At a glance

Special Collections & University Archives

Digital camera use

Adopted: Sept. 2006

Revised: March 2013

The use of personal cameras in the Field Reading Room is managed by Public Services, Department of Special Collections and University Archives.  Camera use by researchers occurs only by appointment and with departmental permission.  Digital surrogates taken by researchers are for private research and not for publication.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.  Appointment required

Researchers must submit a written request (either by email: or by letter) to the Department of Special Collections requesting an appointment for digital camera use.  Researchers must select materials and sign the Request for Digital Image Reproduction form (handed out in the reading room) before an appointment will be made.  Appointments are for one-hour increments.  An appointment can be extended if there are no other appointments scheduled and only after the photographer takes a 30-minute break before resuming work.  Requests to reproduce university archival materials must be authorized by the University Archivist.

Researchers need to arrive promptly for their scheduled appointment with a fully charged camera. Upon the conclusion of their appointment, they will need to submit their signed Request for Digital Image Reproduction form and cash or check payment to staff.

2.  Appointment location  

Digital camera use will take place at the camera station in the Field Reading Room of Green Library only.  Please note that this station does not have additional lighting. Other researchers are not to be disturbed while photography occurs. 

3.  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.

4. Items to be photographed  

Only materials reviewed by staff may be digitally photographed. Under no circumstances may researchers photograph any part of the reading room, other parts of Stanford University Libraries, library staff members, or other researchers.

5.  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.

6.  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.

7.  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. 

8.  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.

9.  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.