Orders & Services

Orders & Services for the 2020-2021 Academic Year

All services have been impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and are contingent upon available staff resources. Turnaround times may be longer.  We appreciate your patience and flexibility.

Reproduction Services

Paper photocopies, low-resolution digital reproductions (PDFs)high-resolution digital reproductions and original or archival time-based media conversion services for purposes of supporting teaching, research, and other scholarship. The RBML provides reproductions from our collections upon request as long as the staff determines that copying will not harm the original document(s) or violate copyright law.

  • PDF Scans: We are not charging fees for small low-resolution PDF orders which meet our Terms of Service for 2020-2021.

TERMS OF SERVICE for 2020-2021

Our ability to deliver low-resolution digital scans is dependent on available staff resources. A limited number of staff are working on-site due to University-mandated density limitations.

  • Priority processing will be given to requests in support of fall semester teaching and research at Columbia University.
  • Reproduction orders for archival material are limited to a maximum total of 250 pages.
  • Reproductions of Oral Histories, 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, and to charge a nominal fee of $.25/page for accepted orders which, upon review and processing, are found to exceed 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. In those cases, RBML staff will contact you to offer alternatives if possible. 
  • Bound materials other than Oral Histories, Master's 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 or an entire bound volume, cannot be fulfilled by low-resolution scanning but 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).
  • Orders which meet these terms of service will generally be processed within 4-6 weeks.
  • If a request does not meet these Terms of Service or cannot be fulfilled for another reason, RBML staff will contact you by email to resolve.

Class Instruction & Assignments

Faculty from Columbia University and affiliated institutions are welcome to arrange for remote instruction sessions with Rare Book & Manuscript Library (RBML) curators.

Faculty interested in giving class assignments involving RBML materials are asked to explore our remote resources and to contact RBML to discuss options and strategies: rbml@library.columbia.edu

The RBML reading room will be open on a very limited basis by appointment only beginning September 8, 2020 to current Columbia affiliates (students, faculty and staff) whose individual research requires consulting RBML materials.

Hiring a Researcher

Columbia University is not permitting visitors on campus so the RBML is not able to welcome non-Columbia researchers to the reading room at this time. If you would like to hire a Columbia student to assist you, you may contact the following offices where you can post a temporary position.

Loans for Exhibitions

Institutions interested in borrowing materials from RBML collections for exhibitions should contact Jennifer Lee at least six months in advance of the opening of the exhibit for domestic exhibitions and one year in advance for exhibitions in countries other than the United States. Preliminary information should include full description of item(s) requested, opening and closing dates of the exhibit, and an indication of how material would be displayed. Exact display information and a formal exhibitions facilities report for the institution will be required before a decision can be made.

Please see the Columbia University Libraries Guidelines for Lending Materials for Exhibition for a detailed description of how to place your loan request.

For further information, please see the Rare Book & Manuscript Section, Association of College and Research Libraries, American Library Association, ACRL Guidelines for Borrowing and Lending Special Collections Materials for Exhibition (January 2005).