Hosted Exhibits Policy

This policy is governed by the University Libraries’ Public Art Policy

Exhibits are a valuable part of the University Libraries’ public services outreach and user education program. Exhibits inform, educate, entertain, and promote the Libraries’ information resources and services. Exhibits provide an excellent opportunity for the Libraries to engage in collaborative projects, especially with faculty members and others in the university community.

The Libraries host a variety of exhibitions; some using selected materials from the collections, others traveling exhibits of artifacts, photographs, documents, and books from external partners.

This policy defines the philosophy and goals for exhibits and public art displays throughout the Libraries, identifies responsibility for these programs, and defines acceptance guidelines and general policies. Smaller exhibits which are regarded by Library staff as “displays” are covered by this policy with the exception of displays for publicity purposes. Library staff involved in organizing, curating, and/or mounting exhibits or displays are deemed to be acting within the course of official duties and under the authority of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill University Library.

The mounting of exhibitions and the display of public art is an important part of providing welcoming and pleasant facilities and also enriches the Libraries’ service and outreach programs.

The Chair of the Library Public Art Committee and the University Librarian, in consultation with others, will be responsible for updating and revising this policy.


  • Promote the diverse holdings and scholarly value of specific library collections
  • Promote the role of the Library, its collections, resources, services, and staff as central to the research and teaching programs of the university
  • Nourish intellectual, aesthetic, and creative growth
  • Educate the university community on particular topics
  • Enhance the strategic mission and development goals of the library
  • Encourage individuals to contribute to the expansion of knowledge
  • Support university events, programs, symposia, activities, and accomplishments
  • Promote university and community relations
  • Recognize library supporters, friends, and donors

Criteria for Selection

Exhibits in the Libraries will be selected with reference to the Exhibits Policy and Goals Statements. Exhibit spaces are made available to exhibitors sponsored by the Libraries.

The Libraries reserves the right at its sole discretion to approve or disapprove all exhibit requests, to have final approval for the layout of the exhibit, and to make all decisions regarding length of exhibit duration, placement of the exhibit within a library, and content of publicity. Some factors that the Libraries apply in evaluating exhibit proposals are listed below. This list is not exhaustive, and not all exhibits will meet all criteria.

  • Educational content ranging from advanced scholarly contributions to general informational value;
  • Relevance to library collections;
  • Broadness of appeal of the main theme;
  • Appropriateness of subject, technique, and style for intended location and audience;
  • Appropriateness to special events, anniversaries, holidays, etc.;
  • Relation to other events or exhibits in the community;
  • Representation of an influential movement, genre, trend, or national culture;
  • Vitality, originality, artistic expression, and experimentation;
  • Ease and cost of installation.

In addition, all exhibits must adhere to the following requirements:

  • When the topic is controversial, an objective presentation is required.
  • Does not promote the partisan political, religious, or social doctrines of any single person or group.
  • Does not promote the financial profit of any individual, organization, or commercial enterprise and does not display items for sale.
  • Satisfies public safety considerations, e.g. free standing displays, hands-on exhibits, etc.
  • Exhibitor agrees to sign a loan agreement with the Libraries.

Exhibit Process

In each designated exhibit location, a sign will be posted informing viewers of the Library’s hosted exhibit policy. Sign will read:
“For information about Library exhibits, please consult the Library Hosted Exhibits Policy at”


Exhibitors are solely responsible for funding all costs associated with the exhibit, including but not limited to shipping, installation, dismantling, and insurance. Exhibitors are responsible for publicity beyond that provided by the Libraries. See the publicity section of this document for more information.

Security and Insurance

Exhibits are often located in high traffic areas whose visibility reduces the likelihood of damage or theft of materials; however, the Libraries takes no responsibility for the security or welfare of exhibits at any time, including during transport, installation, or dismantling. Before an exhibit is installed, exhibitors and the Libraries representative must sign a release, indemnifying UNC from any responsibility for loss or damage.

Exhibitors from off-campus are encouraged to insure their exhibit through their own agent.


Exhibits and displays must be placed so as to accommodate physical safety considerations. There cannot be loose cords or cabling; free-standing units must be secure; and ease of egress from the exhibit for emergency purposes must be assured. The exhibits must be set up so as to accommodate disability access.

Best Practices

Exhibits must be prepared to a high standard of professional best practice, well organized, and aesthetically pleasing. In order to most effectively promote a Libraries exhibits program, units are encouraged to have a schedule of exhibitions planned for six to twelve months in the future.

Exhibit Duration: Exhibits should have specific start and end dates, although the end date may be extended if the schedule allows. As a general rule, exhibits should be on display for two to six months, but variations are permissible. Since exhibit conditions place a strain on library materials being displayed, exhibits that include library materials should not last longer than three months, variations will be considered under exceptional circumstances.

Exhibit Text/Labels: Text should be word processed and printed on a high quality printer if not professionally designed and/or typeset. Labels should be mounted to foam board for installation.

  • Typeface should be a legible font such as Times New Roman, Century, or Arial.
  • Text should have contrast, such as black on white.
  • Introductory panels should be 150-170 words or less.
  • Identifications for individual items should be 20-30 words and descriptions/captions should be 50-80 words.
  • Font size should be at least 24 point for introductory text panels. For secondary text panels, 18-20 point is acceptable if the reader can be within 20 inches.

Exhibit Support Materials:

  • Traveling Exhibits will be complemented, if possible, by exhibits of materials from the Libraries collections.
  • Sound, video, or computer displays accompanying exhibits may be installed and removed by the exhibitor in consultation with library staff.


Exhibitors will work with their library contact and the Director of Library Communications to develop an appropriate publicity and promotional plan, and to determine a distribution of responsibilities and costs. Elements of such a plan may include some or all of the following:

  • Posting information to the Library’s website and social media channels;
  • Creating and distributing a news release and contacting media outlets;
  • Developing and distributing promotional materials such as fliers, posters, postcards, or handbills;
  • Developing and publishing supplemental instructional or supporting materials such as bibliographies, brochures, or an accompanying website;

Publicity and supplemental materials that the Library distributes must adhere to the Library’s editorial standards and procedures. The Library reserves final editorial approval of all materials that it distributes.

Receptions & Exhibits Related Activities

Rooms in the Libraries may be, on occasion, available for receptions and other activities (workshops, talks, demonstrations) linked to exhibits. These should be discussed with the specific Libraries exhibit contact who will consult the room use policy and check the schedule to see whether a reception or other activity can be held. The Library will host these events at its discretion.

Dispute Resolution

The University Library supports academic freedom and the free expression of opinion. The Libraries will not exercise any censorship of materials such as books, images, labels, catalogs, or promotional literature that do not violate the guidelines as expressed in the University Libraries Exhibits Guidelines or local, state, or federal laws.

The University Libraries subscribes to the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights as it applies to exhibit spaces, specifically:

  • 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.
  • Challenges of a display, exhibit, or printed materials posted or displayed in a UNC library may be sent in writing to the Deputy University Librarian and Associate University Librarian for Collections and Services. The Libraries will respond to written statements as follows:
  • The individual will be notified that the Library has received his/her written statement of concern.
  • A review process will be conducted in a timely matter by Library Administration in response to an individual’s statement of concern.
  • While a concern is being considered, there will be no change in the status of the display, exhibit, or printed materials.
  • Upon completion of the review process, the appropriate administrator will notify the individual of the Library’s decision.
  • The individual may appeal the decision to the University Librarian and Associate Provost for University Libraries.

Last reviewed and updated: May 2015