Use of the ISL Digital Collection

About ISL Digital Collections

The Indiana State Library (ISL) has made this content from its collections available for research, teaching, and private study. This interface is intended to serve as a guide to the ISL Digital Collections, allowing users to easily access materials from the library's physical holdings, along with items belonging to a few private collectors, to fulfill their educational needs and interests. The ISL Digital Collections shares virtual space with content from other Hoosier cultural institutions in Indiana Memory, the statewide repository for historical resources, which ISL hosts. Legal use of these materials depends on a variety of factors, as described below.

Using Collection Items

Permitted use of digital collection items depends upon their copyright status, which varies across the ISL Digital Collections.

  • Items in the public domain may be freely used by anyone, for any purpose. Consult the American Library Association's easy to use Public Domain Slider for guidance.
  • In certain cases, the contributing institution or private individuals hold the copyright. It is the researcher's responsibility to contact the copyright holder to secure permission of use. Any questions regarding the copyright holder of items in the ISL Digital Collections may be emailed to the Indiana State Library.
  • If the copyright owner is a third party or unknown, be sure to conduct an analysis of the materials' copyright status. If it is discovered digital items are in copyright, contact the copyright holder directly to request permission of use.

Determining Copyright Status & Fair Use

To determine the copyright status and act accordingly, please follow these steps:

  1. Consult the item description, particularly the Use Statement and Copyright Notice. Copyright notices in the ISL Digital Collections utilize statements from, a joint initiative of the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) and Europeana.
  2. If an item is protected by copyright, you may be able to use it for educational, research, or other purposes under the terms of fair use. You, the user, are responsible for determining what use is permitted by law. The American Library Association (ALA) has provided tools to help members of the public determine the applicability of instructor use and fair use of materials through its Copyright Advisory Network.
  3. If your use of a copyrighted work is not covered by fair use, contact the copyright holder to request permission of use. If the copyright holder is unknown, research may be necessary to discover who holds the copyright. Be sure to document every effort to identify and contact a copyright holder.
    1. For published materials, it is often best to begin your search with the U.S. Copyright Office records.
    2. For unpublished works, the Society of American Archivists document, “Orphan Works: Statement of Best Practices,” offers step-by-step guidance for researching these types of materials.
    3. Cornell University's Copyright Information Center and the Getty Research Institute's Copyright Research Guide also provide a variety of useful resources and tools to assist you with copyright information.

Linking to Collection Items

If you are linking to this site, such as including a link to an image in a syllabus, you are welcome to do so without further permission.

Citing to Collection Items

If you use or cite material from ISL Digital Collections, provide citation information such that the viewer can easily find the original and learn more. Citations should include the title of the item, collection name, contributing institution, item URL, and date accessed, whenever possible. Please refer to the Required Citation in the digital item description for the minimal citation requirements to use an item. For more information, consult the Library of Congress' guide for citing primary sources. Please contact (317) 232-3671 or email us through “Ask a Librarian” at with specific questions related to citing to ISL's collection.

Publishing ISL collection items

If you want to publish material from ISL's Digital Collections, please email a request through “Ask a Librarian” at and provide the title of the item, the digital collection, and the URL. You will be required to submit the Application for Use of Photographic, Film or Image Reproduction form. Please review the Use Fee Invoice for the costs associated with publishing items from our collections, particularly for commercial purposes.

Know Something We Don't?

Because the ISL Digital Collections is an educative database, we strive to provide users with the most complete and accurate information possible. However, the library has limited resources for research of individual collection materials and the available information for items, such as photographs, is often incomplete or missing altogether. If you have any further information about any items in the ISL Digital Collections, such as the people, locations, or situations in a photograph, we invite you to share it with us.

Although the Indiana State Library does its best to research the copyright status of the items in its digital collections, there are cases where copyright holders could not be identified or contacted. The State Library strives to adhere to U.S. and international copyright laws as well as commonly-accepted community standards and best practices within the ISL Digital Collections. However, we understand there may be errors or omissions and welcomes all corrections and updates. For more information, please view the library's Digital Collections Access, Redaction and Removal Policy.

Have something to share? Contact us through our Ask a Librarian service to tell us what you know! For best results, please include the message subject line, “Digital Collection Correction”, with the digital item title and URL in the message body along with the correct or new information. Be sure to send us specific details and supporting documentation to help us verify your information. Documentation can include newspaper articles, family history, personal papers (letters, documents, diaries, etc.), photographs, excerpts and citations from published sources, and your own reminiscences.

Submission of new information is not a guarantee that the information will be added to the ISL Digital Collection. Once the proposed corrections have been received, ISL staff will use primary and secondary sources to verify the facts. We appreciate all efforts to supply our collection with information, but we must take all measure to ensure the integrity of the collection.