As libraries relax their photography rules of library materials, scholars are increasingly using digital photography to capture printed and archival material. That is great news but does pose a few headaches also, in particular, in my experience the following:
- How do you get the best quality images? Bodleian Libraries doesn’t permit the use of flash, for instance.
- How do you organise your many images so you can find them again?
- How do you add description information about the source, copyright statement, etc.?
- How do you make sure you don’t infringe copyright?
Following a useful post on the H-HistBibl mailing list recently, I would like to share some pointers for those struggling with their many images or who want to make best use of them.
Check here what the rules are for Bodleian Libraries, British Library, Cambridge University Library and Bibliothèque nationale de France.
1. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Libraries had written a fairly comprehensive guide on Using Digital Tools for Archival Research.
This guide covers all the basics from the choice of cameras, how to take pictures to organising your photos and use of software and the all important back-up (just do it!!).
2. Thomas Padilla posted a tutorial on how to extract plain text data from images of print based archival content using optical character recognition (OCR).
3. Finally, Miriam Posner wrote about turning JPEGs into PDFs and about batch-processing photos.
What use of digital cameras and personal scanners do other major research libraries allow?
- Library visitors may use personal scanners and digital cameras to make copies from library material, with some exceptions.
- All equipment with the exception of flat bed scanners may be used.
- The use of flash photography is forbidden at all times.
- Some libraries and reading rooms have created specific areas where digital photography and scanning can take place. Please look for signs indicating that you are in the designated area or ask staff.
- Other libraries have not set up dedicated areas and will allow these processes anywhere in the library.
- Please consult library staff before using your digital camera or personal scanner.
- As a general rule, scanning or photography of material is at the discretion of library staff. Please consult library staff to see if an item is eligible to be copied. You will be asked to fill out the relevant application form.
- Please observe the guidelines above and ensure that you comply with the copyright restrictions.
- You may make digital copies for the purposes of private study or research for a non-commercial purpose.”
“Compact cameras, tablets and camera phones may be used to photograph some categories of material for personal reference use only. Copies, including photographic copies, must not be used for a commercial purpose. Please also be mindful of privacy and data protection laws.
Self-service photography is intended for personal reference copies, not for copying at scale or commercial copying. The Reading Rooms are not able to support the requirements of professional photography.”
Cambridge University Library rules:
“Cameras can be used to photograph most of the Library’s material as long as a form is completed and copyright regulations are observed. These photographs are for private research and study only and cannot be distributed, placed online or used within publications. Images must be ordered for these purposes.”
Bibliothèque nationale de France rules
“Les lecteurs de la Bibliothèque de recherche peuvent utiliser leur appareil personnel pour photographier gratuitement des documents des collections de la BnF.
Seuls les documents publiés il y a plus de 90 ans peuvent être photographiés. Les photos doivent être réalisées à des fins d’usage privé et sur une place désignée à cet effet.
Une autorisation de prise de vue est à demander au bibliothécaire.
La photographie des écrans d’ordinateurs ou d’appareils de lecture de microformes est interdite.”
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