual recordings; historical memorabilia and digital materials as per the collection mandate. 

The Local History and Archives department will only accept material on a permanent basis, except when borrowing material for short-term loans to reproduce or to include in displays or exhibits.


Limitations of Scope:

Notwithstanding intrinsic, informational or historical value of records, Local History and Archives will acquire records, taking into consideration the following:

  • the resources required to make the material available for research purposes in a reasonable period of time;
  • the extent and terms of any restrictions, the legal rights and/or requests of the donor to place the records in the Archives;
  • the records’ relationship to the strengths and weaknesses in the existing holdings;
  • the availability of appropriate storage facilities and the physical condition of the records in relation to the probability of being able to conserve them in a reasonable period of time;
  • the acquisition mandates of other institutions.

The Archives retains the right to reproduce materials by mechanical, electronic, or photographic means for security, conservation, or research purposes.

Methods of acquisition:

  • archival materials are generally acquired by donation and not by purchase. The Archives may determine to acquire material by purchase if it fulfils a critical gap within the collection with the approval of the Chief Librarian.
  • archival materials of private donors are accepted by gift, bequest, or transfer from another archival institution. A signed Deed of Gift is completed to transfer ownership and negotiated rights such as copyright of the records from the donor to the Hamilton Public Library.
  • the Hamilton Public Library’s institutional archival records are retained primarily according to approved records retention policy. The Archives does not function as a repository for financial records or human resources records.
  • the Archives does not accept as gifts, fonds that have been wilfully partitioned by a donor.
  • in special circumstances, Local History and Archives works in partnership with local organizations where records may be acquired by loan to allow copies to be prepared for community access and digitization where copyright is retained by the partner organization. In the case of each partnership, a letter of agreement or memorandum of understanding is signed defining the scope of the project and the rights and responsibilities of all parties.
  • tax receipts may be issued based on Canada Revenue Agency rules subject to external appraisal by individual(s) qualified in appraising historical records.

Access to Local History and Archive Collections:

Due to the rare and fragile nature of the Local History and Archives collections, access to collections housed in the Local History and Archives Department is limited to persons consulting archival material and carrying out their research in the Local History and Archives department. Within the department, staff are on hand to provide assistance and proper supervision to ensure the safe care and handling of materials.

Customers will be required to show identification and register for an archives card prior to viewing materials.

Physical access to collections housed in the Local History and Archives Department is limited to customers 14 years of age and older. Users under 14 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian unless other arrangements have been made and authorized by the Manager, Local History and Archives. 

We utilize recognized international and national archival, digitization and metadata standards to support physical and digital access to Local History and Archives collections and materials. In alignment with Library Board policy, we support the use of Creative Commons Licenses and the principle of open access with regard to digitization initiatives while upholding the terms of existing donor agreements, copyright and applicable law and legislation.

Barring the extent and terms of any restrictions, the legal rights and/or requests of the donor to place the records in the Archives, no person shall be prevented from using archival materials unless it is determined that the materials will be physically abused or used in a libellous or illegal manner.

The Library retains the right to charge for any reproduction or other research service as per the Library Board’s Fees and Fines Policy and schedule.

Materials from the Local History and Archives collection may be loaned to other institutions or organizations only under the following circumstances:

  • written authorization is obtained from the Manager, Local History and Archives (or designate);
  • the Archivist provides written documentation for the loan;
  • the borrower ensures adequate care and handling of the material on loan. If at any time Local History and Archives determines that the material on loan is not being cared for adequately, the Manager, Local History and Archives (or designate) may cancel the loan and request the immediate return of the material.