Display, Exhibit, & Free Literature Space PolicyIn keeping with the KCLS Mission to “Provide free, open and equal access to ideas and information to all members of the community,” and with its principle of service to “Provide free access to, and promote the communication of, ideas and information,” the Library System seeks exhibits and displays that reflect the broad range of interests of the people within the numerous communities served.
Display space has been specifically created in community libraries to provide a venue for the exhibit of materials that will encourage the communication of a wide span of ideas and information. It is the role of the library system to include exhibits that may be thought-provoking.
The space is open to all members of the community on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting use of the space. The managing librarian has the authority to select or reject requests for the limited display and exhibit space based on KCLS guidelines (see below).
KCLS provides a variety of information regarding services, collections and programs that is featured in the display areas in libraries. The Library System also places on display information and promotional materials from local governments and organizations in the community, as space is available.
The KCLS Community Relations Department accepts publications, flyers, posters, etc. from organizations and distributes them to the libraries. Library Managers have the final say over what and how many items are displayed, based on community interest.
KCLS also features information regarding changes in services, programs, and other materials.
We strive to provide this information within the space limitations in the libraries. With display equipment and creativity in display areas, we can provide this service within the following guidelines:First Priority - KCLS Materials
- KCLS library materials
- KCLS News and Events, Omnibus, open hours, announcements, etc.
- Community library program publicity
- KCLS special promotions
- Needs and interests of the community
- Relevance (local community group, activity, etc.)
- Non-profit group
- Community meetings
- Quality of publication, flyers, etc.
Weed out-of-date materials frequently, at least weekly.
In addition, libraries follow “Exhibit Spaces and Bulletin Boards: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights,” which states:
Libraries often provide exhibit spaces and bulletin boards. The uses of these spaces should conform to the Library Bill of Rights: Article I states, “Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.” Article II states, “Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.” Article VI maintains that exhibit space should be made available “on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.”
In developing library exhibits, staff members should endeavor to present a broad spectrum of opinion and a variety of viewpoints. Libraries should not shrink from developing exhibits because of controversial content or because of the beliefs or affiliations of those whose work is represented. Just as libraries do not endorse the viewpoints of those whose works are represented in their collections, libraries do not endorse the beliefs or viewpoints of topics which may be the subject of library exhibits.
Exhibit areas often are made available for use by community groups. Libraries should formulate a written policy for the use of these exhibit areas to assure that space is provided on an equitable basis to all groups which request it.
Written policies for exhibit space should be stated in inclusive rather than exclusive terms. For example, a policy that the library’s exhibit space is open “to organizations engaged in educational, cultural, intellectual, or charitable activities” is an inclusive statement of the limited uses of the exhibit space. This defined limitation would permit religious groups to use the exhibit space because they engage in intellectual activities, but would exclude most commercial uses of the space.
A publicly supported library may limit use of its exhibit space to strictly “library-related” activities, provided that the limitation is clearly circumscribed and is viewpoint-neutral.
Libraries may include in this policy rules regarding the time, place, and manner of use of the exhibit space, so long as the rules are content-neutral and are applied in the same manner to all groups wishing to use the space. A library may wish to limit access to exhibit space to groups within the community served by the library. This practice is acceptable provided that the same rules and regulations apply to everyone, and that exclusion is not made on the basis of the doctrinal, religious, or political beliefs of the potential users.
The library should not censor or remove an exhibit because some members of the community may disagree with its content. Those who object to the content of any exhibit held at the library should be able to submit their complaint and/or their own exhibit proposal to be judged according to the policies established by the library.
Libraries may wish to post a permanent notice near the exhibit area stating that the library does not advocate or endorse the viewpoints of exhibits or exhibitors.
Libraries that make bulletin boards available to public groups for posting notices of public interest should develop criteria for the use of these spaces based on the same considerations as those outlined above. Libraries may wish to develop criteria regarding the size of material to be displayed, the length of time materials may remain on the bulletin board, the frequency with which material may be posted for the same group, and the geographic area from which notices will be accepted.
American Library Association, Adopted July 2, 1991 by the ALA Council
Last Updated: July 18, 2012