Present identification to enter.

Park scooters, bicycles, and other wheeled vehicles outside.

Occupy study spaces with your body, not your things.

Observe posted noise expectations.

Eat and drink in designated areas.

Respect private and institutional property.

Post flyers on public bulletin boards.

Return library materials to designated areas.

Listen to Public Safety and Libraries staff during emergencies.

Act in accordance with the law and University policy.

Treat others with courtesy and kindness.

Columbia University Libraries encourages respectful, non-disruptive, and productive use of collections and spaces for research and study. All users are expected to behave in accordance with the law and University policy.

Columbia University Libraries is grateful for the generosity of its donors and welcomes gifts of materials that will significantly advance the scholarly, research, and teaching mission of the University.  

Please review how to donate books or items before making a visit or inquiry. 

Mission Statement

Columbia University Libraries (CUL) recognizes the fundamental importance of original documents, artworks, historical artifacts, rare printed volumes, prints, and other primary sources to research and global intellectual exchange. A significant component of CUL’s continuing efforts to connect users with its important distinctive collections is by making works available as loans to exhibitions worldwide. In order for these cultural heritage holdings to be more widely disseminated among the broader academic community and interested public, it is the policy of CUL to lend material from its collections to exhibitions that demonstrate a commitment to an educational and scholarly mission.

Go to the Guidelines for Borrowing Materials for Exhibition

Columbia University Libraries

The Columbia University Libraries supports and complies with New York State Law (New York State Civil Practice Law & Rules 4508, Chapter 112, Laws of 1988) with respect to the confidentiality of library records. All library records relating to an individual patron's use of the library and its resources are confidential. These records may be consulted and used by library staff in the course of carrying out library operations, but will not be disclosed to others except upon the request or consent of the library user, or pursuant to subpoena, court order, or otherwise required by law. Such disclosure may be made only by Directors in consultation with the University Librarian and University Counsel.

New York State Civil Practice Law & Rules 4509, Chapter 112, Laws of 1988

Library records, which contain names or other personally identifying details regarding the users of public, free association, school, college and university libraries and library systems of this state, including but not limited to records relating to the circulation of library materials, computer database searches, interlibrary loan transactions, reference queries, requests for photocopies of library materials, title reserve requests, or the use of audio-visual materials, films or records, shall be confidential and shall not be disclosed except that such records may be disclosed to the extent necessary for the proper operation of the library and shall be disclosed upon request or consent of the user or pursuant to subpoena, court order or where otherwise required by statute.

Confidentiality of Personally Identifiable Information 

There are 24-hour recorded video cameras in the Libraries to support the security and safety of all library users and staff. The security cameras provide direct feeds to the Department of Public Safety on campus. Footage is viewed only in the event of an active investigation of a reported incident.

We are dedicated to building and stewarding collections that have the greatest impact on research, teaching, and learning at Columbia. Our collection choices and long-term stewardship plans are made with regard to the advancement of the mission and goals of Columbia University. Our collections are dynamic, responsive, and purposefully developed to realize the value of collections that have defined the our strengths in the past as well as resources that have been traditionally overlooked. Collections are being shaped and continually enriched in ways that advance access to heritage materials representing varied contours of knowledge and diversity of content.  

Go to Collection Development Policies & Strategies

  1. A central mission of Columbia University Libraries (CUL) is to make its collections available in support of research and scholarship by members of the Columbia University community and others. In support of this mission, CUL provides access to online exhibitions and its digital collections for purposes that include highlighting the collections, providing information about the collections and the materials contained in them, and encouraging broader discovery.
  2. Users of materials in the Libraries collections, including its online exhibitions and digital collections, must respect copyright and other legal rights held by other parties that may affect their subsequent use. Where materials are protected by copyright law, CUL provides access to them in its online exhibitions or its digital collections for educational, scholarly and research purposes.
  3. Many of the materials included in the online exhibitions and in the digital collections are not copyright protected, and they are made available without restrictions. The online exhibitions or digital collections may also include materials that are protected by copyright, subject to license or other rights, such as rights of privacy or the use of names and likenesses.  You may have to seek permission from the rights holder to reproduce and otherwise use the materials. Alternatively, you may be able to use the exhibitions, digital collections and the materials contained in them as permitted by law, such as under fair use and other copyright exceptions.  Columbia University makes no representation about the copyright or other legal status of the materials.  It is your responsibility to investigate and, if needed, clear rights to use these materials.
  4. The materials are displayed “as is” and without warranties of any kind, either express or implied, including any warranties of title, non-infringement of copyright or other rights.
  5. You are welcome to link to our online exhibitions or digital collections for educational and research purposes. If you wish to publish or reproduce materials in the online exhibitions or the digital collections, please see: Columbia University Libraries Publication & Digital Reproduction Policy and Procedures.  
  6. If you have questions, comments, or additional information related to our online exhibitions or digital collections, please contact: digitalprojects@library.columbia.edu
  7. If you are a copyright owner and believe that your rights have been infringed, please see Copyright – Columbia University in the City of New York.

What does harmful or outdated language mean, in descriptions of library and archival resources?

Language evolves over time and in different contexts—notably terms related to race, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, Indigenous peoples, immigration status, ability status, religion, and other characteristics or identities. Pejorative, inaccurate, and outdated terminology is a difficult product of the structural oppression embedded in the cataloging systems used by our libraries, as well as in the cultural record represented in our collections. Catalog records and archival descriptions can also perpetuate structural oppression by omission, erasing individuals and communities with marginalized identities from the cultural record and glossing over harmful actions of individuals and communities from dominant groups. 

As a result, catalog records and archival descriptions sometimes contain language that is harmful or omits important information. Primary historical resources and older descriptions are more likely to reflect terms that may have been widely used in their time, but are now seen as biased, dehumanizing, or obscure. In many other cases, the language in question was always harmful, but what is changing is an awareness of who has the power to impose terminology on others and an awareness that people should have the power to self-determine the terminology used for their own identities or communities.

How is the staff of the Columbia University Libraries addressing harmful language in resource descriptions?

The Columbia University Libraries aims to enable a thriving, inclusive community by embedding support and welcome for all identities and cultural experiences in our efforts, conversations, and actions. We seek to affirm the voices and perspectives of people with marginalized identities, including Black, Indigenous, Asian, and Latinx people; queer people; transgender people; women; undocumented people; people with disabilities; low-income people; and people with multiple or other marginalized identities. We are aware of the harmful impact of biased language on library users, and we have undertaken efforts to revise and recontextualize library resource descriptions containing this language. We have also established technical solutions that enable the display of more respectful, accurate, and inclusive terminology in place of problematic terminology in some resource descriptions.

You may continue to see harmful language in quotations, titles of resources, names of organizations, and other data taken directly from the resource itself or from the creators of those resources.

How can I report harmful language in resource descriptions?

We acknowledge that our efforts to address harmful language and omissions in resource descriptions are ongoing and imperfect. We invite feedback and continued dialogue on our cataloging and archival description practices. Reports of harmful language or omissions in catalog records, archival finding aids, and descriptions of digital collections can be brought to our attention by using the Suggestions & Feedback option in the Feedback/Help menu in CLIO​, or by emailing ​cliofeedback@library.columbia.edu.

Permission to film in any library locations requires advanced permission from the Libraries' Communications Office. 

Columbia University Library facilities are private property and are subject to restrictions allowable by law. The following policies are designed to ensure that libraries are able to maintain study spaces and service areas without disruption and that each user's right to privacy is respected. 

For full University policies, please see Columbia University News Media and Filming Policies

Photography and Film

Requests to professionally photograph or film in any library location must generally be limited to regular operating hours of the requested library facility. Please reference the Booking Space in the Libraries page for more information. Individuals or crews using cameras must be accompanied by an assigned communications officer or other designated University escort at all times.  Media personnel that have been granted permission to enter library facilities must clearly display valid credentials. Requests to obtain "broadcast roll" in any library facility requires permission and an assigned escort.

Academic recesses are the best time to film at Butler Library and other library facilities. During high-use times during a semester, it is unlikely that requests will be granted. Please reference the University Academic Calendar for dates. All commercial and documentary productions are subject to location and support fees, based on the scope of work.  For more information, please visit the University Event Management Website about filming on campus. 

  • To submit a request for a commercial, for-profit photography or film shoot, please do so through the Columbia University Events Management system.  

  • To submit a request for journalistic news media photography or film shoots, documentaries, or for student projects, please submit a request two weeks prior to desired shoot date. 

Event Access

Libraries events are open to media visits with advanced approval. To gain access, the media outlet must agree to comply with these policies and must display valid credentials. Media attending events must remain seated in a designated section unless permission is given to move elsewhere. 

To request permission to attend a Libraries event or exhibit, please contact the Libraries Communications Office in advance of the event at 212-854-5289.  

  • Items must be posted only on corkboard/bulletin board surfaces.
  • Items must contain the name and contact information of the sponsoring Columbia-affiliated individual or group. 
  • Items will be periodically removed when they are no longer timely, do not comply with these guidelines, or when space is needed for newer items.