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Collection Policy & Documentation

Collection Policy

The Niels Bohr Library & Archives acquires archives and manuscript collections when it is the most appropriate repository for the materials. The Archives is the official repository for the permanently valuable records of the American Institute of Physics and its member societies: Acoustical Society of America, American Association of Physicists in Medicine, American Association of Physics Teachers, American Astronomical Society, American Crystallographic Association, American Geophysical Union, American Physical Society, American Vacuum Society, Optical Society of America, and The Society of Rheology. Otherwise the Center normally does not try to acquire collections for itself but seeks to preserve them at the most appropriate repository; however, at times, that repository is the Center's own Archive.

A Note About Electronic Files:
E-mail and other digital applications present special preservation problems for archives. Because of frequent changes in hardware and software, the absence of preservation standards for electronic media, and the simple lack of long-term experience, no one can guarantee that digital records will last indefinitely. However, because such records are critical to documenting contemporary life, archives have developed interim practices for appraising and preserving them.

 The Niels Bohr Library & Archives accepts digital files that conform to the collecting policy described above and that are 1) generated by software applications currently supported by AIP and 2) accompanied by printed documentation describing the contents of the files and the software used. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to maintain the data permanently, but we will follow generally-accepted archival best practices in an effort to ensure their long-term preservation. Contact us for details.

Policy on Journal Referee Files:
See http://www.aip.org/history/newsletter/spring2007/refereefiles.html for a description of AIP's policy on preserving journal referee files.


The Center is well known for its work on the problems of documenting modern science. Through research, the staff builds a sound base for advising scientists and institutions on how they may best safegauard the record of their achievements. For information on current work, contact us or see the documentation preserved column in our current newsletter. You can also view the newsletter archives for our previously published columns.

The Center has been a leader in promotinog the preservation of endangered historical records held by large industrial and government laboratories. The published results of these studies are available on our website and include:

  • AIP Study of Multi-Institutional Collaborations

    Reports presenting findings of the AIP Center's study of the organizational structures and functions of large research collaborations. Of broad interest to scholars concerned with the social context of modern science or current archival methodology. Particularly useful to those institutions and individuals with responsibilities for selecting records of archival value to meet the needs of administrators and future historians and other scholars. All reports are FREE.

  • Documentation of Postwar Physics

    A set of booklets developed by the AIP Center for History of Physics' extensive study of records keeping and records appraisal at U.S. Department of Energy Laboratories. Generally useful for large laboratories and other research institutions initiating or upgrading archival programs. FREE.

  • History of Physicists in Industry

    A systematic study of the organizational structure, communications patterns, and archival records of industrial physicists in the U.S.; the report provides general guidelines for understanding and documenting their work