Permissions and publishing

Publishing and reusing materials from the Library’s collections

It is not necessary to seek the Library’s permission as the owner of the physical work to publish or otherwise use materials from collections. This applies whether your use is non-commercial or commercial. For Special Collections materials, we do ask as a courtesy that you credit the Library as the holder of the original materials in the forms described below, as reasonably possible given the context of your use.

However, the Library’s consent as the owner of physical or digital copies of any given work does not address copyright or other legal issues that may affect publication or other re-use of these materials. Copyrights in Library materials are typically owned by third parties, and it is the sole responsibility of the user or recipient of copies of Special Collections and other Library materials to investigate the copyright status of any given work and to seek and obtain permission where needed prior to any distribution or publication.

Any use of Special Collections images or materials is subject to the user or recipient’s agreement to indemnify and hold harmless the University of Virginia, its officers, employees and agents from and against all suits, claims, actions and expenses. By your use of these materials, you agree to these responsibilities, including the noted legal protections of the University of Virginia.

The Library sometimes includes a Rights Statement (such as “InC – In Copyright”) or a Creative Commons license (such as “CC-BY”) in the catalog information for items in its collections. You can learn more about rights statements at, and about Creative Commons licenses at While we hope this information is useful to you, the Library makes no warranties about the items that carry license or rights information and cannot guarantee the accuracy of any Rights Statement or Creative Commons license information. You are responsible for your own use.

If questions arise concerning the small number of collections for which the University of Virginia does own copyright (generally noted in the catalog records or online guides) or for materials in the University Archives, please contact Special Collections.

Further, some library donors have placed restrictions on the use of Special Collections materials that must be honored. Such restrictions are generally noted in the catalog records or online guides to Special Collections materials, and Library staff will provide informational assistance in these cases.

Special Collections no longer provides signed letters of permission or signs other permission forms.

How to cite

Special Collections must always be cited as the source of text or images when published or otherwise distributed. In general, Special Collections materials should be cited as:

 [title of work or collection name], Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library,
University of Virginia

Items from the Barrett or McGregor libraries should be cited as:

[title of work or collection name], Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature,
Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia

[title of work or collection name], Tracy W. McGregor Library of American History,
Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia

If you have any questions concerning the proper citation or description of materials in Special Collections, please contact us.

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. The Special Collections Department reserves the right to refuse to accept a duplication request if, in its judgment, fulfillment of the request would involve violation of copyright law.

Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be “used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research.” Reproductions may not be made for or donated to other Repositories. If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of “fair use,” that user may be liable for copyright infringement. In most cases, the library is not the holder of copyright for the materials held in its collection. The library cannot grant permission for uses of material that fall outside of fair use. Instead, the responsibility falls on the user to obtain that permission.

Copyright law protects unpublished as well as published materials. If you wish to use either published or unpublished materials from our collections in a publication, you must determine whether the work has passed into the public domain and is no longer under copyright protection, find the copyright holders and get permission to use the material, or determine whether your use is protected by fair use or another limitation or exception to copyright.

Read more in the Library’s policy about Inquiries or Concerns About Items in Our Collections.