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Rare Book Collection Digital Camera Use Policy

The following policy is designed to assist Readers with note-taking by permitting limited use of digital cameras.  Its continuance depends on Readers abiding by the rules and not disrupting the quiet work of fellow Readers.

Photographs are for study purposed only and may not be reproduced, transferred, published, or posted on the internet.  Images for publication or distribution must be ordered through the library.

Rare Book Reading Room, photographed by Megan Cook
Rare Book Reading Room, photographed by Megan Cook

Use of digital cameras is subject, but not limited, to the following conditions:

  • All candidates for photography must be flagged and examined by the librarian for physical condition, copyright issues, and donor restrictions before approval will be given.
  • No tripods, camera flashes, or special lighting are permitted. Audible features on the camera must be turned off.
  • No pictures may be taken of the room itself, other readers, or the staff.
  • Staff will designate the work location for patrons using cameras. Patrons may not stand on chairs nor rearrange furniture to get a better image.
  • Materials must be handled properly and with great care.  Staff will assist with setting up materials properly:
  • Bound volumes must be supported in a book cradle; no pressure may be applied to the bindings.
  • Loose manuscript material must remain in its folder and kept in order at all times. Documents must be kept flat on the table. If leaves are fastened together, please consult the librarian before proceeding.
  • No more than 50 pages or 20% of any manuscript or book (whichever is smaller) may be photographed.
  • A Dumbarton Oaks Rare Book Collection flag must be photographed with each item.
  • It is the responsibility of each reader to keep complete and accurate citations (complete call number, including item numbers and/or page numbers) for all items photographed. Requests for permission to quote, or subsequent orders for high-resolution or photographic images, will not be processed without this information.
  • The library reserves the right to deny requests or revoke permission for any reason.

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 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 reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use," that user may be liable for copyright infringement. The user agrees to defend, indemnify, and hold harmless Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, and Trustees for Harvard 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 materials.

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