The library maintains many collections within our Digital Collections. New items are acquired in a number of ways, including selected donations from members of the public.


Before an item is acquired for our collections, it undergoes a rigorous review process. Not all items are accepted, because not everything is appropriate for our collections, and because it is expensive to care for and provide access to collection items.


If you are interested in donating items, please review these frequently asked questions before contacting us.


What does the Library collect?


We collect a wide variety of materials, including:
    • Manuscripts
    • Government records
    • Maps
    • Oral history
    • Film
    • Photographs
    • Video


We also collect non-fiction (and some fiction) books about Sonoma County, Sonoma County figures and families, or the wine industry, though in general, they would not be considered for digitization. While our Special Collections does not generally collection fiction or non-fiction by Sonoma County writers if it does not deal with Sonoma County and is not personal or biographical, these materials may be considered for our Local Authors program).


What doesn't the Library collect?


In most cases, we do not collect:
    • Art
    • Historical Objects
    • Music
    • Unidentified photographs
    • Family Bibles
    • Family trees
    • Wedding dresses
    • Foreign military memorabilia


How do I donate an item?


First, let us know what it is you’d like to donate. Although you may bring materials directly to the Sonoma County History & Genealogy Library Petaluma History Room or the Sonoma County Wine Library, the best way to do this is by contacting us first:


If we do accept your donation, you will need to fill out a Deed of Gift form. You may use the signed form for tax purposes (consult your tax specialist).


The more information you provide about your item(s), the more easily we'll be able to make a decision about whether or not to add it to our collections.


Please note: the Library reserves the right to dispose of any unsolicited materials delivered to one of its sites.


How can I tell if the Library already owns an item?


With limited space and resources, the our interest is in building the Sonoma County Local History & Culture Collections only where gaps exist or in areas of particular interest. In general, we are not interested in adding items that duplicate those already in our collection. As such, you may wish to search the the Sonoma County Local History & Culture Collections before contacting us.
Does the Library ever purchase items from individuals for the Sonoma County Local History & Culture Collections?


Only in exceptional cases. On these occasions, we cannot suggest or set the purchase price but can only react to prices set by the seller, in keeping with ethical practices.
How is the decision to take or decline an item made?


Each item is different, but factors we consider include the item's historical or cultural significance for Sonoma County, physical condition, whether or not the Library already owns a similar item or copy, and the item’s ownership and use history. Potential additions to the collection go through a rigorous review process.
Can the Library appraise my item?


Because of its standing with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as a government entity, the Library cannot appraise or assign a monetary value to items. Those looking for appraisal services may wish to consult their local yellow pages or contact one of the following organizations for a referral:


Can I get a tax deduction for my donation?


Donations to the Library are generally tax deductible. Consult with a tax specialist to determine your eligibility. In most cases a self-reported value will be sufficient, although for larger donations, an appraisal of the donated item(s) may be necessary to receive a tax deduction. (see Can the Library appraise my item? above)
Can an item donated by me or my ancestors be returned to me?


Items that have been formally accessioned into the collections cannot be returned to the donor or their descendants. At the end of the donation process, donors are asked to sign a Deed of Gift which legally transfers ownership of the materials, as well as all associated rights and interests, to the Library.