The American Library Association’s basic policies support freedom of research and the unrestricted dissemination of the results of research. The following policies governing the use of archival materials are as liberal as possible considering the needs of scholars, the restrictions imposed by authors, donors, or ALA unit, copyright laws and proprietary rights, the nature of the materials, and the physical preservation of the materials.


Because archival material is not indexed by subject, author or title, use of the record series, box numbers, and folder titles are necessary for the location of material cited.  Information on how to cite materials from the Archives can be found in the ALA Archives Citation Guidelines.

Reference Services

The Archives provides one half-hour reference service for inquiries, and up to 10 complementary pages of scans, not including high-resolution photograph scans or other specialized imaging. Any reference work required beyond this must be secured through hiring a research assistant.

Onsite Research

Researchers must agree to abide by the rules of the Reading Room, including no bags, food or drink, or use of pens for taking notes. Detailed regulations are documented in the University of Illinois Archives User Regulations. Onsite researchers must also complete our ALA Archives User Application form.

Digital Camera Policy

The Archives permits use of handheld personal digital cameras (phones and tablets included) in the Reading Room. Personal scanners, tripods, or flash photography are not permitted.

Duplication Services

One self-service scanner is available in the Reading Room, Archives staff reserves the right limit scanning time if there are several researchers who need to scan, if materials are deemed too fragile to scan, or if they are photographic materials including prints, negatives, and slides. If you are unable to visit the Archives, it is possible for staff to copy requested items at a fee.

Users must complete and sign the Agreement on Duplicating Textual Archival and Manuscript Materials form before copying archival materials. This form provides written assurance that no document will be reproduced without the permission of the writers or their legal representatives and the Executive Director of the American Library Association or the Archivist.  Permission to copy will normally be granted upon receipt of such assurance, provided no restrictions against copying the materials are imposed by the writer, the donor, or the American Library Association.

Use of photographic material is subject to the general guidelines of the University of Illinois Archives.  Prior to copying audiovisual materials, all persons must complete the Agreement to Conditions form.

Costs associated with photographic, image, and textual duplication requests are documented in the University of Illinois Archives Fee Schedule.


Permission to examine or to copy archival material does not convey the right to publish or reproduce the material. Publication privileges may be secured upon the joint authorization of the Executive Director of the American Library Association or the Archivist and the holder of the copyright and, in some instances, the donor of the material. The copyright holders may be the writers, their heirs or assigns, their legal representatives, or the American Library Association. The University of Illinois Archives assumes no responsibility for the infringement of copyrights held by the original authors, creators, or producers of materials.

Permission to publish will ordinarily be granted by the Executive Director or the Archivist provided that it meets accepted standards of scholarship and written permission is secured from the copyright holder.

Where permission to publish is granted, the applicant agrees a) to indicate in the published work that the original is located in the Archives of the American Library Association; b) to assume full and complete responsibility for any infringement of copyright or literary rights that may grow out of use or publication of the material.

Fair Use and Public Domain

The Archives cannot advise researchers on fair use terms and researchers must make their own determination if fair use applies to their work, however there are several resources with further information. Below are links on fair use, copyright terms, and public domain in the United States: