Using the Collections

University of Oregon, Special Collections and University Archives, Materials Access and Use Policy

The UO Libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) unit is committed to providing open and equitable access to the University’s historical permanent records, to numerous digital collections, and to other valuable resources. To protect and preserve our collections, SCUA carefully regulates the use of unpublished materials in its collections. The following policies and procedures governing access, photoduplication, and publication are designed to balance the needs and rights of researchers (e.g., students, faculty, visiting scholars, community members, etc.), the exclusive rights of copyright holders, and the library’s stewardship responsibilities.

Access and Registration

In order to protect and preserve the collections, materials administered by the department do not circulate, but are available in the department's reading room, or in digital form. Any researcher wishing to use SCUA materials is required to register and establish a User Account, complete and sign a Researcher Registration form, give information about the subject, scope and purpose of the research being undertaken, and agree to this Materials Use Policy. By checking "I Agree,” you acknowledge and agree to all of the terms and conditions below, and to additional terms and conditions attached to specific collections.

Registration lasts for one year. Researchers working onsite must show current photo identification; letters of reference are not required. We may require users of high school age or younger to be accompanied by an adult. SCUA grants all researchers equal access to its collections, subject to uniformly enforced restrictions placed on materials by deed of gift or purchase stipulation, statutory authority, or by SCUA for preservation, processing, or other administrative purposes.

  • Materials must be requested in advance of your visit. Please request materials 5 business days before your intended visit to ensure that materials will be ready for your research. We do not pull materials on demand. Materials already on hold are accessible at any time during our public hours. Please contact us at if you have questions.
  • Any adult may use our collections, anyone under the age of 18 must be closely supervised by an adult.
  • There is no cost for accessing our collections. There are fees for high-resolution scanning and publication permissions.
  • You must make an appointment to see glass-plate negatives, and medieval manuscripts due to special handling requirements. Please contact us at to arrange your visit.
  • Unprocessed/unarranged collections. These collections are not accessible either in-person or through digitization.

Personal property: We have lockers available for your personal belongings (includes, but not limted to, backpacks, briefcases, bags, purses, coats, jackets, hats, scarves). Such items are not allowed in the Paulson Reading Room or the Classroom.  Do not leave spillable containers in the locker with your personal property.  Please remember to return your key.  Any personal property left in a locker will be taken to Lost and Found at the Circulation Desk, ground floor of Knight Library, at the end of the day.  If not claimed in a timely manner, items may be disposed of pursuant to UO’s property disposition rules.

Exiting: Upon completion of your work, you must show staff at the registration desk all items you brought into the Paulson Reading Room to aid you in your research.  This includes laptops, pads of paper, loose sheets of paper, and any reference books. 

No food: No food or beverages, including chewing gum and water, are allowed.

Pencils: Pens are not permitted.  Notes may be taken only with pencil and paper, or on laptop computers.  If you borrow a pencil, please return it.

Monitoring: The Paulson Reading Room is monitored by video cameras for safety and security purposes. 

Electronic devices including cell phones: Please turn off your cell phone ringer and mute your laptops. If you need to make a cell phone call, please do so outside the department.

Location of use: All materials must be used in the Paulson Reading Room or in the Ken Kesey Classroom (applicable to supervised class instruction sessions).

Reading room layout:  All researchers must be seated at a table facing the reference desk.  You may be assigned to a table during periods of high-volume traffic.

Noise: Please be considerate of other researchers by speaking softly and keeping conversations to a minimum.  Please make cell phone calls outside the department.  Please also respect the privacy of other researchers.

Service animals: Following the University of Oregon's policy on service animals, only dogs that have been individually trained to perform tasks for individuals with a disbility are allowed in the Paulson Reading Room.

Handling materials: Please respect the fragile nature of the materials and handle them with care.  Please do not mark in or on them in any way.  Please place pencils on the table while turning pages.  Please be careful not to exert pressure on any material.  All bound items must be placed on supports for viewing. 

Use of materials: Use only one collection or one book at a time. If part of a group or assisting with research only one box per group and one folder per individual from a box at a time. Do not share/pass folder contents.

Handling of manuscripts and archival material: Do not rest an arm on a document or write notes on paper or cards placed on top of a document.

Handling of rare books: Rare books should be handled with extreme care. Please do not place stress on the binding by opening the book a full 180o.  Bound materials must be placed on foam supports for viewing.

Handling of photographs: Please use gloves provided by reference desk staff.

Order of materials: Please retain the order in which materials are placed in boxes.  Use place markers available from desk staff, and remove only one folder at a time.

Returning materials: Return all materials to the desk staff when you leave for the day. Please let desk staff know if you are finished with the materials or if you wish to place them on hold. The registration staff will check computers and notebooks upon departure.

Duplication services: High-resolution scans are available for a charge, pursuant to the condition of the original and any possible copyright or gift restrictions.  Please visit this site for more information.

Personal cameras: Under normal circumstances, we allow researchers to use their own cameras to photograph certain materials. We do not allow the use of supplemental viewing equipment, including, but not limited to, slide viewers, tripods, or personal scanners. Please ask desk staff for the guidelines “Camera Use in the Reading Room.”

Privacy of Materials and Restrictions on Access and Use: Please respect the unpublished nature of the contents of manuscripts and archives. Be aware that disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of Oregon assumes no responsibility. Researchers will defend, indemnify, and hold harmless UO Libraries and the University of Oregon, its Board of Trustees, its officers, employees, and agents against all claims, demands, costs, and expenses, including attorneys’ fees incurred by copyright infringement or any other legal or regulatory cause of action arising from the use of SCUA materials.

Some materials in Special Collections and University Archives may contain sensitive or confidential information protected under federal and/or state privacy laws and regulations. Materials may need to be reviewed by a curator for confidential materials prior to access. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to living individuals may have legal implications. Researchers who find sensitive personal information in any collection should immediately notify a SCUA staff member.  Some examples of this type of information include but may not be limited to:

  • letters of recommendation for students, faculty or staff;
  • personally identifiable information about individual students beyond minimal directory-related information;
  • employment records containing confidential data about personal matters, including faculty tenure and promotion information, and faculty grievances;
  • medical information about individuals; and
  • information about gifts and donors.

University Archives: The University of Oregon Archives holds the permanent historical records of the university. The Archives provides unrestricted access to those permanent university records not exempt from disclosure under the Oregon Public Records Act (ORS 192.001 et seq.) or otherwise protected by state and federal right to privacy laws, including but not limited to FERPA and HIPAA.

Publication, Display, & Distribution

SCUA collections include materials in three broad categories:

  • Items in the public domain – These may be used freely and without restrictions.
  • Items for which the copyright is owned by the University of Oregon – Please contact SCUA staff for permission to use.
  • Items for which the copyright holder is an entity other than the University of Oregon – It is the responsibility of the user to determine copyright status and seek permission from the rights owner(s) where appropriate.

If an individual or entity intends to use copyrighted material in excess of fair use as determined by U.S. copyright law (title 17, United States Code), it is incumbent upon the researcher(s) to seek permission from the copyright holder(s) prior to use. Failure to do so may constitute copyright infringement.

Researchers seeking to publish, display, or distribute any item from SCUA collections are expected to notify SCUA staff using the Notification of Use Form. This enables SCUA staff to collect data necessary for enhancing user access.

Items used must be attributed in a caption, citation, or other appropriate method. The preferred format is:

Identification of item, Date (if known), Collection Title, Collection Number, Box and Folder number [or photo ID number], Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Oregon.

Returning materials: All materials are to be returned to the desk staff when you leave for the day.  Please let desk staff know if you are finished with the materials or if you wish to place them on hold.

Researcher’s responsibility: The researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming to the laws of libel and copyright.

The library reserves the right to refuse service for non-compliance with these rules.