Policies and Procedures

Using the Collections

Our collections are open to all—faculty, staff, students, and the public. Researchers who wish to use departmental materials need not make an appointment unless they require in-depth reference assistance or consultation. All visitors are required to observe the reading room and collection usage policies set forth by SCA staff.

Reading Room Policies

  • SCA staff will provide reference service only and cannot do research for patrons.
  • All researchers using our collections must agree to SCA policies and provide minimal contact information that is used for internal recordkeeping.
  • Call slips must be completed for each publication title or archival box requested. A maximum of 10 items are allowed per researcher at any one time. Requests for materials, copies, or scans are not accepted after 3:30 p.m.
  • SCA materials do not circulate; all materials must be used in designated spaces and staff are to be notified when you are finished with them. We are also happy to hold materials for you over several days of research, once paged.
  • All coats, backpacks, bags, etc. are to be left in the reception area in the coat rack. Laptops must be removed from their cases for use, and the cases left in the coat rack area. Visitors concerned about security for their personal items may request that items be held in the Curator’s office as an alternative.
  • Pencils must be used at all times. Pens and other permanent writing implements are not permitted. Laptops, however, are welcome. SCA materials are not to be marked in any way.
  • Smoking, food, and beverages are prohibited in all SCA public areas, including during receptions and other special events.
  • Please handle materials carefully—many of our collections are quite fragile—and with clean hands. Cotton gloves are only required when handling photographic materials or metal or ivory objects. Materials must be kept on Reading Room tables at all times. Book supports are to be used with materials whenever appropriate, at the direction of SCA staff. Loose documents are to be kept in the order they are found.
  • Our materials require special care. Photocopying is done by SCA staff only, at their discretion, for $0.25 per page. Requests for five or less copies are free. We reserve the right to refuse to copy any material.

Class and Group Visits

We welcome campus and community groups, and class visits at all academic levels, from elementary school through graduate school and beyond. Requests for class and group visits must be completed 14 days prior to your planned visit. In your request also include the number of students in your class and the list of materials you would like made available. SCA staff can help finalize the list. Instructors assume responsibility for the materials during the sessions.

Arrangements must be made in advance if the instructor wishes for the SCA staff to participate in the session. Contact the Rare Books Librarian with the goals for the session in addition to the information requested above. With your input, we happily create presentations to suit your syllabus or lesson plans.


Policies and fees for copying materials held by the SCA have been established to assure the preservation of rare, original, and valuable materials, allow reasonable copying by researchers, and provide as much service as is possible given a small staff with limited resources. In every case, the SCA reserves the right to refuse to copy any item. Some materials may be too fragile to be copied or cannot be done because it violates donor agreements.

In every case, the decision to copy any item is at the discretion of SCA staff. Copies are made for research and reference only. SCA staff will not select the materials to be copied for researchers. Researchers are limited to two hundred copies per collection per year. Patrons are not permitted to photocopy SCA materials as they require special handling. RBSC staff will make photocopies of materials in the collections for researchers working in the reading room for twenty-five cents ($0.25) per page. OneCards, Copy Cards, or checks under $5.00 are not accepted.

Mail requests must be specific and are limited to one hour research time. Researchers requesting copies by mail or fax are charged a flat fee of $5.00 to cover duplication, postage, and handling for orders of 10 pages or less and twenty-five cents ($0.25) for each additional page. Checks should be made out to Northern Illinois University. Members of the Horatio Alger Society who are requesting copies of items held in the SCA are not subject to these charges. Copies from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) Manuscript Collection are prohibited.

Scanning and Digital Reproduction

Personal scanners are not permitted. Items can be digitally scanned by the Library's digitization unit to your specifications. There is no charge for non-profit use. Requests for digital copies are to be done through the Digitization Request page. A copy of all scanned images remain with the SCA and may be added to our digital collections. All images used from Rare Books and Special Collections should bear the credit line, “Northern Illinois University Special Collections and Archives.”

Researchers may use digital cameras on site with prior arrangement at the discretion of SCA staff. If approved, researchers are prohibited from using flash photography. Photographs of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) Manuscripts Collections are prohibited.

Publishing and Copyright

Reproductions from photographs, transparencies, or negatives in the SCA’s collections will be made by the university’s photographic services department according to a schedule of prices it sets. Please allow 7-10 working days for reproductions. There is no charge for non-profit use in publications or exhibits by non-profit agencies. The SCA charges $40 per photograph reproduced for commercial use in books, serials, exhibits, calendars, posters, and the like. All images used from the should bear the credit line, “Northern Illinois University Special Collections and Archives.”

In some instances, the SCA is not the copyright holder for its materials. It is the responsibility of the patron to adhere to all applicable copyright law when seeking permission to publish. Scans requested for exclusive use are handled on a case-by-case basis. Please contact us for details.

It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure permission to publish material from the SCA Department. The researcher also assumes responsibility for possible infringement of copyright and/or literary property rights in the act of copying or in the subsequent use of materials.

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