Policy on Photography at the DC Public Library

Policy on Photography at the DC Public Library

Policy Statement
The most significant priority for the DC Public Library is to provide library services to the community, as described in the library’s mission statement. The photography described below is allowed only to the extent that it does not interfere with the provision of library services and is consistent with the library’s mission statement and rules.

This policy statement explains the library’s method for ensuring that all photography done by outside parties on the library’s premises is conducted in an organized manner.

The terms “photograph” or “photography” means any method including photography, filming, videotaping or any other process of still image or audiovisual capturing in any method used now or in the future that is subject to the United States Copyright Act. (17 USC 101 et. Seq.)

DC Public Library shall include the following:
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library
  • Buildings designated as neighborhood libraries
  • Buildings and locations designated as interim libraries
  • Bookmobiles and kiosks
  • All other property and facilities assigned to the library
Amateur Photography
Casual amateur photography by patrons and visitors wanting a memento of their visit is permitted in library facilities so long as additional equipment such as lighting is not used.

General Policy Regarding Permission
Permission is not required for photographing public areas, if no tripods, lights or other specialized equipment is used. However, public areas do not include reading rooms, stacks, exhibition areas or other areas and/or events where photographing is prohibited by signage.

For all other photographing, requests for permission must generally be made at least 24 hours prior to the photographing. Permission must be requested on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. when the Office of Communication is normally open.

Approvals of Requests
The Chief Librarian, or her/his designee in the Office of Communication, is authorized to grant permission to photograph the interior of library buildings, setting the conditions under which the photographing may take place, or to deny permission.

Factors Considered for Approval
The Chief Librarian, or her/his designee in the Office of Communication will consider and act upon requests for permission to photograph considering:
  • The public interest
  • Statutory requirements
  • The library’s interest
  • The interests of the D.C. Government
  • Issues of confidentiality
  • The need to conserve the time of employees for conducting official business
  • The amount of time each project will consume
  • The need to maintain impartiality among competing photographers 
  • Any other purpose that the Chief Librarian, or her/his designee in the Office of Communication deems to be in the interest of the DC Public Library

Exterior Photography
Photographing the exteriors of library buildings does not require permission; photography may not impede the ingress or egress of visitors or staff to or from any library building.

Media Requests
While the DC Public Library has an open door policy for news media photographers and reporters whose stories directly involve the library’s programs, resources, collections, and services, obtaining advance permission is extremely important to:
  • Safeguard the Library’s collections
  • Protect the safety of those using library facilities
  • Ensure library business is conducted without disruption
  • Ensure that the library’s users are not disturbed
Research photography of the library's materials and resources is permitted within certain limitations.  Using library facilities as interview venues for unrelated stories as well as photographing library patrons for opinion polls or “man on the street” interviews is prohibited.

Media representatives must obtain approval from the Chief Librarian, or her/his designee in the Office of Communication, and must be accompanied by a member of the Office of Communication during all photographing.

Nonprofit, Academic or Research Projects
Photographers working on nonprofit, academic, or research projects must secure authorization in advance to avoid disrupting library operations.

Researchers and journalists are responsible for obtaining their own permissions when photographing copyrighted material in the library.  Additional permissions must be obtained from the DC Public Library to photograph materials or items in special collections because of complex copyright issues in these areas. Discussing what advance authorizations are required with a special collections staff member can expedite this process.

Photography for Groups and Nonlibrary Events in the Conference Center or Meeting Facilities
Groups arranging meetings in library meeting facilities may arrange for photographers and news media during their event. Photography for such events is restricted to the space reserved by the group and may not take place in other areas of the library.

Commercial Photography
Library buildings may not be used as setting for a creative film or videotape, advertisements, fashion shoots or for any other photography which will be used for commercial purposes without the prior approval from the Chief Librarian, or her/his designee in the Office of Communication.

Movie Industry
The library may permit use of its facilities by the movie or music industry for film projects where a library setting is called for, if the project does not interfere with the mission of the DC Public Library, is in accordance with the rest of this policy and does not advertise or promote commercial products. Filming may not be related to political campaigns or to partisan issues, because the DC Public Library wishes to avoid any appearance, no matter how slight, of impropriety or impression of political preference. These projects must be approved in advance through the D.C. Office of Motion Pictures, with details worked out in advance with the library. Such filming may take place only during hours when the library is closed, and all equipment must be removed during the library’s operating hours. The production company shall compensate the library for staffing expenses necessary to open, secure, and monitor library premises during a shoot at overtime rates.

Library Liability for Injuries
Permission to photograph does not release the persons or groups involved from liability for injuries to persons or property that result from their activities on library property.

Photographic Releases
Photographers filming or photographing on library premises have sole responsibility for gaining all necessary releases and permissions from persons who can be identified in any photography.  The library undertakes no responsibility for obtaining these releases.

Photography Logistics
Approved photography and interviews shall usually be limited to two hours. In addition, the library’s Office of Communication may terminate any session that appears to compromise public safety or security of people, buildings, or collections.

Adopted by the Board of Library Trustees 
November 19, 2008.