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 30 minutes of reference services for inquiries, and up to 20 complementary pages of scans, not including high-resolution photograph scans or specialized imaging. Any reference work required beyond this must be secured through hiring a research assistant.

The Archives supports the work and research of ALA units and members doing work on behalf of ALA. Please contact the Archivist to discuss in depth projects.

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.

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.

Digital Camera Policy

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

Duplication Services

If you are unable to visit the Archives, it is possible for staff to copy requested items at a fee. Costs associated with photographic, image, and textual duplication requests are documented in the University of Illinois Archives Fee Schedule.

ALA units or members doing work on behalf of ALA should contact the Archivist directly to discuss duplication services.

PDF Text Scans
The ALA Archives can provide PDF scans of archival materials for educational, research, and personal use. Publication of materials may require additional permissions.

  • Orders of 20 pages and under are free.
  • The Archives charges $18 per half hour of scanning at a rate of 50 pages per half hour.

Users must complete and sign the Agreement on Duplicating Textual Archival and Manuscript Materials form before copying archival materials using AdobeSign, or download as a PDF and return to ala-archives@library.illinois.edu.

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.

Image Orders
The ALA Archives can provide high-resolution copies of photographs and images for educational, research, and personal use. Publication or public display of images may require additional permissions. Images are provided at 600 dpi in a TIFF format. Request for higher resolution scans may involve additional fees.

  • 5 or less high-res database images – Free.
  • 6-10 high-res database images – $2 for every image.
  • New scan – $20 for first image, $2 for each additional image.
  • Large orders of over 10 images (new and database images) – The hourly rate of $36 will be applied.

Users must complete and sign the Agreement to Conditions form for image orders using AdobeSign or downloaded as a PDF and returned to ala-archives@library.illinois.edu. Publication or public display of photographic material is subject to the general guidelines of the University of Illinois Archives.

Orders will not be completed until payment is received. The ALA Archives accepts major credit cards (Visa, MC, AmEx, Disc). A link to securely submit payment information will be provided by the Archives. Please do not send credit card information via e-mail.


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.

For further information about receiving permissions to publish materials under ALA’s copyright, pleasure refer to ALA’s Rights and Permissions Guidelines, which includes the contact information for the Licensing & Permissions Manager.

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: