General Use & Service Policies

Students, faculty, researchers, and members of the community are welcome to use most Special Collections & University Archives material. However, that material must be used in the Special Collections reading room with SC&UA personnel present. SC&UA materials do not circulate. Most material may be photocopied or scanned subject always to donor restrictions, copyright law, and the condition of the material (see expanded discussion below). The reading room has convenient electrical outlets for laptop computers and cameras. Please ask a staff member for assistance if you wish to make scans or photocopies.

Patrons may conduct their own research by using material in the Archives reference area near the east end of the reading room. Copies of UNI student newspapers, yearbooks, catalogues, budgets, alumni magazines, and an information file are located in this area.

Special Collections staff provides service:

  • by email (
  • by telephone (319-273-6307)
  • by mail (Special Collections, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa, 1227 W. 27th Street, Cedar Falls, Iowa 50613)
  • and you can schedule an appointment with SC&UA staff and / or to visit the reading room via LibCal

In the case of quick fact-checking, the forms of communication noted above may be sufficient. However, a personal visit generally produces the most satisfactory results for all but the most basic research.

We are happy to help you identify resources and information and to use the materials in our collections. Given limited resources and staffing, some requests may take over two weeks to complete, and we are unable to provide ongoing, in-depth research assistance to individuals. For some complex research requests or in cases where you are unable to visit SC&UA in person, you may need to hire an independent researcher. We appreciate your patience and cooperation.

Please respect a librarian, archivist, or assisting staff member's evaluation of an item as too fragile, confidential, restricted, or otherwise unsuitable for use or access. Such conditions are often detailed in the Conditions Governing Access and / or Technical Access fields in a collection's finding aid.

Researchers may also find this SC&UA intro guide useful, as it provides an overview of the collections and some general search strategies for finding and using materials within SC&UA.

We are happy to provide instruction sessions on primary source literacy and various topics utilizing SC&UA materials! If you wish to schedule an instruction session with the university archivist, please email her directly at to begin coordination. We appreciate two weeks' notice to schedule and prepare for such sessions.

Preferred Citation

Adapt for each collection / series accordingly.

  • [Identification of item], in the [Series / Collection Title], [folder and / or box number or title when applicable], #[series number],  [Collection Name], Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa.
  • Example: "Kindergarten," undated, in the University of Northern Iowa Photograph Collections, folder PLS 2,  #23, University Archives, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa.
  • Example: "1992 Annual Report," in the Curriculum & Instruction Brochures and Announcements collection, box 1, folder 2, #13/02/01, University Archives, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa.
  • Example: Voter wagon newspaper clipping, in the Black Hawk-Bremer League of Women Voters Records,  box 5, "Voter service" folder, #MsC-11, Manuscripts Collection, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa.

Reproductions and Copyright Policy

Reproductions Policy:

Most material currently open for research in the Rod Library Special Collections and University Archives may be reproduced (by way of photocopy, digitization, digital photography, etc.), though fees may be involved (see Fees Schedule, effective Fall 2017). We are also happy to email digitized or born-digital copies of an item to long-distance patrons upon request, though please note that this process incurs additional fees. In cases where we digitize materials for patrons, we will send the requested files electronically. The files will be available for patrons to download for 90 days; it is the patron's responsibility to retrieve the files within that timeframe.

To initiate your reproduction request, please fill out this form and return it to the reference desk in the SC&UA reading room or email

Regarding reproductions of Special Collections & University Archives materials, we do ask that you respect the following conditions:

  • Given our resources, we can fulfill requests of up to 10 scans or copies per patron per week. For example, this means digital reproductions of 10 photographs, slides, pages from a report, etc. 
  • Cite Special Collections and University Archives, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa as the source of the information, wherever and however you may use it next (see our preferred citation above, and the "More Resources" tab in the Copyright LibGuide)
  • Please note that it is the patron's, not the library's, responsibility to determine copyright restrictions, publication restrictions or licensing, model release rights, and subsequent fair use of any and all intellectual property accessed through Rod Library Special Collections & University Archives. We are not responsible for unlawful or contested use of materials currently under copyright.
  • Please note that permission to publish material to which the university does own copyright (e.g. university publications or newsletters) does not convey, authorize, or imply exclusive rights to the item in question. In every instance, the university fully retains its own right to publish material and reserves its right to authorize others to do so.
  • Please respect a librarian, archivist, or assisting staff member's evaluation of an item as too fragile, confidential, restricted under known copyright license, or otherwise unsuitable for reproduction in any given format. We reserve the right to refuse reproduction on reasonable grounds, to insist that patrons stop photographing or scanning materials at any time, and/or to remove all reproductive devices from the reading room at any time.
  • We also reserve the right to limit the number of copies made or requested by each patron. This right to limit reproduction also extends to how much of a given book, item, or collection patrons will be permitted to reproduce. The extent of an item or collection that may be copied will be determined on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration such factors as condition, value, uniqueness, confidentiality, and size, among others.
  • Please pay all relevant fees prior to receiving your reproductions (see Fees Schedule, effective Fall 2017).
  • Digital cameras, including cell phone cameras, are permitted and may be used to reproduce materials at no additional cost, provided that patrons observe the conditions below:
    • No flash photography.
    • The camera may not touch, move, or push along the page. Such hand-held scanners are not considered cameras under this policy and are not permitted.
    • The patron must sign a reproduction permissions form.
    • The patron understands that this free photography is for private research purposes only, and that the photographs may not be published or circulated anywhere else, including personal webpages, blogs, social media, or text messaging.
    • Any photograph of archival material which is reproduced in an academic assignment or in UNI course materials (e.g. a lecture PowerPoint or class handout), must be cited and given attribution, though there is still no charge.
    • Note: Similar consideration may be given on a case-by-case basis to community members who are current school teachers (public, private, or homeschool) or students under 18 and who wish to use photographs of archival material for educational purposes only, provided they, too, cite and give proper attribution.
    • Photography intended for publication, commercial and/or academic, or for public display (e.g. in an exhibit or conference poster) must be cleared though the department head, must be given proper attribution, and will be treated as "Digital Imaging" under the fees schedule (effective Fall 2017).
  • If and when requested, please sign a consent form, acknowledging that you have read and understood the library's reproduction and copyright policy. We reserve the right to disallow reproduction of our materials in the instance that any given party refuses to sign.
  • Please do not remove items from the Special Collections reading room at any time in the process of reproducing them, or for any other reason, without express permission from the division head. Any attempt to do so will be treated as an act of theft.

Copyright Statement

Many items housed in the Rod Library Special Collections and University Archives, including unpublished images and manuscripts, may be protected by copyright, publication rights, trademarks, or model release rights which the library does not own and for which the library cannot grant permission or licensing. Materials currently under copyright are usually still available for research and limited reproduction under Fair Use laws. However, it is the sole responsibility of the patron to determine whether or not their use of a given material falls within Fair Use guidelines and to obtain permission for said use from the rightful copyright owner. If you are unsure where to begin, please consult the Copyright LibGuide. While we are happy to assist with copyright research, please note that it is not the library's responsibility to locate or contact copyright holders for a patron, and neither the library nor library employees are responsible for copyright violations of the materials to which they facilitate research access.

Both this Reproductions and Copyright Policy (effective Spring 2017) and the associated Fees Schedule (effective Fall 2017) have been approved by the Rod Library Dean's Advisory Group. Please direct all questions or concerns to Jaycie Vos, Special Collections Coordinator and University Archivist ( and Theresa Westbrock, Dean of Library Services (

Note on Fee Use

Any and all fees collected in relation to reproduction of Special Collections and University Archives materials will apply directly towards materials preservation and collection development initiatives within the Rod Library Special Collections and University Archives unit. They will not be used for any other purpose.