Why We Can't Be Appraisers

The Oregon State University Library is unable to provide appraisals of the monetary value of materials offered as gifts, brought in for identification, or submitted for any other purpose.

The Internal Revenue Service regards libraries and museums as interested parties, and appraisals by them for gifts that they receive are subject to question. This resulted because some libraries and museums in the past were tempted to compete for gifts by providing high appraisals. Consequently, the Association of College and Research Libraries recommends that "to protect both its donors and itself, the library, as an interested party, ordinarily should not appraise gifts made to it." Most libraries and museums now follow policies on appraisals similar to ours.

When an appraisal is used for tax and insurance purposes, an appraiser must be prepared to defend his appraisal in court. This requires an expert knowledge of prices. Valley Library is not in the business of buying and selling on a daily basis, so it cannot provide current market information as appraisers can. Furthermore, appraisers often have much more extensive collections of price guides and related bibliographies than can be found in most libraries.