In the past, I have donated personal items to two museums, both of which had procedures in place for deciding to accept the items and preparing the proper paperwork. This week I donated items to a college and worked through an office that didn't have a deed of gift form. (The archives might have such a form, but that was not the office I was working with.) This became an interesting experience for me in several areas.
First, I was able to write a deed of gift form for my items that I believe will serve the institution well both now and in the future. This was my chance to do what I write and talk about!
Second, I used the deed of gift form to explain to my contact the important sections of the form and why they are important. In other words, this gift became an informal learning experience for that office. Yes, they have received other gifts before, and at least one other deed of gift, but this time they saw why the form is important and how it will help them and the college.
Third, although I had given all rights to the college, I thought it appropriate (and helpful) to talk about how I hoped the materials would be handled and used. It was a quick -- non-threatening -- lesson in conservation and preservation. This was perhaps the most important thing I did (besides giving the gift) because it lead to discussing other gifts that had been received, proper lighting, storage, etc.
As I write this, I am happy with the gift I have given this college and the history I have entrusted with them. In addition, I am happy that I have opened the eyes of one office to realize that the treasures they have need to be protected. I hope that I've shown the need for them to work more closely with their archivist. So I gifted them with new information of the school's history and information that will help them preserve their history. Not bad!
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