Personal photography

Readers may photograph certain materials within the Reading and Study Rooms of the British Architectural Library free of charge, providing that they read and abide by the guidelines set out below.


Photographs may only be taken for the purposes of non-commercial research or private study. Images taken by readers must not be themselves copied, distributed or reproduced in any way, be this in digital or physical form.

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In most instances, readers may take personal photographs of items from:

  • Books and Periodicals Collection  (Reading Room, 66 Portland Place)
  • Drawings and Archives Collections  (Study Rooms, V&A)


Restricted items

The Photographs Collection

Due to the complex nature of photographic copyright, personal photography of items from the Photographs Collection is not permitted. The Photographs team may be able to accommodate individual requests on a case-by-case basis. Please email  to discuss your requirements.

The Early Works and Modern Movement Collections

Personal photography of items from the Early Works and Modern Movement Collections is permitted on a case-by-case basis. Library staff will provide guidance in these cases.

Other restrictions

Certain collections and materials are subject to special restrictions and may not be copied. Certain old, rare or fragile items may only be photographed within sight of library staff. The Library reserves the right to restrict personal photography, or other forms of self-service copying, when collection items are judged to be at risk or if photography causes undue disturbance to other readers.

Procedures for taking photographs

  • Please show consideration for others working nearby and avoid behaviour likely to cause disruption
  • Do not use devices which rely on surface contact, such as hand-held or portable scanners
  • Devices must be hand-held (e.g. do not use stands or tripods) and must be set to silent
  • Only still photography is permitted; filming in the study rooms is not permitted
  • Flash must be turned off and no camera lights of any kind are permitted
  • Do not stand on chairs, kick-stools etc. to take overhead shots


Handling of collections items during photography

  • Items should always be placed on table surfaces (not on the floor, chairs or window sills)
  • Book cradles and cushions should be used to support bound items
  • Single-sheet material and unbound items should be placed flat on the table
  • Avoid exerting physical pressure on items you wish to photograph as this may result in permanent damage. “Snake” weights are available from the help desks if you need to hold materials down during photography


Copyright and fair dealing

It is the reader’s responsibility to ensure that any self-service copying they do in the Reading Rooms (including self-service scanning, photocopying or personal photography), complies with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Important points to remember:

  • Copyright in artistic and literary works lasts for the life of the creator plus 70 years.
  • Copyright in unpublished literary works made before 1 August 1989 and whose authors were deceased by or on this date will expire on 31 December 2039.
  • Under fair dealing, you are permitted to make copies of materials still in copyright for the purposes of research for a non-commercial purpose.

In general, readers may not:

  • Copy more than a fair and reasonable proportion of an item in copyright, unless the copyright holder has authorised you to do so; in most cases it is advised that you copy no more than one chapter or 5% of a published work, one article from any one issue of a journal, and up to 10% but not exceeding 20 pages of a short work
  • Make multiple copies, unless the copyright holder has authorised you to do so
  • Put digital copies on a network (which includes the internet), unless the copyright holder has authorised you to do so

Imaging services and RIBApix

The Library will not grant permission to publish or otherwise reproduce any images created by readers. The Library offers a range of services to supply high-quality and affordable images of items in the collection and the Imaging Services team can advise on licensing these images for reproduction. Visit RIBApix or contact for further information.