Exhibits & Public Displays Guidelines and Best Practices
Last updated: May 8, 2023
These guidelines define the philosophy and goals for Exhibits physically in Burke Library or physical or digital collections curated by LITS, identify responsibility for these programs, and define accepted guidelines and best practices. Burke Library staff involved in organizing, curating, and/or installing exhibits or displays are deemed to be acting within the course of official duties and under the authority of LITS. The LITS Exhibits Advisory Committee, in consultation with the LITS Strategic Leadership Team, will be responsible for updating and revising this policy.
The display of objects (physical and virtual) is an important part of providing a welcoming and pleasant space for the Hamilton community and its visitors and also enriches the LITS service and outreach programs.
- Promote and support the LITS' strategic directions, services, resources, and the scholarly value of its diverse collections
- Promote and support Hamilton College and greater community events, people, history, programs, symposia, activities, and accomplishments
Definition of an Exhibit and Display
- An EXHIBIT is a selection of items (either physical or virtual) paired with accompanying textual, visual, or auditory content (descriptions/interpretations) which serves as a form of communication between the library and its patrons.
Exhibits should have associated learning outcomes and often, but not always, require considerable research. Learning outcomes do not need to be formal. Because library exhibits serve as an open educational environment, learning outcomes will likely focus on an affective change in the audience—a change of feeling, a motivation to learn more, etc.
- A DISPLAY is a selection of items (either physical or virtual) with little to no accompanying text or provided interpretation. Displays can be, but are not required to be, ancillary to an exhibit.
- Book displays, Hamilton College faculty publications displays, themed displays
Purpose and Content of Exhibits and Displays
- The purpose of a LITS exhibit and/or display is to communicate meaning through a collection of items (bibliographic, physical, or digital).
Lord and Piacente, in Manual of Museum Exhibitions Exhibits (Rowan & Littlefield, 2014), state that the purpose of an exhibit “is to transform some aspect of the visitor’s interests, attitudes, or values affectively, due to the visitor’s discovery of some level of meaning in the objects or content on display…” (p. 12).
- Additionally, all exhibits/displays should be in furtherance of the LITS vision, mission, and goals as well as the educational goals and curriculum of the College.
Who May Exhibit in Burke Library?
- Priority is given to members, organizations, and departments in the Hamilton community.
- All displays are ultimately managed by LITS and final curatorial decisions are the purview of LITS.
Frequency and Duration of Exhibits
- Exhibit duration should be set in consultation with the LITS Exhibits Committee.
- Installation and de-installation should take 1-2 days, depending on exhibit complexity
- Installation and de-installation must take place during hours that Burke Library is open to the public.
Exhibit Proposal Process
- Contact LITS Exhibits Committee (listed below)
- The Committee will then appoint a LITS liaison to assist with an approved exhibit
- The LITS Exhibits Committee reserves the right to approve or disapprove exhibit requests, and give final approval for the layout of the exhibit, exhibit duration, placement of exhibit, and content of exhibit promotion.
- The LITS Exhibits Committee will follow a process for Dispute Resolution when concerns are raised about exhibit content or depiction.
- The LITS Exhibits Committee reserves the right to remove or shut down an exhibit that is not in compliance with safety or ADA guidelines, or endangers patrons in any way.
Criteria for Selection
- The following criteria apply as exhibit proposals are considered, although not all exhibits will meet all criteria. LITS reserves the right 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.
- Educational content ranging from advanced scholarly contributions to general informational value
- Broadness of appeal of the main theme
- Appropriateness of subject, technique, and style for intended location and audience
- Relation to other events or exhibits in the community
- Should not endorse the political, religious, or social doctrines of any single person or group, or support the financial profit of any individual, organization, or commercial enterprise
- Ease and cost of installation
- Maintains public safety expectations and adheres to ADA compliance
Exhibit Locations and Display Policies
- Burke Library has a limited number of physical and virtual exhibit locations.
- Potential exhibitors should discuss locations with the Committee.
Procedures to Mount and Dismantle Approved Exhibits
- The exhibitor should work with the designated LITS liaison to verify the schedule and resolve any problems involving library equipment and materials.
- LITS liaisons may assist in the curation, preparation, mounting or dismounting of exhibits, if necessary.
- Mounting and dismounting of exhibits should be done during business hours on weekdays.
- LITS is not responsible for the damage of any non-Hamilton College owned materials.
- Library research service and the expertise of other staff subject specialists is available to exhibitors, as to all other library users, for guidance in the location of relevant library materials, assistance in preparation of exhibit-related bibliographies, and consultation on exhibit technique.
- 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 LITS.
Guidelines for Safe and Proper Display
- 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.
- Exhibitors must remain mindful of the primary function of the building.
- Reasonable efforts must be made to accommodate different types of access.
- Exhibitors may contact the Research and Community Engagement Librarian for assistance with any publicity.
- Publicity could include social media posts, LITS news stories, assistance with 25Live, and referral to Campus Communications.
Exhibits Materials Handling, Exhibit Text/Labels, Exhibiting Support Materials
Exhibits Materials Handling:
- Exhibitors must handle books and artifacts gently and with conservation concerns in mind. In consultation with Special Collections staff, books should be displayed on bookstands, cradles or supports.
- Special Collections staff and Librarians are experienced in the proper handling and display of unique and fragile materials, and can provide guidance to library exhibitors.
- Special arrangements should be made in advance for consultation and questions by contacting the Director and Curator of Special Collections and Archives.
- The method of displaying any Hamilton College Library materials must be approved by Special Collections staff or Librarians.
- All Hamilton College Library materials must have the location changed to “On Display” by Special Collections or Circulation staff.
- Display lettering and explanatory information should be neat and accurate.
- Ownership of items on display should be clearly identified.
- The organization or group sponsoring the exhibit must be visibly and prominently shown.
- Text should be word processed and printed on a high quality printer if not professionally designed and/or typeset.
- Typeface should be a legible font such as Times New Roman, Century, Gil Sans, Baskerville, Copperplate Gothic, or Arial.
- Text should have contrast, such as black on white.
- Introductory panels should be 150-170 words or less.
- Captions for individual items should be 20-30 words.
- Font size should be at least 28 point for introductory text panels. For secondary text panels, 18 point is acceptable if the reader can be within 20 inches. For text that only contains a few lines of copy, 14 point is acceptable.
Exhibit Support Materials:
- Bibliographies, brochures, and other promotional material and/or instructional materials to accompany an exhibit are strongly recommended but not mandatory.
- Exhibitors are responsible for preparing the content of the publications associated with their exhibit. Examples include: a bibliographical list of items displayed; a double sided brochure; an exhibit catalog.
Social Media Guidelines
- LITS actively participates in social media to:
- Reach out and engage the students, staff, faculty, alumni, and friends of Hamilton College.
- Cultivate an open, professional, and responsive dialog.
- Promote the value and importance of the services offered by LITS.
- Showcase LITS events and campus happenings.
- Promote research tips and useful tools for scholarship.
- The development of LITS’s social media presence is a collaborative effort that is moderated by more than one person. All LITS staff are encouraged to contribute content. Please contact the LITS Exhibits Committee for more information on the LITS social media accounts. Student workers may assist with crafting content.
- An exhibit may be cancelled or removed if it does not conform to these Guidelines & Best Practices.
- Challenges of a display, exhibit, or printed materials posted or displayed in Burke Library may be sent in writing to the LITS Exhibits Advisory Committee (listed below). The Committee will respond to written statements as follows:
- The individual will be notified that the LITS Exhibits Advisory Committee has received their written statement of concern.
- A review process will be conducted in a timely manner by the LITS Exhibits Advisory Committee in response to an individual's statement of concern.
- Upon completion of the review process, the LITS Exhibits Advisory Committee will notify the individual of their decision.
- LITS Exhibits Committee
- Christian Goodwillie, Director and Curator of Special Collections
- Jeremy Katz, College Archivist
- Kristin Strohmeyer, Research and Community Engagement Librarian (Chair)
- LITS Exhibits Advisory Committee - membership is approved by the VP for LITS
- Beth Bohstedt, Director, Learning & Research Services
- Shay Foley, Director, Metadata and Digital Strategies (Chair)
- Christian Goodwillie, Director and Curator of Special Collections
- Jeremy Katz, College Archivist
- Lisa McFall, Associate Director, Digital Initiatives and Technology
- Nhora Serrano, Associate Director for Digital Learning & Research
- Kristin Strohmeyer, Research and Community Engagement Librarian
- Mark Tillson, Assistant to the Vice President for Libraries & Information Technology