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University Archives & Special Collections

Website for the Denison University Archives & Special Collections

Access and Use Policy

Every effort is made to make sure that researchers are able to use the University Archives & Special Collections to further their education and scholarship.  However, in some cases, archival materials may not be readily accessible and usable.  These restrictions come in many varieties, but they are generally legally related, classified, sensitive, or mandated by the government (i.e., FERPA).  

Here is a short list of possible reasons why materials in the Denison Archives may be unavailable:

  • Privacy: Some materials have sensitive information for a variety of reasons.  Some examples include: current or recent institutional records or the existence of personally identifiable information.  In some cases, we may be able to redact the sensitive information, but in some cases we may not be able to provide access to them all together.

  • Unprocessed collections: If archival collections have not yet been cataloged and included in the main collection, they may be unavailable for access.  This is to prevent us from losing or damaging materials that we don't know about yet.

  • Fragile condition: If the materials are simply be too fragile to be handled by researchers, we may have restricted access to them or we may ask you to wear gloves. This is particularly important when dealing with photographs or rare books.

  • Alumni transcripts: All requests for archived transcripts should go through the Alumni Relations office. Read more here:‚Äč.

  • Technical access restrictions: Some materials may require certain equipment to be access, such as a microfilm reader, cassette player, or other technical instrument.  The Archives will make every effort to obtain the correct equipment, but in the event that the equipment is unavailable, the materials may be unavailable for access.

  • Materials on loan: In rare cases, we may loan materials to other institutions for exhibit or to originating offices for their records. If this is the case, the materials may not be accessible in the Archives or researchers may be directed to the place of exhibit to see the materials.

  • Restrictions beyond our control: Some materials may be legally restricted due to terms of gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions, privacy and publicity rights, licensing, and trademarks.

Patrons who believe that information in the restricted files will be of use in their research may email the University Archivist and Special Collections Librarian to request access to the restricted files, indicating the purpose of research and a description of use, which will be evaluated on an individual basis. 

Copyright and Use

Rights in historical, archival and digital collections may be difficult or impossible to determine.  A copyright holder has the right to control the use, reproduction, and distribution of those works, as well as the ability to benefit from works monetarily and otherwise. Archival repositories must abide by these laws, which can be complex. Even if the Archives physically owns a particular document, we may not own the copyright.

The Archives & Special Collections offers broad public access to our collections as a contribution to education and scholarship. Some materials in these collections may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). In addition, the reproduction of some materials may be restricted by terms of 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 Archives & Special Collections is eager to hear from any copyright owners who are not properly identified so that the appropriate information may be provided in the future.  

If you intend to use or reproduce materials, it’s important that you have a conversation with the archivist, especially if ti is for commercial purposes. 

Loaning Materials

Archives & Special Collections traditionally does not loan or circulate items that belong in the permanent collection.  Items may be accessed in the Research Room during an appointment or open research hours.  There are some exceptions to this, however:

  • Records from an originating office:  For some institutional records, we may return some files to the originating office upon request, such as a personnel file going back to HR.  This is an important function of records management and can be vital to the support of institutional functions.
  • Exhibit loans:  If another library, archives, museum, or gallery would like to borrow material to enhance their exhibit on a shared topic, we may loan our archival materials.  If you are interested in requesting materials for loan, please contact the University Archivist & Special Collections Librarian.
  • Curriculum use: If a faculty would like to request to use archival materials for their courses, this may restrict public use to the same materials.  

Denison Libraries, 100 W College, Granville, Ohio 43023
Phone: 740-587-6235, email:
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