Use Policies & Services

All services are contingent upon available staff resources. Turnaround times may be longer. We appreciate your patience and flexibility. 

Reproduction Services

The University Archives provides reproductions of images and documents from our collections upon request as long as the staff determines that copying will not harm the original document(s) or violate current copyright law. Low-resolution digital scans (PDFs) are provided to our users to support research and scholarship. 

  • Our ability to deliver low-resolution digital scans is dependent on available staff resources.
  • Priority processing will be given to requests in support of teaching and research by affiliates of Columbia University. 
  • Reproduction orders for archival material are limited to a maximum total of 250 pages.
  • Reproductions of Master's Essays or Dissertations are limited to 650 pages.
  • We reserve the right to limit or refuse multiple orders or single requests which exceed our maximum order limits, or to charge fees for accepted orders which we discover to exceed the above maximum order limits.
  • We can accept scan requests for “known items” (e.g. Box 7, Folder 3) but may not be able to fulfill requests which would first require dedicated research. Users may hire a current Columbia student to conduct research on their behalf.
  • Bound materials other than Oral Histories, MA Essays and Dissertations cannot usually be reproduced via photocopy or low-resolution PDF and may need to be reproduced via high-resolution digital imaging.
  • Requests for a complete unit or large amount of material, such as an entire box of manuscript material, cannot be fulfilled by low-resolution scanning. Reproductions may be possible through high-resolution digital imaging, if condition and copyright law allows. RBML staff will contact you if your request cannot be fulfilled by low-resolution digital imaging (PDF).
  • Please note that you must agree to the Terms of Service and sign any order forms. Failure to sign forms will delay order processing.
  • Accepted orders which meet these terms of service can generally be processed within 6-8 weeks.

Scan Request Forms

If you wish to request scans, read and agree to the above Terms of Service and complete and return the approrpiate form below to initiate a request. Library staff will review your request. We will contact you if your order cannot be fulfilled. If your order is accepted and can be processed, we will contact you to provide further instructions.

Master's Essays & Dissertations

  • Full text copies of dissertations published since 1997 (and some earlier dates) are available to Columbia UNI holders via ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global database. Non-Columbia patrons may order copies via ProQuest Dissertation Express. Various formats & fees apply.
  • Master's essays can be found by searching CLIO, our online library catalogue, with call numbers starting with COA. 
  • School of the Arts Writing Division MFA Essays require the permission of the author in order to be reproduced. Researchers should request permission via the School of the Arts Writing Division Office (212-854-4391; Once permission is received, the reproduction order can be processed. 
  • There is no charge for a PDF copy of master's essay or dissertation up to 650 pages in length.We reserve the right to charge a fee of $30.00 for each additional title requested.
  • There is no charge for previously scanned works.
  • If a disseration is available for download via ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global database or for purchase via ProQuest Dissertation Express, that is where a copy must be obtained.

If you are the author, or an heir of the author, of the thesis you are requesting, please consider adding the digital version to Academic Commons, Columbia's institutional repository. Email repository staff at to learn more.

For information on how to find and order copies of Columbia University Master's essays and dissertations, please check out our Master's Essays & Dissertations research guide.


If a reproduction order for archival material exceed our limits – 250 pages for manuscript material, 650 pages for Master’s essays or dissertations, or (4) high resolution TIFF or JPEG files – we reserve the right to limit or refuse such requests or to charge fees for accepted orders as noted below:

  • PDF copies of manuscript material: $0.25 per page
  • PDF copies of Master's essays or dissertations:
  • High resolution (600 dpi) TIFF or JPEG digital reproductions (UA):
    • $10.00 new scan
    • No fee for a copy of an existing scan

Publication Policy

General Policy

In most cases, the University Archives (RBML) owns only the physical object and therefore does not assume any responsibility for literary property, copyright, or any other legal issues involved in the publication and reproduction of items in its collections. It is the responsibility of the user to secure permission from the appropriate copyright holder. Any copyright infringement which may occur through the use of our material is the responsibility of the patron. The University Archives does not charge for the physical use of its items, but we do request that you use the following credit line:

"University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University Libraries".

If there is a known photographer or artist associated with an image you wish to publish we recommend attribution as good scholarly practice.

Citation Format

If you are citing a specific document, please use the following citation format:

Manuscript Citation: identification of specific item, date [if known], name of collection (Box #, Folder #), University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University Libraries.

Book Citation: Title, Call #, University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University Libraries.


For more additional information on copyright and fair use issues, please visit the web site of the Columbia University Libraries Copyright Advisory Office.  

For more information on publication policies for the Libraries in general, please see: Columbia University Libraries Publication and Digital Reproduction Policy and Procedures.

You may also want to consult WATCH, a database containing the names and addresses of copyright holders or contact persons for authors and artists whose archives are housed, in whole or in part, in libraries and archives in North America and the United Kingdom. WATCH is a joint project of the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Reading Library, Reading, England.


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 specific conditions is that the photocopy or 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.

This institution reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order if, in its judgment, fulfillment of the order would involve violation of copyright law.