Columbia Archives collections are open to the public. Students, teachers, urban planners, the press, businesses and Columbia residents are among the users of the Columbia Archives. The Archives welcomes all levels of research interest. We encourage Columbia residents who wish to learn more about their community to visit.  Researchers are required to register, give a reason for their research and abide by the Policies and Procedures.

Research Services

Columbia Archives offers limited research service for those unable to visit the facility.  A simple question that requires minimal research is free of charge.  If your question requires a more in-depth investigation, the staff can conduct limited research.  Fees for research are $20 per half hour or portion thereof. Fees will be added for photocopies or scans if applicable.

Rules for Using the Archives

Many of the materials are original and not replaceable.  We ask all researchers to please observe the following rules while using items in the collection.

  1. No food or drink.
  2. Materials are non-circulating and cannot be removed from the premises. Photocopies may be made in accordance with the Copyright Law of the United States. See notice at copier machine. Fees are 20 cents per copy.
  3. Only pencils are allowed while using the materials.  Pencils will be provided if you need one.
  4. Researchers may only review one box at a time and must not write upon, mark, lean on or otherwise mishandle research materials.
  5. Staff may request special care procedures for fragile materials (e.g. wearing gloves when handling photographs).
  6. Post-it notes are harmful to books and manuscripts. Acid-free bookmarks are available.
  7. Researchers must preserve the existing order of all unbound materials. Please report any disarrangement and/or conservation problems to the staff.
  8. Cell phone use is prohibited.
  9. Laptop computers are allowed and digital cameras (without flash) may be used with the permission of staff.  Scanners are prohibited.
  10. If your research results in a formal paper or publication, we ask that you donate a copy for the Columbia Archives collection. Columbia Archives should be cited among your sources. See Rights and Responsibilities for citation requirements when using research materials in your publication or production.

Rights and Responsibilities

Columbia Archives provides access to items in our collections for educational and research purposes.  The user assumes all responsibility for determining what uses are lawful under current copyright law and to obtain any required permissions and pay any required fee.

Copyright Law

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17 United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproduction of copyrighted material.

Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction.  One of these specified conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be “used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship or research.”  If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of “Fair Use” that user may be liable for copyright infringement.

Columbia Archives reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order if, in its judgment, fulfillment of the order would involve violation of copyright law.

Citation and Credit Requirements


A brief credit line should appear adjacent to all our images when used in a publication or website.  Full citations must appear in the footnotes or credits of your publication or production for each image used from our collection.  The following form should be used:  Brief credit line to appear adjacent to image: Courtesy of Columbia Archives; Full citation to appear in footnotes or credits should include image title, collection title, image number, Columbia Archives, Columbia, MD.

Other Research Materials

Full citations should appear in the footnotes or bibliography and should include item title, collection title, Columbia Archives, Columbia, MD.

Fees for Services