UC Berkeley Library

Conditions of Use

Content section: 

Using The Bancroft Library and Its Collections

General Rules

Entering and Exiting the Library

Using the Reading Room

Using Cameras

Handling Materials

Using Online Collections

Using The Bancroft Library and Its Collections

The Bancroft Library welcomes researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, from California, and from around the world. We are a non-circulating library, so all materials must be consulted in the Heller Reading Room. Bancroft materials are unique or rare, and some are in fragile condition. Researchers must handle all materials with care, to avoid loss or damage, and follow these conditions of use, which are designed to protect Bancroft collections while providing the best possible access to our researchers. The Aeon online registration form constitutes an agreement by the researcher to comply with the Library's stated policies for use of its materials.

Bancroft Library researchers must be at least 18 years old, or graduated from high school, or be accompanied by an adult.

Bancroft staff are available to answer questions about our procedures and to otherwise assist researchers. For further information, please contact us.

General Rules

1. Bancroft Library collections are non-circulating. The Reading Room is reserved for the use of Bancroft materials only.

2. No ink may be used in the Reading Room. Pencils are available in the Reading Room. Computers, tablets, and phones (turned to silent mode) may be used.

3. Containers are not permitted in the Reading Room. Researchers may bring one notebook, one binder, or one pad of paper—all without loose sheets or pockets—or up to three sheets of loose paper. Property passes for materials carried into the Reading Room are available at the Security Desk—please ask Security staff. Personal belongings, including coats and umbrellas, must be stored in the lockers—operated by a refundable quarter.

4. All personal items taken out of the Reading Room must be submitted for inspection at the Registration Desk and Security Desk upon departure. This includes opening laptop computers.

5. Cameras are permitted under the conditions listed below. Scanners are not permitted.

6. Eating, drinking, chewing gum, and smoking are prohibited.

7. When the Reading Room reaches capacity a waitlist will be enacted.  Your seat may be forfeited if you leave the Reading Room for 30 minutes or more and the Reading Room reaches capacity in your absence.

8. Researchers are expected to abide by the Library Code of Conduct. The Bancroft Library is under camera surveillance.

Entering and Exiting the Library

1. Only materials needed for research may be taken into the Reading Room. Please leave all other personal items in lockers located near Bancroft’s entrance. Our lockers are coin-operated—they accept quarters, which are refunded when you retrieve your belongings.

2. All items taken into and out of the Reading Room must be submitted for inspection both at the Security Desk and at the Registration Desk. Laptops must be opened for inspection.

3. Researchers are welcome to use laptop computers, tablets, and similar computing devices, as well as tape recorders and personal cameras, but please note that scanners are not permitted.

4. Researchers may bring the following paper items inside:

  • Up to THREE sheets of loose paper (scratch paper is available for your use in the Reading Room)
  • One notebook OR pad of paper (without pockets)

5. Containers are not permitted. All folders, binders, envelopes, boxes, cases, bags, and other containers must be stored in the lockers. Wallets are permitted if they do not exceed 5x4 inches.

6. Outerwear (including jackets and coats) and umbrellas must be stored in the lockers.

Using the Reading Room

1. The Registration Desk will issue researchers a Daily Reader Card once signed in for the day. Be sure to print your name on the card and present the card at the Registration Desk each time you re-enter the Reading Room. At the end of the day, the Registration Desk will collect the card.

2. All Bancroft materials must remain on the surface of the table. Reading Room staff will provide book cradles, book weights (“snakes”) to hold pages open, and/or gloves, when appropriate. When in doubt about proper handling, please consult Reading Room staff. We are happy to help.

3. Never mark, erase, or alter Bancroft materials. Always leave them as you found them.

4. Archival documents and other loose material require special care. Please maintain the order and arrangement in which you find them. If you suspect a problem, please alert the Reference Desk.

5. Only one folder from a box of archival materials may be removed at one time. Place the Out Card at the location from which you removed the folder.

6. Do not hold books open with anything other than book snakes. Snakes are available at the Circulation Desk. Never lean on Bancroft materials.

7. Be sure to return all materials to the Circulation Desk 15 minutes before closing time.

Using Cameras

1. All photographs must be for personal research use only.  Photographs taken in the Reading Room may not be published, posted online, donated or sold to another repository, or exhibited. Researchers interested in acquiring high-resolution, publishable images can learn more about options under Duplication Services.

2. Researchers are responsible for complying with copyright law.  You agree to indemnify and hold harmless The Bancroft Library, its agents, and employees, against all claims, demands, costs, and expenses incurred by copyright infringement or any other legal or regulatory cause of action arising from the use of these photographs.

3. Hand-held cameras and cell phones (in airplane mode) may be used. No scanners, laptop cameras, or ancillary devices may be used, including tripods, video cameras, camera bags, flash functionality or lights, copy stands, extension cords, audio components, stools.

4. Handle all materials with care.  Material may not be held up by hand and must remain on the table or appropriate book cradles.  Reading Room staff may assist in positioning the item such that it is fully supported.  Furniture may not be rearranged.  Patrons may not stand on chairs or tables. Bancroft staff reserves the right to advise proper use of materials at any time.

  • Archival materials must be photographed in their folder, keeping their order intact.  Multiple sheets may not be removed to photograph in a single shot.
  • Books cannot be laid flat, opened more than their spines will easily allow, or pushed down to flatten them.
  • Material may not be folded or removed from sleeves or mats.  Staff can assist when fasteners must be removed.

5. Only photograph collection items.  Do not photograph Library staff, the Reading Room, or other researchers.  Take care not to disturb others.

6. Include a completed citation flag in the frame of each photograph.

Handling Materials

General Handling

  • Keep your hands clean and dry.
  • Place materials on clean table or other flat, elevated surface. Do not put materials on the floor or on your lap.
  • Use carrying cases, folders, and supports such as foam cradles.
  • Do not use staples, adhesive tape, post-its, metal paper clips, ink, thick marking strips, or other non-archival material.
  • Avoid leaning on materials or piling them up.
  • Do not bend, fold, or roll materials flat. This is particularly important for maps and other oversize items.
  • Notify library staff if you see any evidence of insects or rodents, mildew, damp, unusual dirt, or deterioration.
  • Do not attempt to repair material yourself. If you see damage, please ask the Circulation or Reference Desk for a "Comments for Curator" flag to communicate the issue.
  • Bancroft staff reserves the right to advise proper use of materials at any time.

Handling Containers (Boxes and Cartons)

  • Be sure that containers are sitting straight on their bottom sides. Avoid tipping, jostling, dropping, or positioning containers on their end.
  • Do not use weakened or torn hand holes.
  • Support folders with hands at both sides when removing from container to prevent contents from spilling out. Do not place full folders on end.
  • Carry one item at a time.
  • Align sheets within folders so that ends are not protruding beyond the protection of the folder.
  • Flat boxes should always be carried and used flat.

Handling Bound Volumes

  • Use only paper as a bookmark.
  • Never force open a book with a tight binding. Do not stack opened books or place them face down.
  • Avoid touching the surface of ink, paint, or gold leaf. Especially on vellum, ink can chip or be rubbed off.
  • Turn pages at their outer edges.
  • If you encounter unopened pages (where the folds in the gatherings are still connected, preventing the turning of single pages), please alert the Reference Desk. The Reference Desk will then alert the Curator of Rare Books or the Deputy Director.
  • Be aware of the condition of the books you are handling. Even new-looking books may be at risk: e.g., perfect-bound books with pages that are simply glued into the spine and that can easily pop out when not handled with care.

Handling Pictorial Materials

  • Use gloves when handling negatives, transparencies, and all unprotected pictorial material.
  • Hold a print, drawing, or photograph, even when mounted, at its sides with both hands.
  • Touch only the edges of photoprints, never the image itself.
  • Keep pictorial materials flat; do not flex them.
  • Limit movement, shifting, and stacking of images within folders or containers. Carry boxes by supporting them at the bottom.
  • Use care in handling accopress binders of photos: Images may be unsecured or too close to the binding hardware, and cardboard-mounted photographs may be in danger of flexing.
  • Please note: Pictorial staff must assist in the handling of at-risk or restricted pictorial material.

Using Online Collections

The Bancroft Library is committed to making our digital collections available for private study, scholarship, teaching, and research.

Some materials in Bancroft collections may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) and/or restricted by terms of University of California gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions, privacy and publicity rights, licensing, and trademarks. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owner. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

The Library retains high resolution digital files for most online collections. For information about obtaining reproductions of Bancroft materials, please visit the Duplication Services page. If you are interested in commercial use or publication of our collection materials, please visit our Rights and Permissions page for further information.

We are dedicated to protecting the rights of creators and copyright holders, and are always interested in learning more about the materials in Bancroft collections. If you have specific information about collections posted by The Bancroft Library, please contact us at bancref@library.berkeley.edu.