Policy on Gifts of Materials

Last Revised July 25, 2013

1. The New York Public Library relies on the generosity of its donors to build its research and special collections. If you have historically significant manuscripts, photographs, books, archival materials or other items that you believe would enhance the Library’s research and special collections, please contact one of the Library’s curators or, for general inquiries, please contact gifts@nypl.org. Information about the Library’s research collections can be found through the following links:

2. Please note that, due to space constraints and limited processing resources, the Library is unable to accept all materials offered to us. Donors who have books that are in good condition that they think would be appropriate for the Library’s circulating collections should contact their local branch. The Library reserves the right to dispose of unsolicited materials in any manner it deems appropriate.

3. Gifts of materials that are accepted by the Library become the absolute and unconditional property of the Library and cannot be returned to the donor for any reason. Once the Library takes possession of an item, the Library is free to make all decisions in accordance with its established policies and procedures with respect to the retention, storage, processing, use, and disposition of that item. In accordance with the Library's standard policies, Donors are granted the same right to access and use materials they have donated as other members of the public (i.e., materials may be accessed after they have been processed, during normal business hours, and in accordance with the Library's then-current rules and regulations). Please note that it is the Library’s policy not to accept materials “on deposit.”

4. In general, the Library asks donors of materials for which the donors own the copyright to transfer the copyright to the Library so that the Library may make broad use of the materials in question. In cases where the copyright is not transferred to the Library, it is understood that the Library may in its sole discretion and without further approval of the donor: (i) make copies of or otherwise reproduce any or all of the materials for preservation and reference purposes; (ii) make copies of the materials for research, educational, and editorial uses by third parties (any fees charged by the Library for this service are used to offset the Library’s related costs); (iii) display and exhibit (and permit others to display and exhibit) and make copies of the materials for exhibition purposes or other related purposes, including exhibition catalogues, promotional materials (including posters), and informational materials about the Library; and (iv) post digitized versions of the materials on the Library’s website.

Tax Considerations

A. All prospective donors are encouraged to consult with their legal, tax and/or financial advisers before making a gift to NYPL. The tax deductibility of gifts can be a complex issue, and the Library is not in a position to advise potential donors with respect to such matters.

B. The Library provides donors of property valued at $250 or more with a written acknowledgment of the receipt of such property. The Library is not able to confirm the value of the property that has been donated.

C. Any donations of items valued at over $5,000 for which donors intend to claim a deduction will need to be appraised by a “Qualified Appraiser”. The Library does not pay for such appraisals and is not responsible for reviewing or authenticating the validity of such appraisals. Donors should refer to Publication 561 [“Determining the Value of Donated Property” (available here http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p561.pdf )] to learn more about what kinds of appraisals are accepted by the IRS for tax purposes. All appraisals should be completed before the donor transfers the property to the Library.

D. In the event that the donor expects the Library to sign any forms related to the tax-deductibility of a donation of property (e.g., a form 8283), all such forms must be presented to the Library at the time that the materials are given to the Library Forms presented to the Library after this point in time cannot be signed by the Library.

E. It is the Library's understanding that:

  • in cases where a donor has created the materials which are being given to the Library, the amount of the charitable deduction that may be claimed generally would be limited to the donor’s basis, or cost, of raw materials used (see Internal Revenue Code Section 1221), and
  • to the extent a donor retains copyright in materials being transferred to NYPL (whether or not the materials were created by the donor), no charitable deduction may be claimed for such materials (see Internal Revenue Code Section 170(f)(3)).