Collecting Policy 

It is the mission of the New School Archives and Special Collections (the Archives) to promote knowledge and understanding of The New School by collecting, preserving, contextualizing, and making publicly accessible a rich array of records that document the histories of The New School and its communities of students, faculty, alumni, and staff. In this effort, the Archives aims to document university leadership, administrative processes, policy making, academic programs, and faculty and student work. Crucially, the Archives seeks out the voices and perspectives of underrepresented members of the university community, including students, administrators, faculty, and groups that may hold opposing or dissenting views from the administration.

In addition to documenting New School history, the Archives collects primary source records that enrich the scholarly, applied practices, and creative pursuits of the New School community.

The Archives approaches its collecting thoughtfully, flexibly, and revisits its policies regularly, periodically identifying new areas of collecting focus (e.g., underrepresented schools) and initiating projects that produce new records (e.g., oral histories) to fill in gaps in the available record of institutional activity and its impact.

For definitions of terms referred to in The New School Archives collecting policy, please consult the Society of American Archivists’ Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology.

Academic and Institutional Records 

The New School Archives and Special Collections appraises, collects, arranges, describes, makes accessible, and preserves in perpetuity records created by communities, departments, and individuals across The New School.

The collecting goal for academic and institutional records is to capture detailed snapshots of important university activity as the school evolves over time. The Archives continually adjusts and balances its collecting focus as part of its effort to ensure that under-documented schools and communities are reflected in the historical record.

Appraisal to determine records’ long-term value incorporates a matrix of criteria. While value judgements are inherently subjective, the staff of the Archives attempts to be aware of their biases and counteract them with input from diverse stakeholders. The Archives consults with offices and material/content creators to evaluate the role that the material under consideration may play in providing an understanding of the overall activity of the university. Important decision factors include:  

  • Singularity of material and of perspective.

  • Significance to the current university community.

  • Projected future value for understanding New School history.

The following collecting areas delineate general categories of consideration for the Archives. These categories may shift and should not be construed as a comprehensive delimitation of the extent of the Archives’ collecting areas. 

Student Work

The Archives strives to collect representative student work from across the university. Policies for acquiring student work are contingent upon student consent and students retain intellectual control, including copyright and intellectual property rights, over their work. Examples of records the Archives may collect from students, in both analog and digital form, include:

  • Art and design projects 

  • Text and multimedia theses

  • Class-produced assignments, including websites and social media

  • Documentation about field projects

  • Recordings of performances and presentations

Administration

Records from executive and administrative offices that document governance and leadership positions at The New School, as well as records that shed light on the day-to-day activities of administrative departments. Constituents may include the Board of Trustees, president, provost, executive and school deans, institutional research, marketing, and student enrollment and success offices. Examples of documentation that the Archives may collect from these units include:

  • Annual reports

  • Accreditation documentation

  • Strategic plans and initiatives

  • Internal and external studies and surveys

  • Policies

  • Presentations and speeches

  • Correspondence and key communications

  • Event recordings and documentation

Faculty and Staff

Records from selected faculty, staff, and associates who have made a significant contribution to the university. The Archives periodically also accepts the personal papers of faculty, with consideration given to the duration of employment at The New School. Examples of documentation the Archives may collect in this category relate to:

  • Course planning and teaching

  • Conference proceedings 

  • Grant projects

  • Administrative and committee work

  • Scholarly and artistic practice

  • Social engagement

Departmental Units

Records from university departments, including centers, academic departments, and core administrative offices. Examples of documentation from these units relate to:

  • Syllabi and course data

  • Curriculum development

  • Building and space planning

  • Faculty affairs and policies

  • Commencement and key events

  • Recruitment and retention

  • Strategic planning and crisis management

Student Life

Formal and informal records documenting campus activity. Examples of documentation the Archives may collect in this category relate to:

  • Governance and advisory committee work

  • Organizations and activities

  • Activism and community service

Personal and Subject-Specific Papers

In addition to documenting New School history, the Archives acquires primary source records that reflect the lives and work of selected faculty and alumni and periodically adds primary source collections to its holdings that enrich the scholarly, applied practices, and creative pursuits of the New School community.

A Note on Sustainable Digital Growth

As the Archives’ digital preservation initiative becomes more widely known to the university community, the Archives anticipates that it may face competing demands to accommodate perceived needs for long-term digital preservation. While this pressure is expected, the sustainability of the Archives' preservation service is dependent upon an ongoing analysis of costs in relation to the benefits that the service is capable of realizing. To that end, the Archives is committed to continually weighing and recalibrating its appraisal criteria and collecting policies. Priority for selection depends upon factors that include existing and projected costs, and available resources. 

The Archives has identified three additional factors that impact digital sustainability practices:   

Technical

As the use-value of digital assets becomes further defined, the policies and processes for preservation may be adjusted to allow for additional compression, format migration, or reduced backup. In the near-term, implementing a new repository management system will allow for closer analysis of current digital assets to identify where these efficiencies may be applied. The Archives is also committed to scalable digitization processes by tailoring technical specifications to the type of asset. 

Environmental

The Archives considers the environmental impact of uncontrolled data creation to be a critical factor in digital preservation efforts. Through adjustable processes for intellectual and technical curation, the Archives is able to support the ongoing organization and distillation of university data, reducing redundancy and purging lesser-value assets, resulting in honed collections of archival assets with increased value for the community. 

Cultural

Support from university leadership enables the Archives to cultivate stakeholder relationships across the community. These relationships facilitate informed transfers to the Archives and establish the framework by which long-term value may be evaluated.