The Robert W. Richardson Railroad Library at the Colorado Railroad Museum gladly welcomes donations of books, artifacts, and railroad documents. Monetary or in-kind donations are also appreciated, as they allow us to steward existing collections, making them accessible and preserving them for posterity. We have an especially high need for items on our Wish List!

Sample of archival boxes

Artifact and Archival Donations
All incoming donations are assessed by the librarian or curator at the time of donation. In general, the museum and library are pleased to receive items that fit our scope of collections; can be used in research, education, or exhibits; and are in reasonable condition. We regret that our space constraints generally do not allow us to accession duplicates of items already in our collection. Items not retained in the collection can be sold in our gift shop or auction (with proceeds benefiting the museum, its collections, and its programming), given to another nonprofit institution, or discarded. Please note that the museum as a whole, including the library, does not accept conditional donations or “permanent loans.” We encourage potential donors to contact the museum prior to sending donations, so that donors are well-informed about the probable disposition of their donation. We also ask donors to sign donation paperwork at the time of the donation: this protects the museum legally, and provides the donor with a receipt for tax purposes.

Torn book in need of conservation

Monetary and In-Kind Donations

Processing and care of collections, both paper-based and non-paper-based, is an expensive undertaking. The museum and library are both in constant need of archival-grade supplies: tags, boxes, cases, ties, etc. (See our Amazon Wish List for specific items you can contribute to the Library and Material Culture collections!) The library is also in need of a large-format scanner that would allow us to make scans and copies in-house of some of our larger documents, particularly maps and blueprints. Many of these items are both fragile and frequently used: accessing them and scanning them through our commercial vendor is not ideal in terms of preservation, so being able to scan them in-house would greatly advance their “lifespan.” The library and museum both also house a number of artifacts that have deteriorated to the point that they need special care. Donations to their conservation are greatly appreciated! If you would like to discuss options for donating to objects and archives conservation and care, please contact us! We would love to help you find a project that you would feel good about supporting! Donate Today!

Donation Process
Many potential donors have questions about how to donate to the Colorado Railroad Museum, and about appraisals in particular. The Colorado Railroad Museum accepts donations of historic artifacts, documentary resources, etc. Indeed, the bulk of our collection is drawn from donations; we rarely purchase collection items. As a rule, the Curator assesses all non-paper donations; the Librarian assesses all paper-based materials, as well as A/V items (films, DVDs, sound recordings, etc.) and art. Items that are accepted into the collection are cataloged and stored with extant museum collections, and are used in exhibits and research as the need arises. Items that are not accessioned into the collection are offered to another non-profit or museum, sold to benefit the Museum, or disposed of. The most common reason for an item not being accepted into the collection is it being a duplicate of an item already in the collection. (We might, for instance, accept duplicate pieces of china, but no duplicate copies of a book or magazine.)

At the time of donation, we ask donors to fill out our “Notice of Received Donation,” which includes the donor’s contact information and a series of questions about your intent to donate, your acknowledgement of the different ways we might use your donation (accession into permanent collection, use for other purposes, sale, other disposal), and your copyright, if any, on the items. Please note that the Colorado Railroad Museum does NOT accept conditional donations or long-term/”permanent” loans, as we simply do not have the staff, space, or monetary resources to steward these items properly.

Regardless of how we use your donation, we will send you a receipt listing the type and quantities of items donated, for tax purposes. The Colorado Railroad Museum is registered nonprofit, and donations to the Colorado Railroad Museum are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. Please note that the Colorado Railroad Museum, its staff, and its volunteers may NOT provide a dollar-amount appraisal of your donation. The IRS considers us an interested party, so we cannot provide appraisals. Additionally, we are not antique dealers and do not necessarily know the market value of your potential donation. If you would like to donate to the Colorado Railroad Museum but are determined to have an appraisal with an assigned dollar amount, you will need to have this done prior to delivering your donation to us. For further information about appraisals, please see these documents, geared toward book/document donations and object donations.

The librarian will gladly discuss the needs of the Library with you and how your donation of collections or financial contributions can make a difference in preserving railroad history. You may contact the Library at 303-279-4591 or by email at

With your donations, we are able to continue keeping track of time at the Library … with lifetime benefits to future generations.

Library Hours
Tuesday – *Saturday
11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
For appointments and inquiries please call: 303-279-4591

*Please note that the Library does not open until 12:30p.m. on the second Saturday of every month, due to meetings held in the Library.