Digital Cameras and Personal Scanners

Library visitors may use personal scanners and digital cameras to make copies from library material, with some exceptions.

What equipment can be used?

All equipment with the exception of flat bed scanners may be used.

The use of flash photography is forbidden at all times.

Where can I use my digital camera or personal scanner?

Some libraries and reading rooms have created specific areas where digital photography and scanning can take place. Please look for signs indicating that you are in the designated area or ask staff.

Other libraries have not set up dedicated areas and will allow these processes anywhere in the library.

Please consult library staff before using your digital camera or personal scanner.

What material can be scanned or photographed?

As a general rule, scanning or photography of material is at the discretion of library staff. Please consult library staff to see if an item is eligible to be copied. You will be asked to fill out the relevant application form.

Are there copyright restrictions?

Yes, see below for the specific copyright limitations linked to the reproduction of digital images. These are also displayed in libraries and at scanning areas.

Please observe the guidelines above and ensure that you comply with the copyright restrictions.

Copyright and the making of digital copies

You may make digital copies for the purposes of private study or research for a non-commercial purpose.


There are limits on the amount of in-copyright work you may copy. Guidelines are:

  • One article from a journal issue
  • One chapter from a book
  • One short story or poem from an anthology


  • Up to 5% of extracts from a work

Non-textual copying:

  • Music/maps: please consult library staff – there are special issues to consider
  • Pictures/photographs: it is difficult to restrict yourself to copying only an ‘extract’ so you should take particular care to ensure the use you make is wholly legitimate (see below)


  • You may only store one copy.
  • You should not make, distribute or use further copies.
  • You should keep the copy on a non-networked (or otherwise private) computer drive to which only you have access.
  • You should retain details of the source so as to acknowledge it in any use you make of it
  • You do not have the right to use it in your publications;  but
  • You may use it in answering examination questions, assessed coursework or in a dissertation
  • If you are copying manuscript or other unique material, then even if it is out of copyright you must observe the above rules and seek the library’s permission for other uses


Duration of copyright can be complicated, especially for non-textual and unpublished works, but the basic rules for expiration of copyright are:

  • Textual works and artistic works: 70 years after the death of the author; 70 years after publication for anonymous works and works produced by a corporation or institution, with no personal author identified
  • Crown copyright works: the earlier of 75 years after publication and 125 years after creation
  • Photographs created before June 1957: 70 years from creation, but if published in that time, 70 years from publication 
  • Photographs created June 1957-July 1989: 31 December 2050, but if published in that time, 70 years from publication
  • Photographs created after July 1989: 70 years after the death of the photographer
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