At a glance

Special Collections & University Archives

Digital camera use

Adopted: Sept. 2006

Revised: February 2015

The use of personal cameras in the Field Reading Room is managed by Public Services, Department of Special Collections and University Archives.  One is allowed to take photographs of materials but must sign a "Digital Release Form" prior to all photography; the photographic protocols will be explained in detail upon entry into Reading Room.  Digital surrogates taken by researchers are for private research and not for publication.   Fragile, damaged or restricted items will not be duplicated in any way and entire books or manuscript boxes (or substantial portions of either) will not be digitally reproduced unless otherwise authorized.  

The Department grants researchers the privilege of using their personal digital cameras to make digital surrogates of materials in the reading room at no charge and under the following conditions:

1.  Material review

Not all material may be photographed and the Department reserves the right to deny permission.  Digital camera use is subject to the material’s condition, copyright laws, donor-imposed restrictions, and specific conditions and arrangements for preservation.  Staff must review all material before an appointment will be scheduled.  Oversize items, records or documents in fragile condition, or those already available in microfilm or digital form, are not typically available for digital copying.  If an item’s condition dictates that a digital photocopy can be made by staff only, departmental digital copy charges will apply.

2.  Handling and Care

The preservation needs of the material outweigh the technical limitations of the camera.  Researchers must be familiar and experienced in the proper handling of material or receive instruction prior to the start of their appointment.  Patrons may not push on bindings or hold materials up in order to obtain a better quality picture.  Archival and manuscript material must remain flat on the table; books must remain in foam cradles with book weights used to hold pages flat. Flash photography is prohibited.  Any instance of flash photography, mistreatment and/or damage to materials during an appointment will result in an immediate termination of the session with no option to reschedule in the future.

3.  Equipment requirements and restrictions  

Cameras should have a manual setting and allow a long exposure since flash photography is prohibited.  The following equipment cannot be used to make digital reproductions:  personal scanners, tripods, extension cords, and flash photography.  Patrons may not under any circumstances stand on reading room chairs or place materials on the floor in order to obtain a better photograph.  Staff will request that a test shot be taken before an appointment begins in order to insure the flash is disabled.

4.  Copyright compliance

It is the policy of Special Collections that no entire collection or book can be copied or photographed.  Staff will provide researchers with a transparent template that must be included on each digital image. 

5.  Copyright declaration

Patrons agree to use digital surrogates made in the reading room for private research only.  Images of materials made in the reading room may not be used for publication or use on a website without permission in writing from the department.  Patrons must sign a copyright declaration form acknowledging that it is their responsibility to obtain relevant permission from copyright owners in the event they decide to publish their work.

6.  Inter library loan materials

Special collections materials lent to Stanford University Special Collections and sent via ILL will not be digitally photographed in the Field reading room or reproduced in any way by Special Collections staff. Special collections materials borrowed from Stanford University Special Collections and sent via ILL to another institution can not be digitally photographed in any way.