FAQs About Donating Records

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1. What is the process to donate my records?
2. What will happen to my records at the Archives?
3. Can I ever see my records again?
4. What if I want to keep the originals?
5. What if I need copies made?
6. Who gets to see my records?
7. Is there a charge for archiving?
8. What does SPRA take/want?
9. How safe are my records?
10. Why should I donate my records?


1.What is the process to donate my records?

The first step to donating your records is simply to contact SPRA. The next step is to deliver the records or make arrangements for SPRA to pick them up. While you are delivering the records, we will get you to sign a “Gift Agreement” form. We use this form to gather information about you and your records so we can document clearly where the records in our holdings have come from and that we have a right to have them and to provide researchers with access to them.



2. What will happen to my records at the Archives?

Your records will be processed, preparing them for researchers to use. The records you donate will most likely be processed as a fonds based on who created them and named accordingly. A fonds is the whole of the records, created, accumulated, and used by a person, family, government, business, association, or organization, during its functions or activities. The first step in processing is appraisal. Here a fonds is distilled down to its essentials and unnecessary and duplicate records weeded out so that the resulting fonds is tight and easy to use. Next comes arrangement. As far as possible, the archivist tries to preserve the original order given to the records by its creator, although it is sometimes necessary to impose an order. Within a fonds, records are divided into smaller groups called series, then sub-series, files, and items. After arrangement is re-housing and related conservation activities. The goal of the Archives is to preserve records for the longest possible period, so we rehouse the records in acid-free files, envelopes, and boxes and determine whether further conservation treatments or reformatting is needed. Finally, the records are described. We produce a finding aid giving a history of the creator of the records and a brief description of the kinds of records in the fonds, their dates, quantity of records, location, etc. to give researchers a guide to find the information they need. As the donor, you will be sent a copy of the description/finding aid and given the opportunity to make corrections. When all of this is done, the fonds is ready for researchers to use it! The records themselves remain in the storage room in their new boxes and until they are requested.



3. Can I ever see my records again?

Of course! Your records remain accessible to you once they are donated to the Archives. You can request copies (free of charge to donors) or go through the originals at the Archives. You are not allowed to remove them from the archives but loans of material are possible for special events in consultation with the archivist.



4. What if I want to keep the originals?

Although it is always our preference to archive the originals and provide the donor with copies we realize that not all donors are willing to give up their originals. If you are donating copies rather than originals, the “Gift Agreement” form is replaced by the “Loan for Copy Form”. Much of the information collected remains the same, but the copyright section is expanded to give the Archives permission to use the material in the greatest variety of ways without copyright being transferred away from the physical records.



5. What if I need copies made?

Copies are made available to the donor for free in the majority of cases, except for items like film or oversized photographs that are extremely costly to reproduce, or large collections. Please call us to discuss your specific situation and needs.



6. Who gets to see my records?

When records are donated to a public archives, there is an understanding that the records will be made available to any member of the public for research. Records may also be used by the Archives for special projects, including publications and displays, and posted online for research use. When you sign the “Gift Agreement” or “Loan for Copy” form, there is a place for you to specify any restrictions on access to the records, particularly if they contain information of a sensitive, embarrassing, or extremely personal nature. The archivist accepting your records will help you determine whether restrictions are needed, what portion of the fonds should be restricted, and a reasonable amount of time for the restriction to be in place. In general, the Archives is reluctant to accept records that are permanently restricted.



7. Is there a charge for archiving?

No. SPRA is funded by the City of Grande Prairie, County of Grande Prairie, Municipal District of Greenview, and Municipal District of Spirit River. Accepting the records of their residents and those showing their history is part of the service we provide to them. However, since the costs for staff time and specialized conservation supplies can be high, SPRA greatly appreciates monetary donations to allow us to stretch our resources further and make more material available.



8. What does SPRA take/want?

At the most general level, SPRA takes records in all formats (paper, photographs and negatives, film, video, sound recordings, maps and plans, drawings, electronic, etc.) that reflect the political, social and economic life of the south Peace River Country of Alberta. Our primary focus is on one-of-a-kind, unpublished material, although we do maintain a small reference library. SPRA does not accept artifacts or general interest publications. Donors need not worry about re-organizing or removing records from their overall collection or making decisions as to what is or is not historically relevant. Records may simply be donated “as is” and the archivist will determine what should be kept. Extraneous material will be either returned to you or discarded, based on which option you selected on your Gift Agreement form.



9. How safe are my records?

SPRA takes numerous precautions to ensure that your records are protected from a variety of hazards and preserved for the longest period of time possible. Records are rehoused in acid-free files and boxes and placed in a locked storage room inaccessible to the public and with monitored temperature and humidity conditions. Original records may only be accessed onsite and researchers are supervised.



10. Why should I donate my records?

Your records help create a fuller picture of the history of the area by showing the contributions you, your family, your organization, or your business have made. They are evidence of what happened in the past and are worth preserving for use in the present and the future. Donating your records allows you to downsize and empties your storage areas of records you no longer need. Archiving your family or organization records also allows other members and interested individuals to have greater access to them in the long term. As an archives, we are dependent on donations of records from people like you. Please consider donating your records today.