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Special Collections Exhibit Loan Policy

Adopted: 30 October 2012; revised July 2020


Stanford Libraries will lend materials from its collections to recognized institutions, such as libraries and museums, provided they have established exhibition programs and professional staff qualified to handle the materials requested. Materials are not loaned to individuals. This loan policy has been established to ensure the safety and security of the objects in Stanford’s collections. Traveling exhibitions will be considered, but the Libraries reserve the right to limit the loan to the original venue. In addition, a facilities report will be required from all venues on the tour.

Each loan request is judged on its own merits and the final decision to loan an item(s) is based on the following criteria:

  • The condition of the item(s).
  • Prior exhibit loan history.
  • The nature and length of the exhibition.
  • The facilities of the borrowing institution.
  • The anticipated need of the item(s) for the Libraries’ own research or exhibition purposes.
  • The complexity of installation and need for Libraries’ staff to be present and able to travel.


Some objects in the Libraries’ collections are not available for loan, including those judged too fragile or too environmentally sensitive to travel.

Specific cost details associated with the loan will be outlined for the borrower as part of the loan agreement.


The Department of Special Collections & University Archives of Stanford Libraries welcomes applications from institutions to borrow items from its collections for exhibitions. Institutions wishing to request items are advised to read the following guidelines in advance of making a request and to contact the Libraries a minimum of nine months before the planned installation date for the exhibition. Borrowers requesting a larger number of items should make initial contact with the Libraries no less than twelve months prior to the installation date.

Each loan request is judged on its own merits, and the final decision to loan an item is based on the criteria listed in the Summary above. Written approval by the Head of Special Collections & University Archives is required for all loan requests.

Submitting a request

Requests should be made in writing by the borrowing institution (the Libraries do not lend to private individuals) and sent by email.

Requests should contain the following information:

  • The name of the institution, contact name, contact address, contact phone, contact email.
  • The location(s), title and dates of the exhibition.
  • Full details of the item(s) requested, a thumbnail image, the Libraries’ call number, or appropriate manuscript collection metadata (including call number, series or accession number, box and/or folder number) as well as descriptions for bound volumes specifying the opening(s) to be displayed. For over three items, this information must be presented in a spreadsheet.
  • A full facilities report for the premises where the proposed loan item(s) is to be exhibited (traveling exhibitions must provide full details for all venues in the tour).
  • Information about exhibition catalogs and/or web versions of the exhibition.


Requests must be received at least nine months before the planned installation date of the exhibition. Larger requests must be submitted twelve months prior to the installation date.

General conditions of loan

A formal loan agreement signed by the head of the borrowing institution, or his/her deputy, is required.

In most cases, the loan period for items is six months, maximum, from the date the item leaves to the date the item returns to the Libraries. More time may be considered in some circumstances where the nature of the loan requires it, i.e., traveling exhibitions. A maximum number of items for any loan will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, subject to format, condition and value of the item(s) requested.

Additional terms:

  • Since Stanford does not generally own copyright, by agreeing to the loan you agree to follow fair use practice and you agree to obtain permission from the copyright holder before we can provide digital files.
  • No publishing of photographs is permitted by the borrowing institution or visitors to the exhibition without prior permission from the copyright holder. It is the responsibility of the borrower to obtain permission.
  • When Stanford does not own copyright, by agreeing to the loan you agree to follow fair use practice and you need to obtain permission from the owner before we can provide digital files.
  • Conservation or remedial treatment of any kind may not be performed without our permission.
  • The source of the loan will be acknowledged both on the exhibition label for the item(s), and in any exhibition catalog. For example, "Courtesy of Department of Special Collections, Stanford Libraries."
  • Two complimentary copies of any exhibition catalog will be sent to the Dept. of Special Collections, Stanford Libraries.


Any dispute arising from the loan shall be determined in a State of California court of law.


The borrowing institution should be prepared to pay any and all of the costs related to their specific loan request. An estimate of services provided by Stanford Libraries will be provided to the borrower before a loan agreement is signed. For specific fees, please see Fee Schedule for External Loan.

Typical costs include:

  • Administration, paging/reshelving, condition assessment, housing and pre-crating packing of the item(s) for exhibition.
  • Any required conservation treatment to stabilize item(s) for loan.
  • Glazing, framing, custom mounts as required.
  • Transportation (including crating, freight costs, customs charges, broker’s fees, travel and lodging for a member of the Stanford Libraries Preservation Department to inspect the exhibition venue before a decision is made on an application, if necessary, and courier costs).
  • Costs for couriers from Stanford Libraries staff or their agents to oversee installation and deinstallation of lent items.
  • In the case of fragile or complex 3D objects, an additional fee is required to support the time required for preparation and installation costs of specialized staff.
  • Nail to nail insurance for borrowed item(s), in transit, in temporary storage, and while on exhibition.
  • Photography or other reformatting of item(s) either at borrower's request for publication or as a facsimile in lieu of original object.
  • Cancelled exhibition fees, including any costs incurred for conservation and preparation to date.



All transportation agents must be arranged by Stanford Libraries, and the cost will be borne by the borrowing institution. We require fine art shippers for our materials. Transportation agents and transportation companies must be bonded.

In general, we will not allow warehouse storage of our property in transit to and from the exhibition.

On occasion, Stanford will require a staff member from its Preservation Department to travel to the exhibition venue to assess it prior to Stanford deciding to permit the loan. The borrowing institution will pay the costs of travel and lodging should this be necessary.

In most cases, Stanford couriers will oversee the handling of an item(s) during the installation and de-installation process, requiring two separate trips. All costs related to this will be assumed by the borrowing institution.

The borrowing institution will provide secure interim storage, in terms of fire and security against physical harm, theft and unauthorized access, for all cases or crates containing our objects. This applies to the periods of pre-installation and de-installation; in neither case should this interim storage be for longer than 24 hours.

Environmental and security conditions

It is highly desirable that environmental conditions fall within the parameters recommended by museum standards. The borrowing institution must ensure the following standards for all locations that loan materials will be exhibited and documented in a facilities report. For traveling exhibitions, these standards must be shown for all related venues.

  • Stable temperature in the range of 64-70° F; fluctuation not to exceed +/- 3°.
  • Relative humidity between 40-50%; fluctuation not to exceed +/- 5%.
  • Light levels adjustable down to 50 lux; UV filtration not to exceed maximum of 75 microwatts per lumen.


An acclimation period of 48 hours in the gallery is required before installation.

The borrowing institution must guarantee the security of borrowed items at all times they are within the borrowing institution’s premises and the exhibition gallery. If the borrower, for reasons of security, wishes to withhold precise details of alarm systems, please make that clear.

  • There must be fire and intruder alarms covering the gallery containing Libraries’ objects.
  • The gallery should be fully locked, secured, and intruder/fire alarms set during closed hours.
  • Security guard patrols should be made during closed hours around the gallery.
  • Security guard or custodian presence must be maintained at all times the exhibition and gallery are open.


Installation and de-installation procedures

Installation and de-installation procedures will be approved in writing between the borrowing institution and Stanford Libraries. The individuals who will be responsible for handling materials during installation and de-installation must be specified and approved by the Libraries.

  • When the material is received, the borrower should inspect it upon unpacking and compare it with the condition report provided by the lender. Any damage or discrepancies must be reported immediately by telephone and subsequently in writing to Stanford Libraries staff.
  • The Libraries require a 48-hour acclimation period in the gallery prior to installing the materials.
  • In the event that a Stanford Libraries staff member has accompanied materials in the role of a courier, this individual will photograph the installation and de-installation process. The courier has authority to refuse to proceed with the loan if for any reason he/she has objections to the manner in which the objects are treated or if in his/her opinion the agreed conditions are not met.
  • After condition reporting and installation, the cases will be locked and the security alarms set. The Libraries prefer that, from this point onwards, adjustments in the cases be kept to a minimum with alarms set and cases locked throughout the duration of the exhibition.
  • Following de-installation, a report on the condition of the items must be created and signed by both the Libraries’ and the institution’s authorized staff. The report should clearly state the date of de-installation.
  • Items should be packed in the same manner in which they arrived at the borrowing institution, and any accompanying materials, such as identifying markers, should be returned to the Libraries with the correct corresponding item.
  • The borrowing institution will be liable for any damage sustained by the item(s) during the period of the loan.


Catalogs and display/credit line

After our agreement to lend materials for exhibition, Stanford Libraries will not ask to authorize the academic or scholarly content of the exhibition, although our curators are available for consultation if requested. We do ask:

  • All label citations and any published citations should include the following credit statement: "Courtesy of Department of Special Collections, Stanford Libraries."
  • Any display supports used for the exhibition of items on loan should be agreed to well in advance of the installation date, and the decision of the Libraries are final.

Fee Schedule for External Loan (January 2020)

Basic fees

Item fee for physical material lent

  • $265 per item per venue.
    • For exhibit purposes, an item is defined as a physical unit. A four page manuscript would be four items. 
    • Cost includes digital surrogate if original and digital copy requested.
    • An estimate of services by Stanford Libraries will be provided to the borrower before a loan agreement is signed.
  • Administration.
  • Paging, pulling, and re-shelving material.
  • Condition reporting and photo documentation.
  • Housing and pre-crating packing


Item fee for digital object

  • $100 per item (no fee for fewer than 10 items).
  • Administration.
  • Paging, preparation, metadata creation, and re-shelving material.


Digitization costs

  • Quote from Stanford Digital Library Services or external vendor.
  • Photography or other reformatting of item (e.g. reproduction for publication, facsimile in lieu of original object); may also include courier fee for transit to digitization vendor.


Cancellation fee

  • $50 per item + any direct cost born by lender
  • If a loan request is withdrawn after substantial work has been done to fulfill the request, a fee will be charged.


Variable fees

Additional flat fee for larger loans

  • $1000 per loan.
  • Over 20 items.



  • Retrieving and returning to art storage.
  • External vendor costs.


3D artifact installation

  • $1000 per venue.
  • For large or complex 3D objects requiring special handling at installation.


Conservation treatment

  • $85 per hour if done internally or reimbursement of charges to outside contractors.
  • An estimate will be provided before any conservation treatment is done.


Supplies and materials

  • External vendor or reimbursement for materials.
  • Glazing, framing, custom mounts as required.


Borrower Responsibility

Crating and shipping

  • Custom crates
  • Shipping and associated freight costs
  • Charges and broker’s fees


Courier costs

  • Round trip transportation to the exhibit location.
  • Hotel.
  • Per diem for food, local transportation, and incidentals.



  • External vendor or reimbursement for materials.


Last updated June 11, 2024