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1. General information

The Smithsonian Institution Libraries’ New Media Office provides reproductions from preexisting digital files or new digital photography of material from its collections to students, academics and creative professionals in publishing, design, broadcast and other media.

2. How do I order images I've found on your website or in your collection?

Please use the information below. Email is the most reliable method of communication. Contact for ordering images or requesting permissions:

New Media Office
Smithsonian Institution Libraries
Smithsonian Institution
PO Box 37012
NHB 24 Mezz, MRC 154
Washington, DC 20013-7012
Telephone: 202.633.1708
Email: SILImages@si.edu


3. Can I download images directly from your site?

You may download low-resolution images directly from the web site for personal, research or study purposes for free. This includes classroom use and student projects. It does NOT include using images to populate online courses (even if password protected). For this type of use and any nonprofit or commercial publication (i.e. book, journal, magazine, newspaper, brochure, newsletter, annual report, etc.), CD-ROM, broadcast, website, exhibition, and promotional material you will need to contact Smithsonian Institution Libraries for the appropriate permissions and licenses.

For ordering high resolution images (for any purpose), please consult the Libraries’ Image Use Fee Schedule.

4. Are your fees available online?

Yes, please consult the Libraries’ Image Use Fee Schedule.

5. Do you waive fees for non-profits, government agencies and scholarly presses?

Fees are uniformly applied but lower for non-commercial groups or users.

6. What digital formats are available?

Our standard high-resolution specifications for scanning are as follows:

  • Scans are made at 300dpi or 400dpi depending on origin of the material.
  • Available 35mm slides and b/w negatives are scanned at 2400 dpi at 100%.
  • A standard color bar is available in some images, with the exception of 35mm slides.

7. How long is the turnaround time?

Turnaround time is generally 5 business days after return of a signed permission form for images already available in a suitable digital format. Rush service is available with a surcharge of $30 for next business day after return of the signed permission form.

For new scanning, please allow 2-3 weeks for turnaround time.

8. What are the methods of delivery for your images?

Digital files are delivered via a secure FTP download site. Images can be burned to a CD and sent via a method selected by the requestor. There is a $10 surcharge for creation of the CD and any express mail delivery is paid for by the requestor.

9. How can I use your images for educational purposes?

See our Use for Teachers and Students page for more information on this topic.

10. Why do I have to pay the Smithsonian Libraries a fee for use of public domain images?

As the physical rights holder of this material, most of which is in the public domain for copyright purposes, Smithsonian Libraries charges a usage fee if images are to be used in any nonprofit or commercial publication, broadcast, website, exhibition, promotional material, etc. The usage fee is not a copyright fee. You are free to obtain a copy of these images from a source other than Smithsonian Institution Libraries.

Licensing and imaging fees directly support our collections and projects. Licensing also helps to maintain the integrity of our collection by regulating where and how our images may be used. Smithsonian Libraries provides free and open access to its digital images and the images may be freely downloaded for personal, research and study purposes only.

11. Will Smithsonian Institution Libraries reproduce images still in copyright?

Yes, but only after you’ve obtained and forwarded to the Libraries written permission from the rights holder or you’ve documented in writing your “best efforts” to track down the rights holder.

12. If I pay a fee to a third party copyright holder, does the Libraries’ fee still apply?

Yes, it does. Smithsonian Institution Libraries is not charging a copyright fee but a usage fee to reproduce the image from its collections.

13. Once I purchase an image, may I use it any way I like?

No. You must request separate rights to reproduce or use images. For example, if you plan to use one of our images in an exhibition as well as the printed catalog, there is an additional fee for the second use.

14. If my publisher issues a new edition of my book, do I have to pay additional fees?

Yes, Smithsonian Institution Libraries grants only one-time use for any type of book, magazine, or journal publication. You will have to reapply for permission and pay usage fees. For second use, the fees posted are discounted by 25%.


Quick Search! Enter a search term and hit the search button to quickly find an image

The above "Quick Search" box will find ANY words you type in. Use "*" to truncate a word (dog* will get dogs). Using "and" or "or" between words will include or exclude those terms. For more precise search, try the "Advanced Search" option below.

More search options, including searching by book author and title, collection, etc. is available here
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