Libraries may offer spaces for exhibits, displays, and bulletin boards in physical or digital formats as a benefit for their communities. The use of these spaces should conform to the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, which states:
- “Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.” (Article I)
- “Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.” (Article II)
- “Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.” (Article VI)
Libraries are not required to make space available to community groups or individuals for exhibits, public displays, notices, pamphlets, or flyers. However, if they do, they should post a permanent notice stating that these spaces are available as a service for the public and are not necessarily reflective of the library’s viewpoint.
Libraries should have written policies that are content-neutral (do not pertain to the content of the display or to the identity, beliefs, or affiliations of the sponsors), clearly defined, and applied equally, and that address any time, place, and manner restrictions. Policies should be inclusive rather than exclusive. For example, a policy that the library’s space is “open to organizations engaged in educational, cultural, intellectual, or charitable activities” is an inclusive statement about the limited uses of the space.
Those who object to the content should be able to request a reconsideration, similar to challenging any library resource. Library workers should not censor or remove materials from exhibits, displays, or areas designated for the distribution of information because someone may disagree with the content or with the identity, beliefs, or affiliations of the sponsors.
Adopted July 2, 1991, by the ALA Council; amended June 30, 2004, July 1, 2014, and June 25, 2019.
- "Meeting Rooms, Exhibit Spaces, and Programs,” ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom, July 2018.