Creating copies of library materials as a preservation strategy

Library materials are reproduced for several reasons: to provide back-up copies of items showing obvious signs of deterioration, to replace those that have become too fragile to use, to reduce wear and tear on items that are rare or unique, and to extend access to Harvard's collections beyond the University. Since the beginning of recorded history, copying has been vital to the survival of information.

How to request copies of library materials from Imaging Services

Our Patron Services group is happy to answer any questions you may have about the ordering process.  For information on services, shipping options, fees, payment methods and refund policy, please consult the Patron Services page.

Requests for digital and print reproductions of Harvard Library materials may be submitted through HOLLIS Special Request. Making an order requires the creation of a user account. Click here for instructions on how to order reproductions.

If you have questions or concerns, please contact our Patron Services group via email at, or by telephone at 617-495-3995, Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm.

Digitizing library collections: Services for Harvard libraries

Beyond scanning and digital photography services, the department also offers:

Requesting project-scale digitization services

Harvard libraries considering reformatting projects should complete the Digital Project Inquiry Form to initiate the process of receiving planning assistance and cost estimates. Following submission of the form, the library will be contacted by an adviser from Imaging Services, or when appropriate, the Weissman Preservation Center.

Additional information and a sample of materials may be requested for developing project specifications and pricing. Pricing for reformatting is project specific. Fees are designed to recover projected staff and equipment costs.

Harvard repositories: Consult our collection digitization service categories for project pricing.

Who evaluates project proposals?

Each school-based library organization (FAS/HCL, Radcliffe, Business, Divinity, Medical, Law, Design, Education, Government) will evaluate their own proposals, with Imaging Services and Preservation Services providing technical support.

Who develops project workflows and specifications?

Based on the school's prioritization, Imaging Services will -- in collaboration with our library partners – develop the detailed project plans and cost estimates needed to move projects into production.

Contracting with Imaging Services for project-scale services: Eligibility criteria

  1. Digitization services allocations support project-scale requests characterized by advance planning and scheduling, and production batches sized so that many items can be processed with a single workflow. Processing groupings of similar library materials dramatically increases production efficiency.
    • For small scale imaging requests (digitization of a few images, a single item, requests for prints), Imaging Services offers fee-based over the counter services. The cost of these services is significantly higher than our project-scale work, as single requests require individual consideration and custom camera setups.
  2. All digitized content must be stored within DRS. Content may be replicated elsewhere.
  3. All digitized content must be described in and linked to one or more of the following HL descriptive metadata systems: Hollis; Hollis Images; HOLLIS for Archival Discovery. Descriptive metadata may be replicated elsewhere.
  4. The content must be made accessible to researchers, and the content must be made as widely accessible as possible, limited only by intellectual property statutes, license agreements, and HU data security policies.
  5. Rights metadata must be associated with all DRS-deposited content, as prescribed by HL policy.

Collections digitization capacity and digital imaging allocation-supported services

The current digitization allocations were developed based on each school’s HL Assessment, the extent to which collections include rare materials, degrading and obsolete formats, and collections that are out of copyright.

Each digitization allocation represents a portion of Imaging Services’ collections-digitization production capacity.

NOTE: If a collection digitization project requires outsourced services, the cost of those services is not a component of the HL budget and therefore those costs cannot be covered by a school’s digitization services allocation.

Digitization allocations and externally funded projects

Many digitization projects will be funded from internal or external grants, with donor gifts or endowment income. HL Financial Services can work with local finance officers to ensure that specified funds are charged and the work applied to a school’s digitization services allocation while ensuring that the local unit receives the full benefit of the external funding.

Contact Us

Imaging Services

Widener Library, Room G-81
Harvard Yard
Cambridge, MA 02138

Tel: 617-495-3995 |
Hours (business office): 10:00am–2:00pm, M–F
Hours (phone & email): 9:00am - 5:00pm, M-F