Media Policy: For Archives and Special Collections

Important Information

Please read it thoroughly before you contact us to arrange filming. This policy sets out the issues which need to be considered in relation to using archives for media purposes. We reserve the right to refuse permission to film in some instances.


  1. Introduction
  2. Making a Request to Film
  3. Identifying the Documents You Wish to Film
  4. Researching the Collections
  5. Filming Practicalities
  6. Filming and the Care of Collections
  7. Technical Requirements
  8. Insurance
  9. Broadcasting & Copyright
  10. Acknowledgements & Transmission
  11. Fees
  12. Interviews
  13. Conduct
  14. Termination
  15. Review
  16. Appendix A: Handling Guidelines
  17. Appendix B: Reading Room Rules


SOAS Archives and Special Collections exists to preserve and promote access to archival heritage relating to Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe, the Americas, the Caribbean, the South Pacific and Australasia. Broadly speaking, our collections reflect the British experience in Africa and Asia over the last 250 years, and include archives of missionary societies, businesses, NGOs and charities, and papers of individuals, such as academics, diplomats and colonial administrators.

As our archival collections are typically unique, fragile and irreplaceable, their care and preservation must take priority. Consequently, the following conditions must be applied to any filming undertaken at SOAS:

1. Making a Request to Film

1.1 We require at least 10 working days’ notice.

Advance notice of at least 10 days is required regarding the intended use of original documents for filming.  It is advisable for a member of the production team to arrange an initial onsite visit in order to discuss the proposed filming and to assess the location’s suitability.  In the case of large-scale filming or major programme ideas, a meeting should be booked at least one month in advance.  We strongly advise you secure permission before confirming talent, travel or accommodation arrangements.

1.2 To request permission to film at SOAS, please complete the Media Application Form: For Archives and Special Collections (msword; 51kb) and email it to as far in advance as possible.

2. Identifying the Documents You Wish to Film

2.1 You are responsible for identifying document(s) you wish to film. While archives staff can provide help with highlighting collections and relevant guides/indexes, we do not have the staff resources to undertake detailed research on your behalf.  A general description of most collections is searchable via the online SOAS Archives catalogue . In some instances however, hardcopy handlists must be consulted within the Special Collections Reading Room. It is therefore advisable for a member of the production team to arrange an initial visit in order to consult these catalogues.

2.2 All document requisition/shelf-mark references must be submitted to SOAS Archives & Special Collections at least FIVE working days in advance of filming to ensure they are ready for your arrival. No additional documents can be ordered on the day of filming.

3. Researching the Collections

3.1 TV/Radio journalists and other media researchers are welcome to visit the Archives to undertake research at any time within the normal Special Collections reading room opening hours of Monday-Friday (9am-5pm), except Wednesdays where we are closed to researchers.

3.2 All researchers consulting original archives must also have a valid SOAS Archives reader’s ticket. For further guidance please see our Access to Collections web pages.

3.3 If you are unable to carry out the necessary research in order to identify the items you wish to film, you may wish to hire an independent researcher. The National Archives and The Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives both provide lists of independent researchers who may be able to help you on a paid basis. Journalists can also locate a subject or regional SOAS staff expert using the SOAS Expert Search .

4. Filming Practicalities

4.1 Timings & Invigilation:

Again, due to the fragile and irreplaceable nature of our archive collections, a member of SOAS Library staff must be present to supervise at all times throughout the filming. Therefore, filming can only take place on Wednesdays, between the hours of 9.30am-12.30pm and/or 1.30pm-4.30pm. These time slots are inclusive of the time taken for setting up and packing up. Film crews must be off site by 5.00pm at the latest. In exceptional circumstances, it may be possible to arrange filming outside of these hours. However, this should be negotiated well in advance and would incur an additional fee.

4.2 Location of filming:

Special Collections Reading Room: Subject to availability, the filming of archives can only be undertaken in the Special Collections Reading Room on the lower ground floor (level F). Filming will be supervised at all times by staff.

SOAS Campus grounds: To obtain permission for filming in any other part of the School (i.e. outside of the Library/Archives), please contact SOAS Press and Media Relations on +44 (0)20 7898 4956 or

All requests to film archives or use the premises must be preceded by the completion and signing of a Media Application Form: For Archives and Special Collections (msword; 51kb)

5. Filming and the Care of Collections

5.1 As our archival documents are irreplaceable and easily damaged, they must therefore be handled carefully and as little as possible. Filming can only be undertaken if it does not compromise the physical preservation of the archives. Film crews will be asked to respect and adhere to the SOAS conservation and care requirements for document handling, and will be asked to wear protective gloves and to use archival supports for the items being filmed. Any weights, rests or protective materials supplied by SOAS staff must be used throughout the filming process.

5.2 Prior to your visit, please take the time to read the enclosed Appendix A Handling Guidelines , and Appendix B Reading Room Rules .

5.3 Excessive exposure to light is also dangerous, and the lighting levels and periods of exposure must be kept to minimum. Every effort must be made to ensure that archive material is not subject to excessive lighting levels which can cause significant damage to documents e.g. wax seals that will be damaged by exposure to lights and parchment documents will curl. The Archive Service may request lighting levels to be reduced to minimise risks to archive material while filming. Please remember to switch off additional lighting when the camera is not rolling/between takes to ensure that documents are not exposed to strong lighting for extended periods of time.

5.4 Under no circumstances can documents be removed from the Special Collections Reading Room for filming.

5.5 The Archive Service reserves the right to refuse the use of any equipment, if it is considered that it may be harmful to the health and safety of staff or to the physical condition of the document.

5.6 Similarly the Archive Service reserves the right to halt filming or photography if it is not satisfied with the standard of care being applied.

6. Technical Requirements

6.1 SOAS reserves the right to determine the suitability of all equipment used in filming, including its electrical safety. No equipment without a current valid safety certificate, or which does not conform to the Safety Regulations of the Electrical Institute of Great Britain and suitable British Standards, may be used on the premises. No lights or equipment may be clamped to any fixed furnishings. The capacity of the electrical circuits is that of any one 13 amp safety socket, i.e. just over 2 kilowatts. Multi outlet adaptors are forbidden even where the total wattage rating is within the 2 kilowatt guideline.

7. Insurance

7.1 The film company must provide us with proof of public liability insurance and that they are adequately insured. Any damage arising out of filming of SOAS material either of persons or objects will be the responsibility of the client. We shall ask for a copy of your insurance schedule when you request permission to film.

8. Broadcasting & Copyright

8.1 Filming these archives does not constitute authorisation for the material to be broadcast without the express permission of SOAS and the copyright owner of the particular archive collection. The onus to clear copyright and satisfy the requirements of the Copyright Act rests with the media company or the newspaper concerned. Where necessary, written permission must be sought from external owners of collections which are on deposit or permanent loan at SOAS. Note that the owner of an archival document is not necessarily the same as the copyright holder. The Archive Service will advise and provide contact details of the copyright holder where it is able to do so.

8.2 It is also necessary to clear copyright for the copying and/or filming of any original
document or photograph for media publication.

8.3 Prior to filming, media companies must complete the SOAS Permission to publish/broadcast form (For archives, manuscripts and rare books) - encompassing license authorisation, reproduction charges, and terms & conditions for use of images in publication/broadcast. A letter of licence will then be issued by the Archive Service to the film company which sets out the use for which a document(s) is being used. This licence must be signed and returned to the Archive Service before any filming or photography can take place. The reproduction fee will be set according to the current scale of fees and charges. Please contact Archives & Special Collections to determine and pay the required reproduction fees in advance .

8.4 It is the responsibility of the media company to ensure that any subsequent use of images does not infringe copyright.

9. Acknowledgements & Transmission

9.1 When publishing, exhibiting or broadcasting any material from SOAS Library (regardless of copyright status), formal acknowledgements must be made to SOAS using the following credit line: ' SOAS Library, University of London', followed by the full document reference. Please credit 'SOAS Library, University of London' as the source of the records on screen and in the script (not just in the closing credits) during the film/programme itself. Where required by the Head of Archives & Special Collections, the owner of the documents must also be acknowledged.

9.2 Please inform SOAS of the date/s and time of the proposed broadcast/s and forward the Archive a DVD copy of the programme within one month of the first broadcast.

10. Fees

10.1 Fees will be charged to media companies or bodies filming archives or using the Archives premises. Media companies will also be charged for consultancy work or programme input or preparation.

10.2 Local radio and newspapers will not normally be charged facility or reproduction fees but acknowledgements are required. Fees may be charged for special requests that may have commercial applications or take up considerable amounts of staff time.

10.3 A fee will be paid to SOAS for the cost of filming on the premises: £250+VAT for up to 3 hours filming or part thereof , £500+VAT for 3-7 hours filming. These charges are entirely separate from any reproduction fees that may be charged to broadcast or publish the material (please see our separate forms for Permission to publish/broadcast; Terms & conditions for use of images in publication/broadcast; and Reproduction charges).

10.4 Payment for both the filming fee and the reproduction fee must be made in advance of filming.

10.5 Full address and billing details must be supplied in order for us to send you an
invoice. Please provide these details within the Media Application Form: For Archives and Special Collections (msword; 51kb)

11. Interviews

11.1 Requests for radio interviews and other press interviews to promote archive collections, events, exhibitions and the Archive Service in general should be addressed through SOAS Press and Media Relations (+44 (0)20 7898 4956 or ). Archives & Special Collections will always endeavour to respond to requests made through SOAS Press and Media Relations for interviews but reserves the right to refuse an interview if staffing levels do not permit.

12. Conduct

12.1 In accordance with SOAS Library rules, all film crews are expected to co-operate with SOAS staff, and in support of maintaining a welcoming environment conducive to study and enjoyable use of the Library. Visitors must not behave in a way that threatens or harasses members of staff or disturbs other users, and must not damage Library property.

13. Termination

13.1 SOAS reserves the right to terminate filming at any time if staff deem that the stipulated terms and conditions are not being met or that the filming is deviating from the agreed schedule or context.

14. Review

14.1 This policy will be reviewed within three years. It is however a working document and, depending on local circumstances, may be subject to modification before a formal review.

Date of this issue of the policy statement: May 2012

Appendix  A: Handling Guidelines

The materials held in this repository are unique and irreplaceable. Careful handling can help to preserve them for future generations. We therefore ask you to observe the following guidelines:

Please do:

  • Ensure that you have clean hands when handling material.
  • Use pencils only.
  • Use the book support cushions provided for fragile or large volumes, and snake weights to hold open pages.
  • Turn pages in volumes slowly and with care, ideally from the top right corner rather than the bottom right. This reduces the chance of tearing more fragile pages.
  • Consult loose papers one file at a time. Place the file flat on the table and turn pages over with care, retaining the original order. Keep tags and fastenings in place.
  • Consult oversize items on the large desk at the back of the Reading Room.
  • Carefully unroll maps and use the soft weights provided to hold the edges down.
  • Use the gloves provided to handle photographs, negatives or slides where these have not already been placed into transparent sleeves.

Please do not:

  • Bring any food or drink (including water) into the Reading Room.
  • Lean on material, or use improvised devices to prop up volumes or weight pages open.
  • Place materials over the edge of the table, or on the floor, chairs or windowsill.
  • Lick your fingers to separate pages.
  • Mark, annotate or alter the material in any way.
  • Remove material from transparent sleeves without the permission of the archivist.
  • Lie books face down. Staff will provide acid-free page markers to help you keep your place.
  • Use flash photography. Always seek permission from staff before taking any photographs.

Appendix B: Reading Room Rules - For archives, manuscripts and rare books

  • The Reading Room is only for readers using material held by Archives and Special Collections
  • Readers must have a valid Reader’s Ticket issued in their own name in order to access archives and manuscripts. Day Pass holders will only have access to theses and rare books
  • Bags and outdoor coats should be left in the lockers outside the Reading Room
  • No food or drink (including bottled water) is allowed in the Reading Room
  • Pencils or laptops only are to be used for making notes
  • Mobile phones are to be placed on silent mode or switched off and no calls are to be taken or received
  • Readers should work quietly and be considerate to others using the Reading Room
  • Items issued to one reader should not be passed on to another
  • Archive staff have the final say on whether a book or document is fit for production or copying
  • Readers should not mark books or material from the archives in any way
  • Readers should take care when handling books and archive material and should comply with the advice given by members of staff
  • No items or books are to be removed from the reading room except theses and books on the open shelves with the permission of a member of staff
  • Staff reserve the right to open and inspect your personal possessions upon request, including pads of paper and laptops
  • Damage or theft of material held by Archives and Special Collections is an offence and those responsible will be prosecuted
  • Readers must seek permission from a member of staff before taking photographs
  • Reprographic regulations should be complied with. Please ask for an information sheet at the Supervisor’s Desk
  • No scanners, pen scanners or copying devices should be used in the reading room
  • Readers are obliged to comply with the relevant legislation on copyright and data protection when using information from the archives
  • Readers must return the material they are consulting to the Supervisor’s Desk before leaving the Library

Anyone who fails to comply with the Reading Room Rules
will be denied access to SOAS Archives and Special Collections

Media Policy: For Archives and Special Collections

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Media Application Form: For Archives and Special Collections

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