Access and Use Policies

The rare books, manuscripts, and college records in Special Collections are acquired and preserved in order to support research in all areas of the Williams curriculum, and document the college’s history. You do not need to be affiliated with Williams in order to use our collections.

  • Access to Collections

    Most Special Collections materials are available for research without limitation, with exceptions for restricted College Records, for example:

    • Board of Trustee records (restricted for 50 years from date of creation)
    • Presidential papers and records (restricted for 50 years from date of creation)
    • Office of Human Resources records (restricted for 30 years from date of earlier of employee retirement, death or departure)
    • Office of Human Resources Presidents records (restricted for 150 years after death)
    • Student records (permanently restricted, contact the Office of the Registrar)

    Individual offices and departments, donors, or creators of records occasionally impose additional restrictions as needed. Restricted records are available for review by authorized staff from the office of origin, or by individuals designated in a deed of gift. You may request access to restricted records by contacting us [link here -ES]. We will consider your request in consultation with appropriate College officers. Subpoenas or other legal processes involving access to restricted records will be referred to College Counsel.

  • Reproductions

    Reproduction requests are considered on a case by case basis depending on the condition and size of the material, and the quantity of images requested. Some items may be too fragile or too large to be scanned or photographed. Complete works created after 1900 are typically not copied in accordance with United States copyright law.

    Reproduction rates and formats

    Williams students, staff, faculty and alumni Other researchers
    PDF Free of charge, subject to limitations $1 per scanned image
    High resolution jpg or tiff (minimum 300 ppi unless otherwise specified) Free of charge, subject to limitations $20 per image
    Photocopies Not typically provided. [link here -ES] Contact staff for further information. Not typically provided. Contact staff for further information.

    Typical turnaround time for reproduction requests is three weeks. All payments must be in USD (United States Dollar). Cash and check payments may be made in person and we do not accept credit cards. For long-distance requests, only checks are accepted and they must be payable to Williams College and drawn on a US bank. Images will be delivered upon receipt of payment.

  • Interlibrary Loan

    Special Collections materials do not circulate, nor are they lent on interlibrary loan. The Library can, however, provide images from some of its holdings, depending on the magnitude of the request and the condition and dimensions of each item. Interlibrary loan requests should be made through the Williams Libraries.

  • Use of personal cameras

    Williams Special Collections allows you to use personal cameras and scanners to create images of material, subject to the following conditions:

    • All requests must be approved by staff on an item-by-item or collection-by-collection basis
    • Only digital cameras, tablet cameras, cell phones, or flatbed scanners may be used
    • Unless permitted by staff, you may not stand on chairs or rearrange furniture to get a better image, and must remain facing forward. Please confer with staff regarding the use of tripods, flash, or special lighting. Audible features on cameras must be turned off. Staff will designate work locations for using cameras or scanners.
    • All materials must be handled carefully. Staff are available to assist you. Bound volumes must be supported in a book cradle, or as otherwise directed by staff; pressure must not be applied to bindings. Unbound material must be kept in order. Mylar must not be removed without permission from staff. You may be required to use a streamer/transparency to indicate origin of the material.
    • It is your responsibility to keep complete and accurate citations (complete location information or accession/call number) for all items photographed or scanned
    • No pictures may be taken of other researchers, staff, or visitors without their express permission
    • Staff reserve the right to deny requests or to revoke photographic/scanning privileges

  • Crediting Williams Special Collections

    For any use of the materials, you must cite Williams Special Collections as the source of the original material with the credit line below that corresponds to the appropriate collection:

    • College Archives and Special Collections, Williams College
    • Chapin Library, Williams College