Special Collections Policies

We have several policies guiding the access and use of our materials.

Reproduction Requests

Patrons may request physical or digital copies of materials held by Special Collections and Archives. Generally, copies are provided free of charge, within reason. Reproduction requests that total less than 25 pages, require a low resolution for scanning, are easily handled in a flatbed scanner, and are in stable condition should be provided at no charge. Items that are bound may require equipment not immediately available in Special Collections and Archives and may delay fulfillment of a request.

When a reproduction request exceeds the parameters listed above, it may be appropriate to assess a reproduction fee. Again, a $25 fee will be assessed in half-hour increments. Examples of reproduction requests that may necessitate a fee include scanning very large or fragile items, duplicating audio or video materials, or scanning numerous photograph negatives.

An estimate of probable reproduction fees will be provided to a patron in advance of any work being completed. In general, if the time needed to complete a request exceeds the estimate, Special Collections and Archives representatives should not assess any additional fee. Consultation will be done with the Head of the department.

Special Collections and Archives representatives retain the right to refuse any individual research or reproduction request that interferes with their normal duties. While customer service of great concern to the department, it is not a research firm and cannot accommodate all requests due to staffing limitations.

The issue of copyright ownership is frequently raised in the course of normal use of collection materials. The vast majority of content in the archives was not produced by Special Collections and Archives, and therefore original copyright does not lie with the department. In limited cases copyrights may have been formally transferred to the department by the donor. Additionally, some material may not reside in the public domain based upon its age. In all cases, department representatives will consult the Head of the department regarding copyright. It is the patron’s personal responsibility to locate the copyright owner and secure permissions to reproduce any materials gathered from Spec in the course of their research.

For materials originally produced by the University of Idaho or an employee in the course of their work, a formal request for approval to reproduce will be submitted through the Office of Technology Transfer.

Nearly all materials may be legally protected by copyright laws, even if they were never published or registered with a copyright office. This means that material within this archive may be copyright protected. Though most archival research is personal or scholarly - and so falls into the category of “Fair Use” - it’s important to understand how copyright works and how you can use copyrighted materials. The copyright holder must license the work or give permission to anyone who wants to reproduce, adapt, distribute, display, or transmit it. To be cautious, assume that all creative works - including audio and video recordings, photographs and images, even documents, writing drafts, drawings and sketches - are copyright protected, unless you can prove otherwise. To re-use copyrighted material in your own work, you may need to seek a license or permission to use the work from the copyright holder. It is the responsibility of the user to determine if their intentions fall within Fair Use, who holds the copyright, and how to obtain permissions. The University of Idaho Library is not liable for any violations of the law by users. (Language adapted from University Libraries at University of Colorado Boulder).

The legal exception of Fair Use under copyright law allows for the reproduction of copyrighted works under certain conditions. In general, patron requests can be judged against the following criteria:

MORE LIKELY to be Fair Use:

Content adapted from Amy Dygent, "Copyright services and the university," Society of American Archivists Annual Meeting 2020.

Purpose & Character of Use If the work created is:
  • Educational
  • Transformative
  • Non-profit
Purpose & Character of Original Material If the archival material used is:
  • Factual
  • Non-fiction
  • News
  • Published
Amount of Original Material Used If intended to take from original material:
  • A small amount
  • Only as much as necessary
Effect of Use on Potential Market If:
  • Use has no significant effect on the market
  • Few copies of work are made/distributed
  • Access to work is restricted (to class use, to private server, etc.)
  • Original work is no longer sold, in print, or distrusted

LESS LIKELY to be Fair Use:

Content adapted from Amy Dygent, "Copyright services and the university," Society of American Archivists Annual Meeting 2020.

Purpose & Character of Use If the work created is:
  • Commercial entertainment
  • Verbatim (untransformed)
  • From original
  • Profit-generating
Purpose & Character of Original Material If the archival material used is:
  • Creative
  • Fiction
  • Entertainment
  • Unpublished
Amount of Original Material Used If intended to take from original material:
  • A large amount or entire work
  • More than necessary for educational purposes
Effect of Use on Potential Market If:
  • Work prevents sales of original
  • Work is made broadly available to public
  • Access to work is restricted (to class use, to private server, etc.)
  • Owner/creator of original work requests that users license the material

If you have questions about copyright or our copyright policies, please contact libspec@uidaho.edu.

Citing Materials

Primary sources obtained from Special Collections and Archives should be cited appropriately. Citation formats vary depending upon the discipline, but in general should include author or creator’s name, title of the work or specific item, date of publication or production, publication information, collection title, box and folder number, or photograph number, and the name of the repository.

Please use the following formats when citing archival materials from Special Collections and archives.


Photographer, “Title,” date. Collection name, object ID. University of Idaho Library Special Collections and Archives, Moscow, ID.


Author, Description or “Title” of item, date. Collection name, collection number, box, folder. University of Idaho Library Special Collections and Archives, Moscow, ID.

Offensive Material in Archival Collections

Archival collections can contain language and materials from history that reference beliefs, norms, and values that are no longer (or never were) consistent with those of the University of Idaho. Special Collections and Archives works to describe collections in an inclusive way that is respectful to the communities they represent (created by, created for, created about) and warn users about collections containing materials that may be offensive. This is done by:

  • Flagging discriminatory or offensive content included by creators.
  • Removing or changing discriminatory language used by previous archivists in describing collections.
  • Using inclusive, non-discriminatory language in our current descriptive practice.
  • Committing to a culture of ongoing discussion and continued learning.
  • Aligning our efforts with Library diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

Users are notified when it is known that a collection contains language or imagery that may be offensive. If a collection has such materials a note will be added in the finding aid or on a digital collection’s “About” page.

Content is flagged when it contains:

  • Racial slurs
  • Derogatory or dehumanizing language
  • Language regarding violence
  • Language regarding non-consensual activity (e.g., rape)
  • Sexually explicit images
  • Images depicting gore, violence, or other graphic or offensive content

Due to the vast amount of material held by this repository, not all offensive content can be flagged in advance of patron usage. If a patron believes something should be flagged or changed, they may contact libspec@uidaho.edu for review.

Non-Discriminatory Language

We recognize a difference between creator-supplied and archivist-supplied language. We do not edit language used by a creator in order to maintain an accurate representation of the historical materials and the voices they represent. However, we do edit offensive and discriminatory language used by past archivists when describing materials. To make this distinction clear, we work to include contextual information in our finding aids and digital collections explaining when such language is creator-supplied versus archivist-supplied.

When we edit archivist-supplied language, these changes are noted in the “Processing Note” of the finding aid or on a digital collection’s home page. These notes serve two purposes:

  • to document the history of that individual finding aid or digital collection
  • to document the broader history of archival descriptive practices and how they may have changed over time

Current Descriptive Practices

Following current descriptive best practices, newly processed collections should use inclusive and non-discriminatory language. The following priorities have been set by Special Collections and Archives, informed by the work of peers in the industry.

  • Using active language to “embed responsibility” in our archival descriptions.
  • Prioritizing the “humanity of an individual before their identity/ies”.
  • Describing records to support usability by all information-seekers, not just academic researchers.
  • Respecting and upholding any restrictions to materials made by a community, especially those that “describe and represent esoteric, ceremonial or religious knowledge” important to the community.
  • Adding notices of offensive content or dissenting perspectives in descriptions such as “The [tribal name] finds information in this work inaccurate or disrespectful” as applicable.

If you have questions about this policy, please contact libspec@uidaho.edu.