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Thank you for your interest in filming collection material from the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library. The policy and guidelines, outlined below, protect collections from accidental damage during filming, and taping sessions. External groups interested in filming or videotaping in the Rubenstein Library will require advance permission from Duke University Libraries’ administration to allow us to meet your needs.

Duke University students, faculty, and staff should contact Research Services to discuss and arrange filming.

For Commercial requests

Please contact Duke University Communications. All commercial, non-news photography or videotaping must be approved in advance by Duke University Communications

For Non-Commercial requests (News stories, documentaries, etc.)

The Rubenstein Library has advanced digitization capabilities. Our reproduction services can provide publication and broadcast quality still images.

Identifying Material to Film

It is strongly recommended that in the case of major productions a member of the production team arranges an initial exploratory visit to the Rubenstein Library to identify material for filming and view potential filming locations. While Rubenstein Library staff are happy to advise on potentially relevant areas of our collections, we are unable to undertake extensive research on the requester’s behalf. Our webpages and catalog are the key sources for identifying material in the Rubenstein Library.

Making a Request to Film

A written request must be sent to the Rubenstein Library’s Head of Research Services at least two months in advance of the filming session. The request should include:

  • Name and purpose of filming
  • Date and time of filming
  • Length of time filming is expected to take
  • A specific list of Rubenstein Library items to be used
  • The types of filming and photography planned
  • A full list of equipment (cameras, lighting, etc.)
  • Full list of people in the film crew (including actors, producers, etc.).

Once the request is received, staff will evaluate risks posed to individual items, and allow for alternative selections to be made if specific items are deemed unsuitable for use.

Once approved, any changes to the above information should be provided in advance of filming, in writing, to avoid delays to or termination of filming.

Filming Location

Filming of material from the Rubenstein Library will occur in one of our secure rooms. The Reading Room is unavailable for filming.

Filming and Care of Collections

Rubenstein Library collections are irreplaceable and easily damaged. Film crews will be asked to respect and adhere to Rubenstein Library handling policies, fire, and safety regulations.

A Rubenstein Library staff member will be assigned to attend filming and videotaping sessions to ensure that the guidelines in this policy are followed. At the discretion of the designated staff member, some variations in these guidelines may be authorized which take into consideration the nature and condition of materials being filmed, the effects of the production on the site environment, and the physical effects on the items being filmed. In all cases, the decisions of the Rubenstein Library’s staff will be final.

Filming must take place Monday through Friday between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

Due to the risks of high temperature, ultraviolet exposure, light intensity, and length of exposure, lighting levels and exposure lengths are to be kept to the absolute minimum. Lighting should produce low levels of heat and be equipped with UV absorbers. Rubenstein Library reserves the right to restrict the types of lighting that is permissible for filming. The equipment list provided as part of the initial filming request will be reviewed and items that pose a risk to the collections will be identified during the initial review.


Please refer to our Citations, Permissions & Copyright page.

Please note: When providing permission to film its collections, the Rubenstein Library is not supplying permission to publish or otherwise distribute such material. Duke University provides access to these materials for educational or research purposes only. You are solely responsible for making legal assessments of and securing any necessary permissions to the collection materials that you intend to use for purposes other than personal research.


When publishing, exhibiting, or broadcasting any material from the Rubenstein Library (regardless of copyright status). Formal acknowledgement must be made to the Rubenstein Library using the credit line:

David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University


The charges associated with filming at the Rubenstein Library are $225 for the first hour and $175 each additional hour, which must be paid prior to filming.

Delays to Filming or Termination

The Rubenstein Library will not be responsible fiscally or otherwise for any inconvenience or liability to the schedule, deadline, or obligations of camera and filming crews or their administration for any delays or stoppage of work caused by the decisions of the Rubenstein Library staff authorized to enforce this policy


Eating, drinking, smoking, and applying makeup are prohibited in all filming areas. All building security, inspection, clearance and safety procedures must be followed.

All members of the film crew planning to enter the Reading Room must complete an online Rubenstein Library registration.

Collection materials may not be used as props, stands, or supports for other items, nor may they be positioned in such a way as to cause potential or real stress or damage.

Collection materials approved for filming must be handled and positioned during the session by designated Rubenstein Library staff only.

Lamps must not raise the surface temperature of collection materials or the room environment beyond levels appropriate to the safety of collection materials. This is an item specific, non-quantifiable measure, and will be assessed during the session by appointed Rubenstein Library staff according to the response of materials during filming. Maximum duration of continuous lighting will be determined by these considerations.

Lamps should be turned off when not in use. If intensity of lights can be controlled, low intensity should be used while positioning lights. Lights should be brought up to full intensity only just before shooting begins.

Precautions should be made to prevent damage to collection materials should a lamp fall or explode. This may be done by assigning a crew member to hold the lamp stand during filming; placing lamps at a distance from collection materials which is greater than the height of the extended stand; weighting the stands with sandbags; attaching protection screens to the lamp fixtures; or a combination of the above. It is for this concern that protection gratings are required for lamp fixtures.

It is expected that film crews will supply their own UL approved surge protectors and extensions cords, all of which must be in good condition.

Should power overloads or other malfunction result in erratic electrical behavior, blown building fuses, overheating cables, or other potentially dangerous situations, the session will be terminated immediately until the problem can be resolved to the satisfaction of appropriate Rubenstein Library, Facilities, or Physical Plant personnel.

The privacy of patrons must not be violated. Photographers/filmmakers may not photograph/film readers and library staff without the written consent of any individual.