Houghton Library

Photography and Film Policies

Houghton Library limits photography and filming to preserve its collections and maintain an environment conducive to study and research. Please consult the guidelines for appropriate use, below.

For full information on photography and filming within the Harvard College Library system, please visit hcl.harvard.edu/info/policies/#photos.


Digital Camera Use Policy

The following policy is designed to assist readers with note-taking by permitting limited use of digital cameras. Its continuance depends on readers abiding by the rules and not disrupting the quiet work of fellow readers.

Photographs are for private study, research, or classroom teaching purposes only and cannot be reproduced, transferred, published, or posted on the internet.  Images for publication or distribution must be ordered through the library.

Use of digital cameras is subject to the following conditions:

  • No tripods, camera flashes, or special lighting. Audible features on the camera must be turned off.
  • No pictures may be taken of the room itself, other readers, or the staff.
  • Materials must be handled properly and with great care. Staff will assist with setting up materials according to the following and other guidelines:
    • Bound volumes must be supported in a book cradle; no pressure can be applied to the bindings.
    • Loose manuscript material must remain flat on the table inside its folder and kept in order at all times. If leaves are fastened together, please see desk attendant before proceeding.
  • No more than 50 pages or 20% (whichever is smaller) of any manuscript collection or book can be photographed without curatorial permission. The photography of whole items is not permitted.
  • A Houghton Library or Harvard Theatre Collection tag must be photographed with each item.
  • It is the responsibility of each reader to keep complete and accurate citations (complete call number, including item numbers and/or page numbers) for all items photographed. Requests for permission to quote, or subsequent orders for high-resolution or photographic images, will not be processed without this information.
  • The library reserves the right to deny requests or revoke permission for any reason.

Houghton Library makes materials available for research and scholarship. Users of this material should note that in most cases, the Library does not own the copyright to content in its collections. The United States Copyright Act (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. The reproduction or distribution of copyrighted content is copyright infringement, unless the user has obtained consent from the copyright owner or can otherwise establish a "fair use" or other statutory defense. The user agrees to defend, indemnify, and hold harmless the President and Fellows of Harvard College and its affiliates, employees, faculty members, members of its governing boards and agents harmless from and against any claims, losses, liabilities, damages, costs and expenses including reasonable attorneys' fees arising out of or relating to photo-graphing the Library's materials or user’s use of the photographs, or user's breach of any other provision herein.

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Filming and Recording for Public Use

The Houghton Library's mission is to support and promote research, teaching, and learning, while at the same time preserving our rare and unique collections. Filming and recording on site may be accommodated when:

  1. A Harvard faculty member requests filming as part of their teaching program;
  2. The University or Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) Administration requests filming to promote education and/or teaching with the Harvard collections; or
  3. A request from outside Harvard is for an educational project in which Houghton collections are integral.

Houghton is not available as a background setting for non-educational, non-collection-related projects/promotions.

Space is limited, and the safety and security of Houghton collections are our primary consideration. If filming or audio is approved:

  • All collection material must be handled by Houghton staff, or their designee.
  • The maximum number of cameras is two. (one stationary, one mobile)
  • Additional lighting is not normally allowed on collection material. If additional lighting is approved, the number of people permitted in the room will be reduced.
  • The production team should be limited to four.
  • Classes being filmed can have no more than 10 students.
  • The total number in the group can be no larger than 16.

All requests for filming access should be made at least two weeks in advance. Requests should be directed to Colin Manning (colin_manning@harvard.edu), communications officer for Harvard College Library and FAS Libraries.

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