Can You Take Pictures of Books In Library?

The library administrator can permit to take pictures of library reading rooms and other public parts of the library building. But, can you take pictures of books in a library?

Here is everything you may need to know about taking pictures of books in a library.

Is It Allowed To Take Pictures Of Books In A Library?

Is It Allowed To Take Pictures Of Books In A Library?

It is not allowed to photograph books in a library unless the library administration is convinced that you won’t disturb the library users and that the photography meets the privacy act requirements.

However, the pictures of books captured in a library do not necessarily need to include the library logo or signage.

Here are some guidelines for taking pictures of books in a library without disturbing the users.

  • Use a mobile phone, tablet, or compact camera to shoot the pictures
  • Avoid using additional camera lenses or setting up tripods to avoid disruption
  • Turn off the camera flashlight to avoid light disruption to the library users
  • It is advisable to capture the pictures while seated. In case you have to stand, ask the library administrator to direct you to a designated place in the library reading room 
  • Disable all alerts and audio sounds in your camera to prevent noise disruption to the library users
  • When taking the pictures, you should not capture the library users or a collection of books they are using 
  • Do not capture books that have been displayed on computer screens due to restrictions on electronic resources
  • Do not use a handheld scanner unless otherwise advised by the library administrator 

Remember that you can only take pictures of some books while they are in specifically designated desks.

Also, there are some categories of books that you can’t photograph, such as: 

  • Special access or restricted books 
  • Books that have not been assessed as suitable for photography 
  • Books that have a clear marking that should not be copied 
  • Books that have a size, condition, or format that is at risk of damage 
  • Books that have third party rights issues such as privacy and data protection

Tips On How To Photograph Books In A Library 

Is it OK to Take Pictures of Books In Library?

Once the library administrator allows you to take pictures of books in the library, here are some tips that will help you capture incredible images while following the library rules and regulations.


Glare is the biggest issue in book photography, especially when taking pictures of books with a dust jacket printed on glossy paper. 

The photo should reveal the book’s details, perfections, and imperfections, and glare can hinder. 

Keep in mind that glare can occur even when photographing using ambient light and so it’s essential to know the angle at which you can shoot with minimal glare.

You can also use a diffusing system to help eliminate glare when using ambient light.


Keep in mind that books are geometrically shaped, and most book covers are either rectangle or square. 

With distortion, the diagonal lines will not be giving the viewers the right impression of the book.

You can minimize distortion by positioning your camera lens parallel to the book’s cover.


Another common mistake when photographing books is getting closer to the book when your camera doesn’t have a macro lens or macro settings. 

Instead of shooting close to the book and ending up with a blurry image, it is advisable to photograph from a distance and capture a sharp, in-focus image and then crop it later.

You can also maximize your image sensor potential by shooting RAW files. 


The camera flash can cause glare and also disrupt other library users. Therefore, it is advisable not to use a camera flash when taking pictures of books in a library. 


When taking pictures of books in a library, take care of the background to avoid capturing other items that should not be photographed.

You can blur the image background if your camera supports the application of selective focus techniques.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Can I Copy A Library Book?

It is illegal to copy a library book unless it is not available at a reasonable price. For instance, if the material is out of print and the available used copies are sold at unfair prices.

How Can A Library Deal With Book Copyright Issues?

In most cases, libraries don’t own the copyright of the books in their collection. It means the permission to use and copy the book needs to be granted by the copyright owner.

Other Articles In This Series

You might be wondering where else you can take photographs. This series of articles might be of interest:

Final Thoughts

So, can you take pictures of books in a library? Yes, you can take pictures of books in a library provided the library administration has permitted you.

However, you will need to follow the above guidelines on the books you can photograph and photograph them. 

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