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Frequently Asked Questions


Who can use the SSC? Do I need to make an appointment?

Anyone with valid photo identification who will abide by our rules and regulations is welcome to use SSC materials. No appointment is necessary. The reference archivists can often be very helpful identifying good sources and are happy to schedule appointments with anyone who wants to discuss a research project.

In general (though not required), it's a good idea to contact us before planning a visit, to be certain that the collection you wish to see is accessible. Some newer and unprocessed collections (definition) may be stored off-site and we need two working days (Mon-Fri) advance notice to retrieve boxes from these collections.

Why isn't the SSC open as many hours as the library?

Because our materials are unique, reference staff must be on duty at all times when researchers are using them. Since our staff is relatively small, and providing reference service is only one of our duties, our public service hours are limited.

Can I request photocopies of archival materials?

Photocopies can be ordered in our reading room by filling out a Photocopy Request Form and flagging the items to be copied. If you are unable to visit the Sophia Smith Collection, you can order photocopies of specific materials via email, phone or fax. The easiest way to do that is to first view the online finding aids. Click "View Entire Finding aid" to read a complete description of the collection. Then you can request items from the "Contents List" that you would like copied. Please include box and folder numbers in your request. Once you tell us which materials you would like copied, we will send a photocopy request form for you to complete and return with your payment. We will then send you the copies (photocopy prices). You may request that your copies be emailed to you as a PDF file (cost per page is the same).

What other types of reproductions does the SSC offer?

In addition to photocopies the SSC provides digital scans and duplicate prints of images, as well as reproductions of some audiovisual materials. Prices vary depending on the format and some duplication services need to be outsourced to an off-campus preservation lab. For more information see Duplication Services.

What is the turnaround time for photocopies and other reproductions?

Photocopies: We can produce 50 copies per week per researcher. If your order is small, it can usually be done within a day or two.

Digital images and audiovisual reproductions: please allow at least 3 weeks for delivery, depending on the amount and if other orders are in the queue. For more information see Duplication Services.

Can you e-mail documents to me?

Yes. You may request that your copies be emailed to you as a PDF file (cost per page is the same as for photocopies). For documents that already exist in electronic form (such as some oral history transcripts) the cost is a flat rate of $15 per file.

Why do digital reproductions cost so much?

Researchers often ask why it costs so much to obtain digital images (see duplication fees). It takes a lot of money and special handling to care for archival materials over time. Creating, cataloging and caring for digital images also requires significant staff time and resources. Reproduction fees help us to ensure that the materials are preserved and accessible into the future, both in their original and digital formats. There is a reduced cost for images that have already been scanned and cataloged in our image database. Researchers are permitted to use their own digitals cameras in the Reading Room, free of charge. And low resolution images can be sent in a PDF file for the same cost as photocopies.

Can I use a digital camera or scanner in the reading room?

Digital cameras are allowed in the Reading Room.  Personal scanners are not allowed. Please read our Digital Camera policies for more information.

Can I browse in the stacks?

Our stacks are closed to the public. When you visit, you will complete a material request form and the reference staff will retrieve materials for you.

May I bring a laptop computer into the reading room? Do you have wireless access?

Yes, you may bring a laptop and wireless network access is available in our Reading Room and in most other locations in the libraries. Non-Smith users can get a guest login username and password from the Reference Archivist. For more information, see Wireless Network Access on the library Web site.

How do I schedule a class or group visit to the SSC?

The SSC staff is happy to give introductions or orientation sessions to classes or groups interested in our holdings,beginning with middle school-aged students. Faculty are encouraged to request group orientation sessions when they plan assignments using the Sophia Smith Collection. Contact us to schedule a visit.

Does the SSC loan materials? Why do I have to use materials in the SSC's reading room?

The SSC's mission is both to preserve materials and to make them available for research. In order to safeguard the SSC's unique materials for future researchers, they do not circulate and can only be examined in our reading room.

How do I cite primary sources?

Citations for manuscript materials quoted or referred to should include complete and accurate information as to the source of materials used. View our page on Citing SSC Materials for examples of citation formats in footnotes and bibliographies.

To cite a source from our Web site, see the Terms of Use page.

When do I need permission to quote from or reproduce SSC materials?

Written permission must be obtained from the Sophia Smith Collection for use of quotations beyond “fair use”; for publishing or reproducing documents, images, or audiovisual content; or for publication and/or broadcast of content in any form, including print, exhibitions, Web sites, film, video, audio, or any electronic media produced for public distribution. Permission must also be obtained from the copyright owner if the SSC does not own copyright. Note that even if the SSC does not own copyright, or the material has passed into public domain, researchers must still obtain permission from the SSC, as the owners of the physical property.

Content may be quoted in course papers or class presentations without prior permission. If you are citing materials, please give proper attribution of the source (see Terms of Use page for citation forms).

Content made available on our Web site may be downloaded or printed for purposes of private study, scholarship, and research without prior permission.

How do I request permission to publish?

To obtain permission to publish quotations, submit your request in writing to the Sophia Smith Collection. Your request should include the portion of your text in which the quote is used and the citation for the quote. There are no fees for publishing quotations or excerpts.

To obtain permission for use of image reproductions or audiovisual materials, see Photographs and Audiovisual Materials. Additional permission fees will be charged for publishing images and audiovisuals.

Whether for quotations or reproductions, permission must also be obtained from the copyright owner. If the SSC does not own copyright, permission is still required from the SSC as owners of physical property. We will provide whatever information we can on how to identify the copyright owner (see below). It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and obtain all copyright permissions.

How do I know if a work is under copyright or in the public domain?

Both published and unpublished materials are protected by copyright for limited terms, depending on the creation or publication date. Even if the creator is deceased, copyright may be transfered to their heirs or assigns. Once the copyright term expires, the material is in the public domain.

If you know the creation date of the work, you can consult the Copyright Term and the Public Domain table at Cornell University.

How do I identify the copyright holder?

The SSC will provide whatever information we have regarding copyright holders but it is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and obtain permissions. Sometimes copyright is transferred to the Sophia Smith Collection when collections are donated. But most collections include materials created by third-party individuals and copyright may be owned by those individuals or their heirs or assigns. Sometimes the copyright owner is unknown, or impossible to locate, in which case you may only need to show that you have made a good faith effort to track down the copyright holder.

What is “fair use”?

U.S. Copyright law allows for reproduction of portions of published, copyrighted works without requiring permission from the copyright owner under certain limited circumstances. In general, the purposes for that reproduction can be considered “fair ”if they are for criticism, comment, teaching, scholarship, or research, and are not for commercial purposes, are limited in terms of amount and substantiality in relation to the whole work, and will not affect the potential market for the use. Generally, the safest course is to obtain permission from the copyright owner. You can learn more at the U.S. Copyright Office Web Site. See also our Terms of Use page.

For unpublished materials, archivists apply the “fair use” provision by making unpublished material available to researchers, regardless of copyright ownership, and by allowing for single reproductions to be made for research purposes without requesting permission from copyright holders. Also, use of quotations or reproductions in unpublished works (e.g. school papers or for classroom use) does not require permission from the copyright holder.

When it comes to publishing quotations from unpublished sources however, researchers need to obtain permission from the copyright holder, or at least be able to show that they have made a good faith effort. Your publisher or producer should be able to advise you further on this issue.

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 © 2005 Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, MA 01063 Page last updated on Thursday, 03 October 2013