High Resolution & Time-Based Media Conversions

Columbia University Libraries (CUL) provides high-resolution digital reproductions and original or archival time-based media conversion services for purposes of supporting teaching, research, and other scholarship. Paper photocopies and low-resolution digital reproductions (PDFs) are also provided to our users to support research and scholarship.

The Preservation & Digital Conversion Division provides researchers with reproductions of items owned by the Columbia University Libraries collections. Reproductions are intended for personal or scholarly use, and patrons are responsible for all copyright and permissions matters.

Audio, Video and Time-Based Media

The RBML cannot provide access to original time-based media material which has not been first been reformatted for preservation. Researchers are welcome to examine archival time-based media items and decide whether they wish to place an order for Audio/Video reformatting. If copyright and/or condition restrictions apply, it may not be possible to digitize a requested item. Please note that A/V reformatting is handled by an outside vendor and typically takes 6-8 weeks.

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services (CUL/IS) Policy for Patron Access to Unique and Rare Media-Based Audio Materials

Access to unique and rare media-based audio content (e.g. audiotapes, cassettes, acetate disks, DATs, Microcassettes, Minidisks, etc.) is constrained both by physical condition and by obsolescence. Because they are subject to relatively rapid deterioration and are also obsolete, it is often difficult if not impossible to play such media safely in their current form.

CUL/IS policy is to restrict access to the original objects, and instead to create a digital preservation master and provide derivatives for patron access. By creating the preservation master, CUL/IS guarantees continued access to the content for future generations, and avoids a situation where an item played for access is irreparably damaged before a preservation master can be created.

CUL holds over 40,000 pieces of unique and rare audio and moving image materials. Creating digital preservation versions is expensive, and funds are limited. Currently it is necessary for patrons to help defray the cost of creating the digital versions.

Oral History

The ability of the Oral History Archives to reproduce transcripts for private research varies across the collections on an interview by interview basis. Ability to reproduce and allowable reproduction format is dependent on contractual obligations to narrators and copyright law. Please consult the Oral History Archives FAQ or contact the OH Archives for more information on their reproduction policies and forms.

Columbia University crown

University Archives

Columbia University Archives collections have different high-resolution digital reproduction forms & fees. Please consult the UArchives Use Policies & Services or contact the University Archives for more information on obtaining digital reproductions from these collections.

Order Forms

The digitization and A/V reformatting orders are handled by the Preservation Reformatting Department (PRD). For more information about placing and order, see Instructions for Placing an Order for Digitization or Other Copying.

Customers must review and sign the General Conditions of Service form and submit with the order. After providing the customer’s copy, Columbia University Libraries may choose to make a copy accessible for public use to the extent allowable by law.

Payment Methods

Preservation & Digital Conversion Department staff will contact you with instructions for secure remote payment.


The RBML reserves the right to limit the number of reproductions made, or to decline to make requested reproductions, due to the fragile nature of material, restrictions, or if we determine that copying material would violate U.S. copyright law. If you have questions about reproduction policies and procedures, please consult with RBML staff before placing an order. See the Columbia University Libraries Publication & Digital Reproduction Policy & Procedures for further details.



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.