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?