Reading Room Camera Use Policy

This policy is designed to assist readers with their research by permitting limited use of digital still cameras. Physical condition, copyright issues, donor restrictions, curatorial decisions and other factors may limit or prohibit photography. Photographs are for personal study purposes only and cannot be reproduced, shared via email, transferred to any other individual, institution, or collection, exhibited, performed, broadcast, published, posted on the Internet, or used commercially.

Use of digital cameras is subject to the following conditions:

1. Those wishing to use digital cameras in the reading room must first review their needs with an archivist. fill out and sign a registration form provided by the assisting archivist.

2. Researchers understand that use of cameras are allowed under fair use provisions for personal study and images of archival content taken during their visit to the Institute Archives and Special Collections research room may not be published without explicit permission provided by a Rensselaer Archivist.

3. Archivists may limit the number of photos made by the researcher and may require the use of a paper or Mylar flag to be placed on materials which will read, “Original housed in the Institute Archives and Special Collections at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.”

4. It is the responsibility of each researcher to keep complete and accurate citations for all items photographed. Requests for permission to quote or subsequent orders for high-resolution photographic images cannot be processed without this citation.

5. Cameras may not be brought into the reading room until necessary approvals have been obtained. Researchers need to allow sufficient time for curatorial approval and photography. 

6. All photography will be conducted using ambient lighting. No tripods, flash, or copy stands may be used. Audible features on the camera must be turned off. Personal scanners are prohibited.

7. Materials must be handled properly and with great care. 

  • Bound volumes must be supported by a book cradle, unless otherwise instructed. No pressure beyond book weights, snakes, or other items provided by the Department may be applied to the bindings, text block, or any other material.
  • Loose manuscript material must remain in its folder, flat on the table at all times and kept in the original order. Fastened items may require special handling; do not attempt to separate fastened material. Please see the Archivist before proceeding.
  • Photographs and documents may not be removed from plastic sleeves.

8. No photographs may be taken of the room, readers, or staff.

9. Photographs will be taken at the researchers table.

10. Patrons may not stand on chairs or desks or rearrange furniture to obtain a better image.

11. The Department reserves the right to obtain a digital copy of any images obtained by the researcher under this policy.


The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the photocopy or other reproduction is not to be “used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship or research.” If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or other reproduction for purposes in excess of “fair use,” that user may be liable for copyright infringement. This institution reserves the right to refuse the use of a digital camera if, in its judgment, such use would involve a violation of copyright law. Further, the user agrees to defend, indemnify, and hold harmless the Princeton University Library, and the Trustees of Princeton University against all claims, demands, costs and expenses incurred by copyright infringement or any other legal or regulatory cause of action arising from the use of the Library’s facilities or materials.