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Special Collections Development Policy

Policy Information

Issuing Office

Jerry Falwell Library

Affected Parties

University faculty, staff, students, and guest users

Policy Language

The special collections policy establishes the framework for governing the collection development, organization, preservation, access, and promotion of the Library’s special collections.

Policy Rationale

The special collections unit of the Jerry Falwell Library seeks to acquire, organize, preserve, provide access to, and promote primary resource materials in their original formats on select topics in support of the research, teaching, and learning mission of the University. The library also seeks to contribute to the preservation of Christian culture by functioning as a library of record for certain Christian literature and scholarship. Current collection areas are referenced. These materials require handling above that expended on typical library acquisitions.

Definition of Glossary Terms

None specified

Procedural Information


1. Collection Development 

1.1. Collecting Areas.

1.1.1. Christian Fiction. Whereas the secular world does not have a vested interest to preserve the popular work of Christian fiction authors, the Jerry Falwell Library seeks to function as a library of record with comprehensive holdings for select authors whose works may serve as a representative cross-section of the genre for study by future generations. Authors will be included based on meritorious recognition such as offered by the Christy Award; unique theme such as Christian suspense, spiritual warfare, etc.; special audiences such as young readers; affiliation with Thomas Road Baptist Church, and/or Liberty University such as being an alum, an employee, or a Board of Trustees member; and pioneering significance or best-selling popularity. An initial list of authors includes the following: Lynn Austin, Terri Blackstock, Stephen Bly, T. Davis Bunn, Jack Cavanaugh, Anne deGraaf, Ted Dekker, Alton Gansky, Dee Henderson, Liz Curtis Higgs, Grace Livingston Hill, Paul Hutchens, Angela Elwell Hunt, Jerry Jenkins, Jan Karon, Karen Kingsbury, Tim LaHaye, Stephen Lawhead, Beverly Lewis, George MacDonald, Paul McCusker, Bill Myers, Jeanette Oke, Judith Pella, Frank Peretti, Michael Phillips, Francine Rivers, Joel C. Rosenberg, Charles Sheldon, Lauraine Snelling, and Bodie & Brock Thoene.

1.1.2. Kenny Rowlette, founding director of the National Civil War Chaplain’s Museum, collected and donated the materials for this collection. This special collection covers topics such as religion during the mid-nineteenth-century America; the Civil War seen as a religious conflict; the roles of Catholic, Jewish, and Protestant chaplains during the Civil War; and the influence of religion upon the lives of Confederate and Union soldiers during the war. The collection includes over 1,700 items in various formats, including books, magazines, DVDs, and CDs.

1.1.3 Hymnals. A core collection of hymnals was bought from Jim Lutzweiler.  The collection focuses on Christian Hymnals, but also includes volumes on musical instruction and general historical music scores. It includes over 1900 items mostly in book format with a few magazines.

1.1.4 Sunday School History. Dr. Elmer Towns donated a number of materials relating to the history of the Sunday school movement. Materials include books, framed materials, realia and photographs.

1.1.5 Local History. As Liberty University is a part of the local community, the library collects materials on local history.

1.1.6 The Herbert A. Philbrick Library. Jerry Falwell Library’s Herbert Philbrick Collection represents Mr. Philbrick’s reading interests on wide variety of topics--some topical and others philosophical—and which give valuable insight into his personality. This collection is collection is also important because of Mr. Philbrick’s transition from  a neophyte Communist to undercover spy for the FBI, a changeover which is made easier to understand by the old adage that “we are what we read.”  Thus to understand his personal shift to conservatism this collection is maintained as a unit.

1.2. Methods. Methods used to acquire special collections materials include donation, transfer, and purchase. Whenever possible and appropriate, Collection Management personnel will coordinate receipt of materials, including the issuing of a gift acknowledgement form, whereby full ownership is granted to the library. In atypical instances, the library administration will work with the university’s legal counsel to facilitate receipt of materials. The Archivist may also solicit and facilitate the receipt of donated materials. Externally, the library will solicit deaccessioned Christian fiction publications in good condition from ACL member institutions. From within the library’s own collections, the following criteria will govern the transfer of materials in the aforementioned collecting areas into the special collections: Criteria: 1) acquired more than two years ago AND 2) no circulation within the previous two years. Actual or perceived scarcity of an item may result in its purchase on the open book market.

2. Organization. Special collections materials will be made discoverable in the Jerry Falwell Library catalog. Cataloging of special collections will be performed by dedicated staff familiar with the unique nature of these materials. This includes assigning a special collections location code (distinct from the Archives collection code). Where necessary, archival finding aids will be created to facilitate discovery. In addition, digital manifestations of works in the special collections will be created where permissible and desired.

3. Preservation. Physical processing of special collections materials will follow those standards and procedures established by the Archives. In addition, special collections materials will be non-circulating and will be stored in the climate-controlled ASRS in dedicated, restricted bins. This also serves to collocate materials in mixed formats.


4. Access. The established Archives use policies will govern the use of special collections materials.

5. Promotion. Rotating physical and virtual displays will be created to highlight special collections materials, especially for use in research, teaching, and learning, and will be marketed via the Internet and social media.

6. Specific Collections.

6.1. Liberty University Archives. The Liberty University Archives preserves the history of Liberty University, Thomas Road Baptist Church, Jerry Falwell ministries, and Baptist traditions in general. This is done by gathering records of enduring value, organizing, and preserving these research materials by employing appropriate and adequate methods and technologies, and making them available to scholars and other interested parties via either traditional or electronic access options as the material formats allow.

Archives will acquire material from and about the following entities: Liberty University, Thomas Road Baptist Church, Jerry Falwell Ministries, the Moral Majority and the Old-Time Gospel Hour. Archives will acquire unpublished documents and records, books, pamphlets, periodicals, newspapers, maps, posters, photographs, audiotapes, video tapes, film, other media, digital materials, memorabilia, and other printed materials.

Archives will collect additional materials with the following foci: organizations and individuals who had close connections with any of the above mentioned entities; leading figures who played an important or prominent role in the above mentioned entities; histories, themes, and impacts of Baptist traditions in the United States. Materials may be added by gift, bequest, purchase, or any other transaction by which title passes to archives. Final decisions about which materials will be added to the collections are to be made by the Archivist in accordance with standard archival appraising guidelines. It is the responsibility of the donors to ensure that archives has their current contact information in case of withdrawals or researcher requests for exceptions to restrictions. In order to maintain and improve on the quality of the collection, materials may be deaccessioned at any time due to irrelevance, lack of space, duplication, irreparable condition, or transfer to another archival institution. Any deaccessioning of materials must be approved by the Archivist. If materials are deaccessioned, archives will first attempt to contact the original donors and return the materials to them before the materials are disposed of in other ways, unless the owners have indicated that they do not want the materials back.

6.2. Curriculum Library. The Curriculum Library supports the School of Education at Liberty University by providing access to a variety of instructional resources. Offerings include textbooks and teaching materials for preschool through grade twelve as well as standardized tests. Educational games, manipulatives, and models enhance the collection. An extensive selection of juvenile titles provides reinforcement for classes in children’s literature and adolescent literature in addition to classes in curriculum development. Materials related to educational theory and research can be found in the Jerry Falwell Library.

6.3. Professional Collection. The purpose of the professional collection is to preserve library material that is valuable, rare, vulnerable to damage or theft, or in fragile condition. The library is not primarily interested in the monetary value of these materials but in the preservation of their content. These materials are housed in Archives.

6.4. Reference Collection. Reference works are housed within the circulating collection; however, because of their nature, they do not circulate. These materials are clearly marked as non-circulating.


6.5. Reserves. The library will maintain a limited access collection of materials at the request of faculty in order to ensure availability of course-related materials for students. Restrictions and guidelines are available on the library’s website


Failure to comply with policies and procedures may result in loss of access privileges.



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