Local history and archives collection development


The purpose of the Mercer Public Library Local History and Archives Collection (“Archives”) is to preserve information relevant to the history of Mercer and the Iron County, Wisconsin, area. Materials are collected to illustrate the development of Mercer and Iron County, its natural and man-made environment, and its culture. The Archives shall include a focus on important industries in the Mercer area including lumber, mining, and tourism, and shall strive to collect records from influential events and the people who lived, worked, and had an impact on the area.

Such records may include, but not be limited to: photographs, newspapers, family histories, public records, manuscripts, business records, maps, minutes, books, audio and visual recordings, and personal papers. The Archives will collect materials that illustrate life in Mercer and Iron County from all time periods, including the current era. Select materials on the history of Wisconsin, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and other areas may be considered for inclusion when such materials are deemed to provide further insight into the development of Mercer and the Iron County area.


The goals of the Archives are:

  • To provide appropriate conditions for storage and access to archival materials;
  • To provide reference services to individuals and organizations interested in the history of Mercer and the Iron County area; and
  • To facilitate public awareness of the Mercer area and its residents.
  • To educate and inspire a greater sense of history.

Materials in the Archives are arranged, described, and made available to the public through physical access and digital collections as appropriate based on the condition, age, copyright issues, or written agreements with the donor.

The presence of materials in the Archives does not indicate an endorsement of their content or views by the Mercer Library Board of Trustees, library staff, or Town of Mercer.


Materials selected for inclusion in the Archives must be relevant to the mission of the Archives; must be in a usable condition that does not pose a risk of harm to Archives staff, volunteers, patrons or other collection materials; must not duplicate items already in the Archives; and must be of a size consistent with the Archives’ capacity. When selecting materials for inclusion, Archives staff may consider the resources required to retain the records, the records’ relationship to other records in the Archives, the availability of suitable storage facilities, and any rights or restrictions placed by the donor.

The focus of collections in the Archive shall be on textual records, photographs and other visual records, maps, plans and architectural records, sound and visual recordings, and digital materials. Three-dimensional items may only be considered for collection in the case where such items are unique examples of important aspects of local history. Photographic images of three-dimensional items may be kept for the Archives’ digital and print collections as appropriate.

The Archives will acquire materials by donation, bequest, purchase, or transfer. All acquisitions shall be recorded with a Statement of Gift, Memorandum of Understanding, or Loan Agreement. (See Appendix M.) Purchase will only be considered if the materials fill a critical gap in the collection as determined by the Library Director. The Archives will only accept materials on a permanent basis except when borrowing materials for short-term loans to reproduce or to include in displays or exhibits, or when establishing cooperative agreements with other organizations. (See Cooperative Agreements, below.)

The Archives retains the right to reproduce materials by mechanical, electronic, or photographic means for security, conservation, or research purposes.

Mercer Public Library and Archives staff are unable to provide financial appraisal of any archival records or artifacts, including those donated to the Archives. Donors may obtain an independent appraisal for tax purposes.


Materials added to the Archives shall be held until such time that they are deemed to no longer fulfill the Acquisitions policy. Reappraisal and deaccessioning is an important part of archival practice and shall be conducted in a transparent manner, with full documentation retained in the Archives’ records.

Archives staff shall use professional judgment when reappraising collections and shall take into consideration donor agreements, ethical issues regarding the disposition of collections, and resource allocation. The Archives shall not deaccession items at the request of a previous owner. Disposal of deaccessioned items will follow the following options:

  1. Offer to return the deaccessioned items to the original donor by contacting them at their last known address.
  2. Transfer the deaccessioned item to an appropriate nonprofit or educational organization that is capable of properly caring for the item.
  3. Sell or dispose of the items following the Mercer Public Library Disposal of Library Property
Cooperative Agreements

In some circumstances, the Archives may work in partnership with other local organizations to house and maintain records on a temporary basis for exhibit, community access, digitization, preservation, or other purposes relevant to the Archives’ mission. In such cases, a memorandum of understanding shall be signed to delineate the ownership of the records, the scope of the project, and the rights and responsibilities of all parties.