Gifts of Distinctive Collections

Information For Prospective Donor

Thank you for considering entrusting donation of your distinctive collection to the University of Miami Libraries. The Libraries welcome and actively solicit the gift of distinctive materials that fit within the broad collecting profiles of the departments of Special Collections and Cuban Heritage Collection.

There are many factors to consider when preparing to make a donation of library material. This document outlines the factors. Please review this document in advance of your conversation with the head of each distinctive collection unit. Every gift has unique aspects. Although this document does not address every situation, familiarity with this information will facilitate an expeditious and successful donation.

Four Factors

  1. Appropriateness. The UM Libraries seek material reflects distinctiveness in terms of the rarity, uniqueness, historical import, or creative aspects of the works. The genres typically collected include rare books, personal papers, photographs, rare maps, and audiovisual files. Determining whether the gift is appropriate for the UM Libraries is the crucial first step in the process.

    To determine the appropriateness of the material, please contact either the head of Special Collections, Cristina Favretto, or chair of the Cuban Heritage Collection, Elizabeth Cerejido.

  2. Value. Once the material is determined to be appropriate, the value of the collection should be assessed. By ‘value,’ we are speaking in a very narrow sense – the valuation that is typically assessed by an appropriately certified professional appraiser. The University of Miami tracks the value of its distinctive collections as capital assets and for insurance purposes. In addition, if you as the donor wish to treat the collection gift as a charitable donation for tax purposes, certain steps are required by IRS regulations.
    • If the value of the collection exceeds $4999, an appraisal must be conducted by the donor prior to gifting the collection. In order to comply with IRS and University requirements, the appraisal must be commissioned and paid for by the donor. The Libraries cannot recommend a specific appraiser to use, but we can supply you with a list of appraisers with whom our past donors have worked. Once the appraisal has been conducted, the appraisal must be submitted along with supporting documentation prepared by Libraries’ staff for review by the University Gift committee – this review typically takes two weeks to complete.
    • If the value of the collection is less than $5000, an appraisal is not required. The appropriate program head will assess the value and provide documentation to that effect. No further review is required.

    To determine the value of the material, and gain help with determining issues related to IRS documentation, please contact Cynthia Beamish, Associate VP, Development.

  3. Goals. Most donors are seeking to ensure that their distinctive collection is preserved for future generations of students, scholars and the public. Some donors are hoping to ensure that their collection will be made available for researchers within a very short period of time. Some are hoping that events, exhibits, digital portals or publications will be developed around the Collection. It is helpful to think about what you are hoping to achieve prior to exploring your gift with Libraries’ staff. There are costs associated with priority processing, events, exhibits, digitization and publications, and it is important that the source of funds to support these costs be addressed in the Deed of Gift.
  4. Cash Gift. The Libraries are thrilled with your consideration of a collection donation. The gift of a distinctive collection to the Libraries will provide high-level preservation and access for current and future generations of scholars, students and members of the public. There is a cost for preserving, cataloging and making these collections available. The Libraries commit to our donors that we will attempt to provide basic processing as soon as possible within our budget constraints, and we routinely fundraise and apply for grants to support these functions. As a rule, a cash gift equivalent to 10% of the value of the collection can help to offset the costs of preservation, cataloging and access for the material, ensuring priority processing for the gift. A larger gift can assist with the costs of any desired digitization, exhibition or publication-related aspects of the gift.

    To discuss your hopes for the collection gift, and discuss options for a cash gift, please work with either the head of Special Collections, Cristina Favretto, or chair of the Cuban Heritage Collection, Elizabeth Cerejido.

Next Steps

As you consider the four factors above, please feel free to contact the relevant personnel using the contact information supplied below. If you decide to move forward with the donation, the gift will be formalized in the form of a deed of gift. The deed of gift will reference any special terms or conditions. A sample deed of gift is available upon request.


  • Cristina Favretto, Special Collections | tel: (305) 284-3247 | email:
  • Elizabeth Cerejido, Cuban Heritage Collection | tel: (305) 284-4900 | email:
  • Cynthia Beamish, Associate VP, Development | tel: (305) 284-4342 | email:
  • Lisa Fish, Associate Dean for Collection Strategies | tel: (305)284-4049 | email:
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