Gifts-in-Kind Policy

The George Mason University Libraries welcome gifts of books, manuscripts, music, and other research materials. It is, in part, through such generosity that the Libraries are able to add depth to the academic resources available to our community. Particular interest is paid to scholarly, current, or rare items in good physical condition. The following guidelines are offered to assist donors. Based upon these criteria, the University Libraries retain the right to accept or decline all potential gifts.

I. General Guidelines

Due to the high costs of managing the gift process, the Libraries’ goals in accepting gifts are to acquire only materials which are highly relevant to the university’s needs. All potential gifts will be evaluated by subject expert librarians in accordance with the collection development policies of the George Mason University Libraries. Potential gift items will meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Support the University’s current and evolving curriculum and academic disciplines;
  • Sustain the research needs of faculty and students;
  • Augment collections of depth;
  • Enhance the unique and noteworthy holdings of George Mason University Libraries special collections.

Types of Donations that are Generally Considered Inappropriate

  • Materials that are not in good physical condition, e.g., contain mold or mildew, tears, stains, water damage or are in any way impaired in a manner that results in limited or restricted use. These are potentially harmful to existing collections.
  • Large museum type artifacts. Such items cannot be accommodated by the Libraries.
  • Materials that require significant restoration or conservation or unique storage, unless accompanied by appropriate funding.
  • Gifts on which a donor places restrictions that will negatively affect access to and use of the materials.
  • Textbooks.
  • Popular trade paperbacks.
  • Single issues of periodicals or broken runs of bound periodicals, unless they fill gaps in our current collection.
  • Outdated, superseded titles.
  • Outdated media formats such as LPs, cassettes, etc.
  • Materials which duplicate current holdings.
  • Photo copies/facsimiles of original materials.

II. Process for Accepting Gifts

  1. The University Librarian ensures adherence to George Mason University’s policy on accepting gifts-in-kind. Only the University Librarian or the Associate University Librarian for Resources & Collection Management Services can authorize acceptance of collections on behalf of the University Libraries.
  2. Donors will provide a title list and description of any gift before it can be considered. In the absence of such documentation, the Libraries may require on-site evaluation of the collection by subject area specialist or other library staff before a determination to accept can be made. These expert individuals will evaluate potential gifts for appropriateness to the collections.
  3. Gifts delivered without prior arrangement or contact with the Libraries’ acquisitions and gifts staff or staff listed above will not be accepted or acknowledged.
  4. Potential donors of materials should contact the University Libraries' Collections Strategy department.

III. Disposition of Gift Materials

  1. With the exception of some archival materials, all gifts added to the collection will be cataloged and listed in the Libraries’ online public catalog. Archival materials are principally accessible through electronic finding aids as published by the University Libraries.
  2. Since all gift materials that are added to the general collections are shelved in the appropriate subject classification, the Library cannot maintain separate named collections, unless by prior agreement by authority of the University Librarian, though appropriate donor recognition language may be placed within the online catalog record in certain instances.
  3. Gifts that are not added to the collection may be disposed of in one of the following ways:
  • If of artefactual value, they may be sold to a specialty book dealer, a general used book dealer, or donated to charitable organizations focusing on book donations, and the proceeds used to support future acquisitions for the University Libraries’ research collections.
  • All other unaccessioned gifts may be sold through the University Libraries periodic book sales or may be recycled. Proceeds from book sales may be used to support future library activities or acquisitions for the University Libraries’ research collections.
  • Only in special circumstances, and if arranged in advance, may items be returned to donor.

IV. Donor Information

Under current tax law for gifts over $500 but less than $5,000, donors must file a completed IRS Form 8283 which must be signed by the George Mason University Foundation. Gifts exceeding $5,000 require a formal appraisal, which must be secured by the donor, to accompany filing IRS Form 8283. The value of the gift should be determined by the donor prior to transfer to the Libraries. If possible, a copy of the appraisal should also be submitted to the Libraries.

For gifts under $500, in order for the Libraries to accept the gift, donors must complete a form stating the value of the donated materials is under $500.

Should the Libraries decide to sell a donated item valued over $500 within three years of receipt, the University must file IRS Form 8282 which discloses the actual proceeds from the sale of the gift and restates the gift value indicated by the donor on form 8283. The IRS uses this to determine if the gift value claimed by the donor was reasonable

IRS law prohibits librarians and staff from appraising materials or the Libraries paying for or arranging for appraisals. Pertinent information is available in IRS Publication No. 561 “Determining the Value of Donated Property”. Because tax laws change frequently, it is advisable that donors seek professional tax or estate counsel prior to making a gift.

Donors who offer materials or collections that the George Mason University Libraries cannot accept may be referred to other libraries or charitable book donation programs.

Financial support is crucial for our collections and services; it enables us to preserve and thoroughly catalog the materials we collect, making them accessible to users, and helps us better meet the needs of researchers.  Although such gifts are never a requirement for the acceptance of a collection, donors who are able to assist the library by making contributions toward the cataloging and conservation of their papers would be providing much needed assistance and are encouraged to do so.

For more information, please contact:

Helen McManus, Head, Collections Strategy
University Libraries
George Mason University
4400 University Drive, MS 2FL
Fairfax, Virginia 22030
703-993-2263 (fax)