Digital camera/smartphone use in the Rare Books Reading Room

The Los Angeles Public Library's Rare Books Room allows the use of digital cameras or smartphones in order to meet the research needs of our users. Copyright, collection restrictions, and preservation needs determine if an item can be photographed.


Staff reserve the right to make decisions on a case-by-case basis. Fragile, damaged, or restricted items may not be duplicated or photographed. The Library reserves the right to deny permission to photograph collection materials.


  • Always obtain permission from staff before taking photographs.
  • Personal scanners, tripods and flashes are prohibited.
  • Photographs taken are for personal reference and research only.
  • Use of any photo or image created from collection materials for publication or commercial use may incur a use fee. Please consult staff.
  • Materials should be handled properly and with great care. Please do not fold pages. If you encounter any uncut pages (please do not open uncut pages yourself) or damage to the material, please inform staff.
  • Bound volumes must be supported in a book cradle with no pressure applied to the binding. Snakes or weights may be used and are available.
  • Items archivally housed in mylar may not be removed from their sleeves.


Who holds the copyright? In many cases, the Los Angeles Public Library does not hold the copyright to materials in its collections and therefore cannot grant or deny permission to publish them, nor do we assume responsibility for determining their copyright status. If the work is not in the public domain, it is the responsibility of the researcher to secure permission from the appropriate copyright holder to publish or quote from items in our collections. 

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Researchers using a camera to copy library and archive materials are liable for any infringement.

If using photographs of public domain images in a publication, please credit as follows: "Courtesy Los Angeles Public Library Special Collections."

Need more information on copyright?

For help in researching or determining copyright, refer to this helpful guide.