Archives Policy


Archives Policy

Category: Library and Archives
Approval: Senate
Responsibility: University Librarian
Date: January 19, 2021

Purpose/Reason for Policy

Establish a policy for the acceptance, care and management of physical and digital archival materials at Trent University.


Trent University Archives is a regional archival repository. Established in 1969, it is part of Trent University Library and Archives.

Areas of Responsibility

The Archives is responsible for the care and management of University archival material received through transfer from departments and units and private manuscripts received primarily through donation. It is open to the public without charge and has two officially named spaces: Northway Reading Room, and Michael Treadwell Special Collections and Rare Books Room. The holdings in 2020 include 9406 cubic metres of textual material, 42,000 photographs, 550 reels of microfilm, 1620 sheets of microfiche, 860 maps, 1050 audio and video tapes, newspapers, drawings, audio-visual records, and digital records.

Besides responsibility for Trent’s archival holdings, the Archives is responsible for maintaining and providing access to Special Collections. Special Collections is comprised of rare or special published material; it includes a significant general collection primarily of Canadiana and several significant named collections: Robert Lloyd Hunter Collection; Ernest Thompson Seton Collection; Trent Collection, Floyd S. Chalmers Collection, Margaret Laurence Collection, Charles E. Feinberg Collection, A.J.M. Smith Collection, Holm Collection of Children’s Books, and the Canadian Camping Collection. Special Collections is guided by a policy: .

Under the general direction of the Chair, Trent Art Collection Presidential Advisory Committee (TACPAC), the Archives is also responsible for managing tasks associated with the acquisition and maintenance of works of art in the Trent University Art Collection (TUAC). The Art Collection is comprised of approximately 700 works of art located in public spaces throughout the campuses and is guided by a policy

Professional Affiliations and Adherences

The Archives is an active member of the Association of Canadian Archivists and the Archives Association of Ontario. It adheres to the principles of professional archival management: the employment of professional staff; adherence to professional practices and protocols such as RAD (Rules for Archival Description); adherence to the Copyright Act and the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA); participation in professional archival networking initiatives such as ARCHEION, ARCHIVES CANADA, and national and provincial conferences; maintenance of secure and environmentally protected premises for the preservation of the holdings; and maintenance of regular access hours for onsite researchers.

Relationships with Stakeholders

Enduring relationships exist between Trent University Archives and stakeholders – students, staff, faculty, donors, researchers and partners. The collections, received primarily through donation, are comprised of historical resources of lasting significance and constitute major University assets. Funding received through various sources - Bata Library and Archives, the Friends of the Bata Library, the Symons Trust Fund for Canadian Studies, the Academic Innovations Fund, external funding agencies such as the Canadian Council of Archives, individual donors – have supported departmental purchases and digital projects.

Policy Statement Specific to Archival Function

Trent University Archives acquires, arranges and catalogues materials to professional archival standards and makes these known through various channels: Archives Web site and Newsletter and social media platforms; class workshops and tours; and talks and publications. The Archives responds to research queries related to the holdings and provides document reproduction as appropriate.

Two-fold Mandate

The Archives has a two-fold mandate in fulfilling its function as the official archival repository for Trent University. Adhering to professional archival standards, the Archives concentrates on the following areas of focus:

  • University Records: University Records shall be taken to mean archival records - created, received and maintained, regardless of format - that give evidence of the policies, administration and history of Trent University’s academic and administrative units. Records are received through voluntary transfer from departments and units and not as part of a formalized records management program.


Examples of University Records include, but are not limited to, materials received in physical or digital format, such as the following:


  • Administrative records of University officials, faculty, departments, institutes, schools, centres of research, services, employee and student unions and associations, and other offices and positions of comparable significance
  • Agendas and minutes of meetings, and attached correspondence, reports, exhibits and appendices of Senate, Board of Governors, College Councils, all Committees, Departments and other governing bodies
  • University publications and reports
  • Records of faculty, staff, and student unions and associations
  • Private records of faculty and staff
  • Audio-visual material of Convocation ceremonies, public lecture series and significant University events
  • Photographs and building plans of University properties and activities
  • Original University endowment agreements
  • Records of Trent University units that were evaluated as being archival in nature as part of a Records Disposition Plan


  • Private Archival Records: Private Archival Records shall be taken to mean the private records of institutions, organizations and individuals that relate to the Trent Valley area, that is Peterborough County and surrounding counties, or to Trent University, or that support Trent University’s academic programs; the Archives does not seek to acquire holdings that relate to the area surrounding Trent’s Durham GTA campus as that area is served by other archival repositories.

Private Archival Records focus on Canadian history and culture primarily within the local context. In consultation with stakeholder communities, the Archives carefully considers any sensitivities deemed to be associated with records under negotiation, their handling and care, their processing and their access to researchers.

Examples of Private Archival Records include, but are not limited to, materials received in physical or digital format such as the following:

  • correspondence, daybooks, diaries, plans, ledgers, photographs and slides, audiovisual materials, historical maps

Official Responsibilities

The role of the University Archives includes:

  • negotiation and recommendations for action on offers of archival records to Trent University, including refusal to accept offers;
  • negotiation of donor agreements consigning papers to the University Archives, seeking approvals where appropriate;
  • conduct of official appraisals of new acquisitions, in accordance with University donor policies, and according to Canada Revenue Agency rules and regulations.


Operational Responsibilities

The Archives ensures the ongoing care of the holdings into perpetuity and follows standard archival preservation methods to achieve this. While most records are open for research, some limitations apply due to donor-imposed restrictions, government legislation, the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Copyright Act; these factor into the Archives’ ability to provide access to, or copies of, holdings upon request.

The Archives nurtures partnerships with other Library departments and academic and administrative units, with institutions such as Fleming College, Peterborough Museum and Archives and Peterborough Historical Society, and with archival repositories across Canada. It explores ventures that open the door to new audiences and inspire new possibilities for research.

The Archives contributes to the larger profession through participation in archival conferences and historical society events, and through filling membership positions on local-area heritage boards and committees. It lends support to Trent administrators by responding to time-sensitive requests for information.

The Archives maintains oversight of Special Collections and Rare Books and provides supervised access to these holdings in the Archives Reading Room.

The Archives supports the Trent University Art Collection through a Library-funded one-day per week Archives Associate position and through the maintenance of a dedicated Art office.

The Archives welcomes future participation in any discussions regarding Records Management at Trent University, if participation is requested.

In administering its responsibilities, Archives personnel:

  • Maintain administrative and intellectual control of the holdings
  • Negotiate offers of private manuscripts following policy guidelines and respecting the acquisition interests of other archival repositories
  • Conduct or arrange for fair market value appraisals of records in accordance with Canada Revenue Agency rules and regulations
  • Facilitate the transfer of archival records from University units
  • Arrange and describe new archival records in accordance with standard professional archival practice
  • Create access tools and online finding aids to facilitate access
  • House records according to approved professional preservation standards, ensuring safe and secure physical and electronic environments
  • Participate in the Archives Association of Ontario’s Archival Information Network (ARCHEION) and Provincial Acquisitions Strategy, submitting database records of newly acquired private manuscripts for extended public awareness
  • Provide efficient, reliable and equitable archival reference expertise to members of the University and the external community; facilitate access while complying with relevant legislation and deposit agreements
  • Host archival workshops and classes in collaboration with Trent University faculty and in response to requests from visiting external groups, where appropriate and feasible
  • Explore and participate in joint projects that support new research initiatives and extend access; partnerships may include other Library departments; Trent faculty, staff and students; the external professional community; and researchers at large
  • In collaboration with Library partners, explore and participate in scholarly digitization projects that extend use of the archival funds
  • Ensure an inclusive, accessible, safe, equitable, and professional environment governed by applicable codes of ethics and legislated standards
  • Ensure that proceeds resulting from the liquidation of holdings are reinvested in support of the Archives and Special Collections.


The Archives maintains core operations within Bata Library in a space equipped to meet the environmental needs of the holdings. The space includes the Northway Reading Room, the Manuscript Room, the Archives Work Room, and the Michael Treadwell Special Collections and Rare Books Room. Two additional rooms – located in Champlain College and the Science Complex - temporarily address the expanded needs of the collection but do not meet the preservation requirements for long-term storage.

The Archives also maintains an art office in support of the Trent University Art Collection.

Contact Officer: University Librarian

Date for Next Review: 2025-2026

Policies Superseded by This Policy:

  • Trent University Archives policy statement, 1981