Workbook on Digital Private Papers > Working with record creators > Donation and deposit agreements

Donation and deposit agreements


Drafting an appropriate deposit agreement was one of the earliest tasks Paradigm undertook. It proved impossible to find other examples of deposit agreements drafted for personal digital archives, so the project team began by looking at the kind of donation and deposit agreements in use for traditional archive material and thinking about how these should be adapted and augmented to meet all the requirements of the digital environment.

The project deposit agreement was produced for a very specific purpose; participating politicians agreed to loan their digital archives to the Bodleian and JRUL on the basis that the content was treated as confidential and access was limited to project staff. However, many of the concerns raised by the Paradigm participants are pertinent to personal digital archives more generally, particularly the issues of: privacy, confidentiality and data protection; access by third parties, especially by means of freedom of information requests; and IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) in the content of the archive.

Paradigm therefore explored some of the major issues which should be covered in any donation or deposit document dealing with hybrid or digital personal archives, with a view to drawing up a model agreement.

Issues which should be covered in a donation or deposit agreement for personal digital or hybrid archives

Any agreement needs to be legally sound, yet easily understandable by donors or depositors. It should clearly set out the obligations of both donor/depositor and archive repository. The content and extent of the archive should be set out in the schedule to the agreement, indicating (in the case of a hybrid archive) the relative proportions of hard copy and digital material. Different conditions may apply to hard copy and digital material (e.g. in relation to access by third parties) and where this is the case it should be clearly stated in the body of the agreement.

Some of the issues which should be covered in an agreement include:

Deposit and gift agreements produced by the Paradigm Project

In order to simplify the administration and management of its holdings, ideally an archive repository should base all its donation and deposit agreements on a single template which is uniform within the institution. However, in reality some flexibility is likely to be necessary, as is the case with traditional archives, and agreements will often have to be tailored to a specific individual or situation.

Paradigm produced a model gift agreement for use with digital and hybrid personal archives (see Appendix A: Model gift agreement). This might form a basic template for other collecting institutions to build on and adapt to their own requirements. Please consult with your legal team to ensure that the agreement is appropriate to your context.

Paradigm also developed a short-term Deposit Agreement which was specifically designed for use with the politicians participating in the project. For the purposes of the project, digital archives were deposited on the understanding that their content was confidential and that the archives would be closed to third parties; access was restricted to project staff and individuals accredited by the depositor.