What is the Cooperative Acquisition Strategy?

What is it?

The CNSA was one of the first in Eastern Canada to introduce a Cooperative Acquisition Strategy and make it publicly available. The strategy encourages transparency with donations and ensures that they make their way to the most appropriate home in the province. In doing so, our documentary heritage is preserved at local, regional, and provincial levels. This strategy is often referred to in Acquisition Policies within Nova Scotia.

How does the Strategy help CNSA Members?

The Cooperative Acquisition Strategy prevents competition and collection overlaps between institutions. At the same time, it empowers you, the archivist, to decline records that do not fall within your archive’s mandate. The strategy also enables your staff and volunteers, as well as the public, to understand your archive’s areas of specialization within the province.

CNSA Members acquire:

  • records that are local, regional, or thematic in scope 
  • records from their sponsoring body
  • records from municipal governments

Nova Scotia Archives acquires:

  • records that are provincial in scope
  • records from the NS Government, agencies, boards, commissions
  • records from Crown Corporations

How is it useful?

The Cooperative Acquisition Strategy may be useful to your archives when: 

  • Your archive is offered the records of an individual or family whose records are also housed at another archive – you should refer the donor to that archive.
  • You are reappraising and deaccessioning archival materials – consider donating them to another archive whose Acquisition Policies matches the materials.
  • You are developing or revising your archive’s Acquisition Policy – you should do so in accordance with this Cooperative Acquisition Strategy and in recognition of the Archival Acquisition Policies of other Institutional members. 1


You are the archivist of the Anne Murray Memorial Library and Archives in Springhill Nova Scotia. The Library and Archives Association is seeking to build a fund so it can offer research scholarships in Atlantic Canadian music history and women’s studies. The Director has been soliciting a substantial donation from one of Springhill’s wealthiest and most prominent citizens, whose uncle happens to be a famous writer of literature. One day the writer offers his papers to the Murray Library. The papers do not fit with your holdings or your acquisition policy. You know that St. FX Archives has an excellent collection of 20th Century literary manuscripts and they have been soliciting this particular set of papers. How do you justify your decision to the Board of Directors?

A good starting point would be a phone call to the archivist at the St. FX Archives to see if the donation should make its way there. So, how can The Cooperative Acquisition Strategy help? Think of this strategy as a sort of non-compete clause. With a standardized policy in place, CNSA Institutional Members agree to support one another to ensure the integrity of donor relationships and find the right home for records. 

This scenario also emphasizes the importance of a mission statement and mandate, including the short and long-term goals of the archive in addition to its areas of specialization. In the provided example, stipulating the establishment of the research scholarship fund within the Cooperative Acquisition Strategy’s mandate would have helped the archivist avoid an uncomfortable situation and potential miscommunication with its governing body. An added bonus – a clear and concise mandate within this policy provides another opportunity to educate your staff, volunteers, and the public on the archive’s areas of specialization and goals. 

Stay tuned for Updating Your Preservation Policy!

  1. We are regularly updating our compilation of Member’s Cooperative Acquisition Strategies. If you would like to add to your Institution’s updated (or newly appointed!) Acquisition Policy and require assistance, please contact us↩︎