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Documenting Student Life at Cal Poly Pomona

More About Special Collections and Archives

How Is a Collection Processed?  More About the Special Collections and Archives


Student researcher looking at archival photos in the W.K. Kellogg Arabian Horse library


          The Special Collections and Archives collects, organizes, preserves, and makes available the rare books and archival collections of California Polytechnic University, Pomona.  These collections center around themes relevant to the mission of the university and consist of rare and unique books and documents that are available for use by students, faculty, staff, alum, and scholars.  These historic materials support research and teaching at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona and promote our institution's unique heritage. 


          The Special Collections and Archives staff identify and acquire essential documentation about the institution and its activities, as well as other archival materials that enhance and complement the collection, such as as holdings related to Student Life at the university.  The Special Collections and Archives staff work to organize and describe the materials in a way that increases their accessibility to all users.  We provide a proper preservation environment for historic materials to ensure their usability for generations to come.  In addition, we ensure that these materials are made available to administrative units, faculty, alumni, and researchers by providing research assistance to all users.  The Special Collections and Archives promotes awareness of the significance of the materials through events, exhibits, and programming. 


          The Special Collections and Archives collects materials which document the history of the University, materials that document the history of Southern California (with a specific focus on the Pomona Valley), materials that document the Southern California Wine Industry, and materials that document the Arabian Horse.  Other collecting areas are considered on a case-by-case basis.  All types of formats are collected by the Archives.  Textual materials, such as correspondence, diaries, reports, newspaper articles, books, and manuscripts, as well as audio-visual materials and electronic records, such as photographs, maps, drawings, audio recordings, film, CDs, digital images, and born digital files can be found within the Archives.


          In order to add a collection to the Special Collections and Archives at the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, the first step is always appraisal, and this is when the Special Collections and Archives staff decide if a collection belongs within the Archives.  Materials are often selected based on uniqueness, if we have enough room, and of course, relevance.  If we decide that a collection is relevant, then we begin the acquisition process.  At this time, the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona assumes legal and physical control over the collection.  Next, comes the accession process.  This is when we note important information such as, the creator of the collection, the quantity and size of the collection, the condition of the collection and if it requires any type of preservation treatment, the location of the collection and where the collection will be stored, and any restrictions on the collection.  We also list the contents of the collection, with a brief description.  Then, the collection is processed, which includes the following steps: preliminary research, surveying the collection, writing a processing plan for the collection, and deciding on the levels of processing for the collection.  Collections may be processed on item, folder, and box levels. 


          The Special Collections and Archives staff decide on the physical arrangement of the collection and begin the re-housing process.  All materials are housed in acid-free folders and containers to minimize damage.  It is at this time that we may take any basic preservation measures, such as removing fasteners and sticky notes which can harm materials and checking for mold and insects.  We then create a finding aid for the collection.  A finding aid is basically an inventory of collection box.  This is also a description tool that includes information like the scope, contents, and significance of a collection.  The finding aid is written to help the researcher understand and navigate the collection.  

To learn more about the Special Collections and Archives at the California Polytechnic University, Pomona, please visit our website, or contact Katie Richardson, Head of Special Collections and Archives, 909-869-3109 or, or Alexis Adkins, Archivist for Special Collections and Archives, 909-869-2092 or