Publication & Digital Reproduction Policy & Procedures

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 order to support research and scholarship, CUL seeks to reduce or eliminate restrictions for the research and educational uses of the CUL collections, including the reproduction and publication of materials found in the collections. However, CUL and users of the Libraries must respect copyrights and other legal rights held by other parties that may affect the use of materials in the collections. Therefore, CUL provides services on the following terms for purposes of supporting teaching, research, and other scholarship. This statement applies only if the use of materials is principally for research and scholarship. Uses that are principally for commercial purposes may be subject to separate agreement between the user and the specific Columbia library holding the materials of interest.

Reproduction of Materials from the CUL Collections

  • Reproduction by Users
    Users are responsible for reproductions and other uses that they may make of materials from the CUL collections.
  • Reproduction by CUL Librarians and Staff
    CUL offers various reprographic services upon request. CUL has the discretion to make or not make the copies, and will do so only in a manner consistent with copyright law and any other obligations, and consistent with the conservation and managerial practices of CUL. Individual libraries at Columbia may set fees and terms for such services. 
  • Reproduction Fees

A primary objective of any research library is to make its resources as widely available as possible.  Reproductions are one way that CUL seeks to accomplish that goal, by digitizing or otherwise copying as many materials as possible, including through sustained projects.  Time and resources are, however, limited, and CUL holds many millions of items.  Patrons often seek copies of materials that CUL has not yet addressed, for reasons ranging from casual reference to publication.  CUL is happy to provide an on-demand copying service to assist those patrons.  CUL subsidizes the cost of patron reproductions, but does ask that patrons help to defray part of the cost, which in turn helps to sustain the CUL digital library program.

When CUL digitizes any item, no matter the reason, it is in the best interest of the item to do it once and do it well.  Subjecting fragile, sometimes unique, materials to the repeated handling associated with scanning risks damage to the materials.  CUL therefore captures high-resolution, archival quality images and places them in its digital archive for long-term preservation to assure that it is available to future users.

Each patron pays for a high-resolution copy of an item that Columbia owns and preserves.  CUL may subsequently upload a lower resolution version of the file to its own website or to other sites such as Flickr or Internet Archive for free public access.  Patron copy requests thus are helping to build the digital corpus that is shared among researchers internationally. 

Publication & Other Uses of Materials from CUL Collections

  • General Position
    In order to reduce barriers to the dissemination of research conducted in its collections, CUL will ordinarily not set conditions on publication of materials from the CUL collections in connection with scholarship. CUL does not hold the copyright to most materials in the collections, and CUL will neither grant nor deny copyright permission regarding such materials.
  • Columbia University Holds the Copyright
    If Columbia University or any affiliated party holds the copyright or other legal rights in materials, the appropriate Columbia office may set standards and terms for the use of such materials.
  • Materials or Services are Subject to Contract or Other Obligation
    Some materials in the CUL collections are subject to contractual obligations or other restrictions on use. Users are responsible for inquiring about such conditions and using materials in an appropriate manner.


CUL asks all researchers who use its collections to cite accurately and to acknowledge and give appropriate credit to the specific library within CUL for supporting their research.

Further Information

For additional information about copyright law as it is relevant to education, research, and scholarship, visit the website of the Copyright Advisory Office based at CUL ( Users should seek independent advice on all legal matters.

Version: October 26, 2009
Approved by Management Committee, November 18, 2009

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