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. We encourage you to contact us in advance of your visit so that we may place material on hold for you. Some material is stored at our Library Shelving Facility, requiring 48 hours advance notice to consult.

  • Most Special Collections materials are available for research, 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 in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. Contact the Office of the Registrar for more information.)

    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 contact us to request access to restricted records. 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.

  • 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. Reproductions are provided for private study, scholarship, or research. Providing reproductions does not imply permission to publish or otherwise use material in excess of "fair use."

    Reproduction rates and formats

    Williams students, staff, faculty and alumni Other researchers
    Self-service pdf or jpg scans in our reading room Free of charge, subject to limitations Free of charge, subject to limitations
    Color pdf or jpg from overhead scanner Free of charge, subject to limitations First 50 images free, otherwise$1 per scanned image
    High resolution jpg or tiff from camera Free of charge, subject to limitations $20 per image capture
    Audiovisual files Free of charge, subject to limitations $40 and up, depending on format

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

  • 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.

  • A Bookeye scanner is available for self-service in the Weber Special Collections reading room. We also allow 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 a case-by-case 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
  • For any use of the materials, we request that you cite Williams Special Collections as the source of the original material with the credit line below that corresponds to the appropriate collection:

    • Williams College Archives
    • Chapin Library, Williams College