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David Lee King

Photo Permissions at the Library



Photo 6A couple of weeks ago, Jessamyn over at librarian.net posted about her experience with photo permissions at a library she was visiting. Interesting story – make sure to read the comments!

That reminded me that my  library recently redid our photo permission policy. Like many libraries, our previous photo policy required us to get everyone appearing in the photos to sign-off before we could use the photo … which was pretty hard to do. We ended up not taking many photos!

So, a group of us (admin, me, and a some of our marketing team) met with our lawyer to get some clarification … and ended up with a more flexible, modern photo permissions guidelines!

Here’s what we do now (reposted from our staff website):

A recent conversation with the library’s attorney led to some changes in how we proceed with taking pictures and/or video of our library customers. We hope this encourages more photographing and videotaping of library moments and publishing of them online.

When Do We Need to Use Photo Permission Forms?

For Models. For example, say you bring in your child, grandkid, cousin, friend, etc. and shoot photos of him or her, he or she is acting as a model and needs to sign a photo permission form.

For Close-ups. For example, you are holding a program. You take a close-up photo of one child because you love the expression on that child’s face. You need that child (or his or her parent in this case) to sign a photo permission form.

When Do I Not Need to Use the Form?

At programs held at the library. Want to take pictures at your program? Now it’s easier than ever. (yeah! no more backs-of-heads shots!) In lieu of photo permission forms, programers will need to announce at the beginning of each program that “the library may photograph or videotape you for library promotional purposes. Notify library staff if you do not want to be photographed.” HOWEVER,  if you zoom in for a close-up on one particular person in a large group, you will still need to get a photo permission form signed from that person.

In addition, Communications/Marketing has placed the following announcement in Oct./Nov.‘s connectnow, where it will be published with each edition. That does not mean you can neglect to make the announcement at the beginning of each program.

“Programs, events and classes are photographed or videotaped for library promotional purposes. Notify library staff if you prefer not to be photographed.”

That is not to take the place of the official announcement at the beginning of each event.

So – much easier paperwork for us (as in almost none). Also, this allows us to walk around the library and take random shots that we can use on our website, etc. This of course just applies to library staff. Patrons can take photos in our library – no problems. If they are setting up a formal photo session (we have that once in awhile) or if they are local news organizations, they need to talk to our head of marketing and communications first.

That’s what we do, anyway. What types of permissions does your library need for photographs at the library?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • http://librarianbyday.net Bobbi Newman

    David – We just (last month) passed a policy on photographs (we included video recordings too) in the library. It essentially says the same things yours does. It also includes two additional points
    1. the email address that allows patrons to submit photos to our flickr account directly.
    2. We will not identify patrons by name in photos and videos without written consent.

  • http://librarianbyday.net Bobbi

    David – We just (last month) passed a policy on photographs (we included video recordings too) in the library. It essentially says the same things yours does. It also includes two additional points
    1. the email address that allows patrons to submit photos to our flickr account directly.
    2. We will not identify patrons by name in photos and videos without written consent.

  • David Lee King

    Bobbi – nice additions. You allow patrons to submit photos to your library’s Flickr account? That is COOL!

  • David Lee King

    Bobbi – nice additions. You allow patrons to submit photos to your library’s Flickr account? That is COOL!

  • Rosario Garza

    Very sensible change. If you’ve ever been to any of the big OCLC meetings at ALA, they have notices that basically say the same thing.

  • Rosario Garza

    Very sensible change. If you’ve ever been to any of the big OCLC meetings at ALA, they have notices that basically say the same thing.

  • http://librarianbyday.net Bobbi Newman

    David – we do allow patron submissions to Flickr via the email address. The default settings make the images as “private” and a staff member will have to approve them and change the viewing option to “public”, which is fast & easy to do.

  • http://librarianbyday.net Bobbi

    David – we do allow patron submissions to Flickr via the email address. The default settings make the images as “private” and a staff member will have to approve them and change the viewing option to “public”, which is fast & easy to do.

  • http://www.lincolnlibraries.org/ Peter Jorgensen

    Our policy is very similar to what you’re doing now. One change we recently made was to our release form. Previously it only specified that photos (etc.) could be used in our own publications and on our own Web site. This was changed to specifically allow us to put them on other sites for Library purposes, so there’s no question about whether we can put them on flickr or our YouTube channel, for example.

  • http://www.lincolnlibraries.org Peter Jorgensen

    Our policy is very similar to what you’re doing now. One change we recently made was to our release form. Previously it only specified that photos (etc.) could be used in our own publications and on our own Web site. This was changed to specifically allow us to put them on other sites for Library purposes, so there’s no question about whether we can put them on flickr or our YouTube channel, for example.

  • http://librarian.net/ jessamyn

    How cool to see this here, way to go library!

  • http://librarian.net jessamyn

    How cool to see this here, way to go library!

  • http://www.alleganycountylibrary.info/ john taube

    We agree, for programs we use the “opt-out” option if you do not wish to be included in library photos. Thanks

  • http://www.alleganycountylibrary.info john taube

    We agree, for programs we use the “opt-out” option if you do not wish to be included in library photos. Thanks

  • Winnie

    If folks from other juristictions are reading this, ie I’m in beautiful British Columbia, you need to take your own legal advise. We have the toughest privacy laws in Canada and it is a nightmare. In the US who looks after this – the federal or state?

  • Winnie

    If folks from other juristictions are reading this, ie I’m in beautiful British Columbia, you need to take your own legal advise. We have the toughest privacy laws in Canada and it is a nightmare. In the US who looks after this – the federal or state?

  • David Lee King

    Winnie – thanks for the comment! In the US, generally it’s legal to take pics in a public place, even of people. There are some great resources discussing this (sorry – don’t have the links handy). But for libraries, narrower policies are up to the individual library (or their parent organization).

  • David Lee King

    Winnie – thanks for the comment! In the US, generally it’s legal to take pics in a public place, even of people. There are some great resources discussing this (sorry – don’t have the links handy). But for libraries, narrower policies are up to the individual library (or their parent organization).

  • Cielle

    Never understood why we needed permissions when the newspapers could come in and take pictures at our programs without getting permission. We’re still doing backs of heads and permissions.

  • Cielle

    Never understood why we needed permissions when the newspapers could come in and take pictures at our programs without getting permission. We’re still doing backs of heads and permissions.

  • http://coollibrarianblog.blogspot.com/ Jessica

    As the “newish” director of a library that has very few written policies on file, we haven’t done any real photographing. But your policy sounds very reasonable and “doable,” so I will probably run with something very similar! Thanks for posting this!

  • http://coollibrarianblog.blogspot.com Jessica

    As the “newish” director of a library that has very few written policies on file, we haven’t done any real photographing. But your policy sounds very reasonable and “doable,” so I will probably run with something very similar! Thanks for posting this!

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  • http://jimmythegeek.livejournal.com/ Jim Peterson

    We have a policy that only pertains to juveniles attending our game night program. It is basically a media release that lets the parent/guardian signing it know that their child may be used for promotional purposes by the library. Otherwise, it’s best not to capture faces. I also ran into this policy at the Multnomah County Public Library when I was in Portland earlier this Fall.

  • http://jimmythegeek.livejournal.com Jim Peterson

    We have a policy that only pertains to juveniles attending our game night program. It is basically a media release that lets the parent/guardian signing it know that their child may be used for promotional purposes by the library. Otherwise, it’s best not to capture faces. I also ran into this policy at the Multnomah County Public Library when I was in Portland earlier this Fall.

  • Barbara

    Our local library has a media permission form but not all staff adhere to it because there is not a clear cut policy in place spelling out our obligations. People sort of do what they want. How long are you supposed to keep the release forms on file?

  • Barbara

    Our local library has a media permission form but not all staff adhere to it because there is not a clear cut policy in place spelling out our obligations. People sort of do what they want. How long are you supposed to keep the release forms on file?

  • David Lee King

    Barbara – I think the amount of time you keep the forms depends on the organization. We keep them indefinitely (not that anyone has ever requested to look at them). Not sure what other organizations do!

  • David Lee King

    Barbara – I think the amount of time you keep the forms depends on the organization. We keep them indefinitely (not that anyone has ever requested to look at them). Not sure what other organizations do!

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  • Matt Gorzalski

    Being in archives, I thought this blog post was going to be about photo permission use forms/fees for publications, presentations, private study, films, etc., and the (what I consider) rediculous fees archives charge users for photograph reproductions. Those fees drive me crazy, but it is commonplace in archives. Interesting, though, to know more about what we can and can’t do at KSHS when photographing for promotional purposes.

  • Matt Gorzalski

    Being in archives, I thought this blog post was going to be about photo permission use forms/fees for publications, presentations, private study, films, etc., and the (what I consider) rediculous fees archives charge users for photograph reproductions. Those fees drive me crazy, but it is commonplace in archives. Interesting, though, to know more about what we can and can’t do at KSHS when photographing for promotional purposes.

  • K. S.

    Can a library just put the disclaimer on their fliers and SRP booklets without announcing at the beginning of each program? Unfortunately, with all the distractions at the beginning of the event, announcing it can be forgotten.

    “Programs, events and classes are photographed or videotaped for library promotional purposes. Notify library staff if you prefer not to be photographed.”

  • K. S.

    Can a library just put the disclaimer on their fliers and SRP booklets without announcing at the beginning of each program? Unfortunately, with all the distractions at the beginning of the event, announcing it can be forgotten.

    “Programs, events and classes are photographed or videotaped for library promotional purposes. Notify library staff if you prefer not to be photographed.”

  • David Lee King

    Matt – how funny! Yep – archives and fees is a whole other can of worms, most definitely.

  • David Lee King

    Matt – how funny! Yep – archives and fees is a whole other can of worms, most definitely.

  • David Lee King

    K. S. – depends on the library and their policies, I’d guess. My library doesn’t always have a handout, so that wouldn’t work for us. And the brief announcement is much easier than permission forms, so we feel we’re much better off.

  • David Lee King

    K. S. – depends on the library and their policies, I’d guess. My library doesn’t always have a handout, so that wouldn’t work for us. And the brief announcement is much easier than permission forms, so we feel we’re much better off.

  • http://librarian.net/ jessamyn

    update: Des Moines public changed their policy!!

  • http://librarian.net jessamyn

    update: Des Moines public changed their policy!!

  • David Lee King

    Jessamyn – that is awesome!

  • David Lee King

    Jessamyn – that is awesome!

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  • royce kitts

    Good stuff. You have laid it out pretty nicely. Now I have to unlearn the techniques of trying to take really good back of head shots. Now every library photo won't include my son as the main subject.

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