Copying & reproduction

Rules regarding reproductions

Use of personal cameras is allowed in the Reading Room with staff permission. Please refer to the RBSC Policy on Personal Photography.

Requests for research-quality reproductions (photocopies, scans) or professional, high-resolution scans are handled by RBSC staff on a case by case basis.  Ask staff for a reproduction form. 

Images intended for publication (web or print) must be ordered from RBSC staff using the reproduction form. Fees may apply.


Policy on Personal Photography

  • Personal photography, for research purposes, is permitted in the Reading Room on approval of Reading Room staff, depending on factors including fragility of the material.

  • Cameras, including handhelds, cell phones, or iPods are permitted for use with flash disabled. No additional equipment, such as lighting or tripod is permitted. 

  • The reader must take care to protect the rare material at all times. Books and other items must be set-up prior to photography with the assistance of RBSC Staff. Lanyards worn around the neck or wrist to support the camera are encouraged.

  • Images intended for publication (web or print) must be ordered from RBSC staff using the reproduction form.

  • Photography of the Reading Room, the exhibition cases, staff members or other readers is not permitted.

  • Readers agree to the above policy on personal photography upon registration.


Rules regarding photocopying

Researchers must understand that the collections are being built and preserved for future as well as present use. We must maintain a balance between access to and conservation of the material housed in the Rare Books and Special Collections, and for this reason cannot always permit items to be photocopied.

Only material judged to be in suitable condition by the Rare Books Conservation Specialist may be photocopied.

Approved photocopying is limited to 10 pages per item. (McGill theses are exempt from the 10 page limit.)

No Canadian material for which CIHM (Canadian Institute for Historical Micro-reproductions) microfiche copies exist may be photocopied.

Approved photocopying must be done by Rare Books and Special Collections staff on the slanted edge photocopier located on the premises.

A Photocopy Request Form is available from the Reading Room Supervisor and should be completed to request photocopies.

Some examples of books which may never be photocopied:

  • Very heavy books. Heavy books are difficult to handle and a strain is put on the binding in trying to obtain a copy.
  • Very large books. In this case the restriction is necessitated by the size of the machine itself.
  • Books with historically important or fine bindings. These must be protected.
  • Tightly bound books. If a book does not open easily, the spine could be damaged in trying to obtain a satisfactory copy.
  • Books with pullouts larger than their covers. Pages that extend beyond the edges of a book are especially vulnerable to tearing.
  • Books with brittle or torn pages. Pages already damaged can deteriorate further if photocopying is permitted.
  • Many other books are vulnerable to damage through photocopying, and as a general rule will be refused if it is thought that their condition might deteriorate if photocopying were allowed.

All books are assessed individually.

High Resolution Scans

Use fees

Use fees grant rights for a one-time, exclusive use of the image. Authorization is required for any subsequent use of the reproductions. Please consult the department Head in order to know more about the fee structure for commercial and non-profit entities.

A Digital Scan Request Form is available from the Reading Room Supervisor and should be completed to request scans.


Reproduction of the materials is allowed for personal or scholarly use. The granting of permission to publish by Rare Books and Special collections does not absolve users from securing permission from copyright owners and payment of such additional fees as the owners may require if the division does not own copyright or if the material is not in the public domain. Applicants assume all responsibility for questions of copyright and invasion of privacy that may arise in copying and in the use made of the photographic and digital copy.

Researchers must include the supplied credit line when reproductions are used for publication, exhibition, web site production and video production.

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