Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Archives, digital surrogates, digital donations, scan and return, donor relations, best practices, special collections


Special collections librarians at small or medium sized institutions may lack the resources required to build new collecting areas or further enrich the collecting areas mandated by their mission. As one measure to overcome this challenge at Pepperdine University, we are experimenting with an approach that we call “digital surrogate” donations. In these cases, we work with donors to create digital surrogates—typically scans of images or texts—of select physical materials with which donors are not quite ready to part. Per a modified donor agreement, the digital surrogate collections are then made available to researchers through our digital archive and open access digital collections. This technique has proved successful in expanding both our Malibu history and film and television collecting areas, as these digital surrogates serve to attract other (physical) donations to our archives. We also see this as a step in building donor relations as we make explicit the hope that the donor will eventually give us the physical originals as well. This Pecha Kucha talk will demonstrate these benefits, but also address the risks and unknowns inherent to digital surrogate projects. For example, what intellectual property issues are raised when rights to an object in its digital form are separated from rights to an object in its physical form? How do we as an institution monitor the chain of custody of a digital surrogate collection’s original, physical source? And ultimately as research continually shifts to an online environment, will the benefits of digital surrogate collections outweigh any threats they pose to the orthodoxy of archives and manuscripts best practices? * Note: script of talk is included in the Notes section of each slide.

Publication Title

Rare Book and Manuscript Section (ACRL) Annual Meeting