Gift & Exchange

Donation Policy

The University Library System (ULS) has greatly benefited from generous donations of books, journals and other research materials.  With a collection of nearly 7.5 million print volumes, nearly 1.5 million electronic volumes, and access to millions of additional items through established subscription packages and borrowing agreements, the ULS provides services and a collection that places it within the top 30 major research libraries in North America.  Our search statistics of books and journals offered for donation show that the ULS holds more than 80% of the titles.  For these reasons, the policy of the ULS is to accept only those books that are not currently owned and that conform to current collection needs. Please consult the list of items that we cannot accept, below. We highly encourage you to provide a list of items in your collection that you believe are unique to our holdings and otherwise meet the criteria. Please note that University Library System subject specialists make the determination of whether to accept all or part of a proposed donation. You can find a listing of our subject specialists here. Depending upon the size of the donation, some specialists prefer to look at a collection prior to donation, so we may need to make arrangements to view your collection in situ before accepting it.Unapproved drop-offs cannot be accepted.   

What types of items will you accept, and are there items that you are especially interested in?

Since the ULS is a large research library we are particularly interested in unique and rare scholarly material. We are interested in small press publications, and material in a variety of foreign languages. We have several specialized collections including, but not limited to: Latin American, East Asian, and Slavic, Early American textbooks, children's literature, the Curtis Theatre Collection, Stark Media Services (film & audio recordings) and others. We are also interested in difficult-to-collect materials such as items published by non-governmental organizations.  If you have any questions about the type of material we can or cannot accept, please contact the Gift & Exchange Department.  The department will be able to suggest several alternate ways to donate materials.   

Are there any items that you will not accept?

Regrettably, due to space restriction, the lack of staff resources, and a very high rate of overlap between donations and our current holdings we cannot accept the following items:

  1. Heavily damaged, annotated, and/or moldy books
  2. With certain exceptions, such as early 20th century imprints, commercially published English language monographs
  3. Photocopies of books, journal articles or reprints of journal articles
  4. Duplicate University of Pittsburgh dissertations
  5. Back runs of journals
  6. Reader's Digest or other condensed books
  7. Cliffs Notes or other book summaries

What happens to the material that I donate?

Items donated to the ULS are reviewed by subject specialists. Items that the specialists wish to add to the collection and which are not duplicates are cataloged. If donated material is determined to be outside the scope of our collection or is a duplicate of what we already own it is often used for exchange. In some cases, duplicates may also be used to replace missing or damaged copies. Other unwanted material may be sold to raise money to purchase new books or sent to other organizations such as Better World Books or otherwise discarded. For more information, visit our exchange program page.

Will you send me an acknowledgment of my gift?

To be sure that you receive an acknowledgment letter, please complete the Donor Information Form and enclose it with your donation. After we receive and count the material that you have donated, you will receive an acknowledgment letter and copy of the Donor Information Form.

Can you appraise my donation?

No. Due to IRS regulations, University of Pittsburgh staff are not permitted to appraise donations to the ULS.  If a donor wishes to have his/her material appraised, it is the donor's responsibility to make arrangements with an appraiser and to pay for the appraisal.

How do I get my donation to you?

The subject specialist for the types of materials you wish to donate can help you with this. We ask that you make an appointment well in advance of your drop-off date so that we can discuss transfer options with you.

Once I donate material, can it be returned to me if you do not add it to your collection?

No. The University Library System, upon receipt of the gift material becomes the owner of the material.

How do I donate items to the ULS?

Ready to donate? Access the Donor Information Form