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Special Collections FAQs

Can I check out books and take them with me?

No. Special Collections materials must be used in our reading room during regular office hours (8 am-5 pm, M-F), unless approved otherwise by the Librarian of Special Collections.

Where do you get your stuff?

We acquire materials both through purchase and donation.  Our purchases are made with funds from an endowment or financial gifts.  We do not purchase acquisitions with funds from the regular Library budget.

Do you take donations?

Certainly we do, although there limitations on what and how.  Please look at our Gift Policy, our Collections Development Policy, and Donations and Giving.

I would like to order copies of manuscript materials/photographs.  What do I do?

Go to the Forms page and download a copy of the Reader’s Registration Form and an Application for the Duplication of Unpublished Works.  Complete and sign each form and return to us by mail or by fax, or as emailed .pdf files.  We must have your signature before duplicating materials.

With few exceptions, we cannot make photocopies or duplicate photographs without the permission of the copyright holder(s).  See also the section below on Copyright.

How long should it take to get these copies?

Requests are processed in the order in which they are received.  You can anticipate up to 4-6 weeks for delivery of photocopies of manuscript materials, particularly for larger orders.  Delivery times for digital images vary; however, images (usually as .jpgs or .pdfs) can be emailed directly to you when completed and your payment has been received.

I would like to publish something in your collection (an image, a manuscript, etc.). What do I need to do?

Obtaining permission to publish an item or items in our collections is a somewhat convoluted process, and there are a number of hurdles that must be jumped for anyone wanting to publish other people’s material.  Two of the largest hurdles are copyright and ownership.


Although there are many interpretations of the meaning of copyright, for Special Collections purposes, it means that the creator of an item—a manuscript or photograph, for example—has the legal right to determine how the item is used and presented for a specific period of time.  Often the details of the original publication or creation determines the length of that period of time.  In the United States, anything published prior to 1923 is in the public domain.  Things published between 1923 and 1978, assuming all the copyright notices were procured and updated, are under copyright for 95 years.  If the copyright for items published between 1923 and 1964 were not updated correctly, things may or may not be in the public domain.  Items created after 1978 are going to remain under copyright until well into this century.  There is no simple explanation or rule-of-thumb to determine when items that have been previously published leave the protection of copyright and enter the public domain, and copyright laws change frequently.
Under current United States copyright law, unpublished manuscripts, correspondence, and photographs are under the copyright of the creator from the moment of their creation until 70 years following his/her death.  If the creator is unknown, they are under copyright for 120 years from the date of creation.

How does copyright affect the researcher?

As an example, in the case of a collection of correspondence, it may be necessary for you to acquire the permission from each creator (i.e. correspondent) whose letters you might wish to have photocopied and/or published.  If the creator is deceased, you may be required to contact his/her executor(s) or heir(s) to acquire this permission.

As a courtesy, we may be able to assist you in identifying and locating the current executor; however, it is your responsibility to secure these permissions.  Bear in mind that, in some cases, a fee is charged for copyright permission.

In specific cases, as a library, we may be able to provide you with photocopies of unpublished materials for scholarly research purposes only, given what is understood under copyright guidelines as fair use.  However, fair use is not permission to publish.


All collection materials housed in this department by are owned by The University of Tulsa, McFarlin Library.  Although we provide photocopies, digital images, and audio recordings as a service to the university community, scholars, and private researchers, we are in no way obliged to do so; we also reserve the right to disallow the copying and/or publication of our collection materials, regardless of who owns the copyright.  However, we generally try to accommodate researchers as much as possible.

It is important to understand that the fees for duplication of our unpublished materials are actually lending fees.  Photocopies are printed on special paper bearing the University’s official seal; they remain the property of the University and, as such, we reserve the right to request that they be returned to us.  In the case of digitally reproduced images, we reserve the right to request the destruction of all copies and/or prints after research has been completed.

For more information, please consult our Publication of Materials from the Collections page. Please refer to our Fee Schedule for a detailed list of charges for services we provide.
I am planning on coming to Tulsa to do my research.  Do you have someplace on campus that I can stay?
We regret that, at present, the University does not have on-campus housing for visiting scholars.  However, a number of national chain hotels and motels are within driving distance, some of which may have a discount for TU visitors.  Visit Tulsa Travel Guide | or other online sources for accommodations and restaurants in the Tulsa area.
Do you provide visitor parking?
Yes, we do.  There are two visitor parking locations on campus.

Do I need any special forms of identification to access the library or the collections?

While all visitors are welcome to use our collections, we do require a photo ID before we can retrieve items for use. Please refer to our Policies and Regulations for important details.

Do you offer guest computer access?

You may bring your own laptop, however we cannot offer guest wireless access at this time.  If you have other computer access needs, please contact us well in advance to see if we can accommodate you.

Are there any restrictions or other issues that may prevent me from using a collection?

Some portions of a collection may be restricted from use by anyone except those who have acquired specific permission in writing from the creator. A good example would be the V.S. Naipaul archive in which some personal correspondence and diaries are restricted from use.  These types of restrictions are noted on the online collection finding aids.

Unprocessed collections are also restricted from use in most cases.  Primarily this is necessary in order to preserve the original order imposed by its creator until the materials can be inventoried.