Happy Belated Birthday to the copier – causing librarians everywhere to shake their heads since 1959

The first “copy” was created using static electricity by inventor Chester Carlson on October 22, 1938. Decades later in 1959, the Xerox machine came on the market and changed how we do business forever. Read more at NPR.com.

First Xerox Copier

Xerox’s first commercial copy machine


Photocopiers have long been found in libraries, allowing library patrons to photocopy pages from books. Librarians everywhere can be found shaking their heads in disbelief as patrons proceed to photocopy not just pages, but chapters from a book. So what’s the big deal? Copyright compliance.


Somewhere a misconception began that it is “ok” to copy no more than 10% of any book. Actually, the U.S. copyright law makes no mention of this. The truth is, it is a violation of copyright law to reproduce any part of a published work to which copyright still exists. However, their may be exceptions under the doctrine of Fair Use, found in section 107 of the U.S. copyright law, which lists “various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair,” including teaching, scholarship, and research. Four factors are given to determine whether a use is fair. More on this in a later blog post – stay tuned!


Until then, we urge our users to ask our friendly library staff for permission when photocopying library books. We will most likely say go ahead, but please don’t let us see you photocopying an entire book! That most certainly would not be considered fair use.