Hosted Exhibit Policy

Exhibits are a valuable part of the Maureen and Mansfield Library’s public services outreach and user education program. Exhibits inform and promote the library’s information resources and services. Exhibits provide an excellent opportunity for the library to engage in collaborative projects, especially with faculty members and others in the University of Montana community.

The Mansfield Library hosts a variety of exhibitions; some use selected materials from the collections, others are traveling exhibits of artifacts, photographs, documents, and books from external partners.

This policy defines the philosophy and goals for hosted exhibits and public art displays in the Mansfield Library; identifies responsibility for these programs, and defines acceptance guidelines and general policies. Hosted exhibits are defined as exhibits involving items or artifacts contributed for a set, temporary period of time by an individual or on tour from an agency, museum or association. This policy does not cover exhibits created by Archives and Special Collections. 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 Montana and the Mansfield Library.

Have an exhibit idea?

Contact a librarian regarding exhibit ideas. View our employee directory for all contact information.

Submit a Display Request Form

Submit a form to request a panel, case, sculpture, or wall display here in Mansfield Library.

The mounting of exhibitions and the display of public art is an important part of providing welcoming and pleasant facilities; enriches the library’s service and outreach programs,  and furthers the Mansfield Library’s Mission and Vision to facilitate intellectual and creative pursuits, support education and cultural development, and enrich and transform lives.


  • 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, cultural,  aesthetic, and creative growth
  • Educate the university community on particular topics
  • Enhance the strategic mission and 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

Patrons are free to recommend ideas for exhibits to the library. Library employees may independently or, in collaboration with others, pursue exhibits that fit the library’s mission.

The library reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to approve or disapprove all external 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 library will 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 cultures
  • Vitality, originality, artistic expression, and experimentation
  • Ease and cost of installation

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

  • 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.

Security and Insurance

Exhibits are often located in high traffic areas whose visibility reduces the likelihood of damage or theft of materials; the library provides limited security measures, such as locked display cases, but is not responsible for the security or welfare of exhibits at any time, including during transport, installation, or dismantling. Special insurance or security requirements should be discussed with the library prior to the decision to host the exhibits.

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; freestanding 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 access for patrons with disabilities.

Best Practices

The Mansfield Library maintains high standards for its exhibits. Exhibits must be well prepared, well organized, and aesthetically pleasing. While some library exhibits can be scheduled months or even years in advance, the library values flexibility in scheduling to best respond in a timely way to suggestions, campus events, or other considerations.

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 one to three 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, Garamond, 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 must 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 library’s collections.


The Mansfield Library will develop an appropriate publicity and promotional plan. 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.

Exhibits Related Activities

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

Dispute Resolution

Mansfield Library exhibits build on the principles outlined in the Library Bill of Rights (American Library Association), the Freedom to Read Statement (American Library Association and Association of American Publishers), the Freedom to View Statement (American Film and Video Association), and An Affirmation to the Right to Information (Montana Library Association) and the best practices outlined by the Museum Best Practices for Managing Controversy.

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 the Mansfield Library may be sent in writing to the coordinators of exhibits. The coordinator will respond to written statements as follows:

  1. The individual will be notified that the library has received his/her written challenge.
  2. A review process will be conducted in a timely matter by the library in response to an individual’s statement of concern.
  3. While a concern is being considered, there will be no change in the status of the display, exhibit, or printed materials.
  4. Upon completion of the review process, the appropriate administrator will notify the individual of the library’s decision.
  5. The individual may appeal the decision to the Dean of Libraries.

To submit a challenge, please print and fill out the Request for Review of Library Exhibits form. Mail or return the form to the Mansfield Library Administrative Office.