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Copyright, Credit and Citation Guidelines


We do not charge any permission or usage fees for the publication of images of material in our collections, including those provided by Princeton University Library, via our website, catalog, or directly from staff. 

For more information on how to order reproductions, please see the Digitization and Publication Services page of our website.


It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and for obtaining all required permissions from any existing rights holders if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited.

While Princeton University Library owns the physical materials in its collections, we generally do not own the copyright to those materials. Some materials are in the public domain. However, certain images or materials may be protected by trademark, privacy rights, publicity rights, or other interests not owned or controlled by Princeton University.

Furthermore, not all items are eligible for digitization due to copyright, access restrictions, or conservation considerations. Please consult the "Access and Use" note of a collection's finding aid or contact Special Collections staff using our Ask Us! form for more information.

If the copyright for a collection is held by Princeton University, you will not need to obtain permission, complete any forms, or receive a letter to move forward with publishing materials from Princeton University Library Special Collections. To determine if the library holds the copyright to a collection, please see the access and use note of the finding aid.   

For general help determining issues regarding fair use, the public domain, and copyright best practices, please see the Copyright at Princeton website or Stanford University's Copyright & Fair Use Guide. You may also want to consult the Harry Ransom Center’s WATCH File: Writers, Artists and their Copyright Holders or the U.S. Copyright Office Database.

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, §108, 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 specified 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 a violation of copyright law.

Guidelines for images taken by researchers in the reading room can be found in detail by Digital Camera Usage in the Reading Room policy.


We recommend that patrons consult the style guide of their choice (MLA, APA, or Chicago) for proper citation guidance.  Please note, however, that primary source citation information may require additional information to accurately reflect the specific item in question. 

Citations for manuscript materials (including those from the Manuscripts Division, Public Policy and University Archives) may be expanded to include the “Collection Name,” “Special Collections,” and “Princeton University Library” 

Example: The Zelda Fitzgerald Papers, Special Collections, Princeton University Library  

Citations for all other material (including Graphic Arts, Rare Books and Cotsen Children’s Library), may be expanded to include only the repository information: “Special Collections,” and “Princeton University Library” 

Example: Douglass, Frederick. Three addresses on the relations subsisting between the white and colored people of the United States. Washington DC: Gibson Brothers, 1886. Special Collections, Princeton University Library.

We do, however, ask that if researchers plan to publish images of collection material provided via the Library Catalog, Finding Aids, or staff contact, that a credit line is included alongside the image. 

Example: Courtesy of Princeton University Library

For additional guidance, please contact Special Collections Staff using the Ask Us! form on our website.