Library Display Policy


The Clearwater Public Library System’s Display Policy provides a basis for the display of library materials by library staff, informs the public about the principles and criteria upon which these decisions are made, and promotes the purposes of the library's mission, which is:

To meet the informational, educational, recreational, and cultural reading, listening, and viewing needs and expectations of all citizens and population groups in the community, using a wide array of library formats and materials and a trained and dedicated staff.


The Clearwater Public Library System plays a vital role at the heart of the community by promoting full and equal access to information, encouraging the love of reading, enabling life-long learning, and empowering creativity. It will provide a responsive connection between the community’s needs, its collections, information technology, and diverse programming, by, in part, providing a variety of displays, both physical and virtual, that inform and enrich the lives of people of all ages and diverse backgrounds.

Principles and Criteria

The final responsibility for the display of library materials is held by the Library Director, but day-to-day responsibility is shared by professional and paraprofessional employees throughout the system. Library staff uses the following criteria in making decisions about display topics, materials, and accompanying resources:

  • Community needs and interest
  • Availability of display space
  • Historical, cultural, or educational significance
  • Connection to other community or national programs, exhibitions, or events
  • Relation to library collections, resources, exhibits, and programs

In addition, the Library draws upon other community resources in developing displays and exhibits, and may partner with other community agencies, organizations, educational institutions, or individuals to develop and present co-sponsored displays and exhibits.

The Library will strive to include a wide spectrum of opinions and viewpoints in library-initiated displays and exhibits, as well as offer displays and exhibits that appeal to a range of ages, interests, and information needs. Library-initiated displays and exhibits should not exclude topics, books, media, and other resources solely because they may be considered to be controversial. Acceptance of a display or exhibit topic by the Library does not constitute an endorsement by the Clearwater Public Library System or the city of Clearwater of the content of the display or exhibit, or of the views expressed in materials on display.

Intellectual Freedom and Censorship


The Library preserves the right of citizens to obtain information on all sides of potentially controversial issues so that each individual can decide for themselves the value of opposing ideas. In representing various sides of a question, the Library thus provides citizens with reliable sources of information on which to base intelligent decisions in their daily lives.

The Library has a responsibility to protect the rights of all patrons; displays which may be considered frank or offensive to some are permitted if they adhere to the Library’s Display Policy and contribute to the furtherance of its mission.

Only parents and legal guardians have the right and responsibility to restrict the access of their children to library resources. The display of materials is not inhibited by the possibility that particular works may inadvertently be seen by or come into the possession of children and young adults.

Labels will be provided only as viewpoint-neutral directional aids to facilitate access by making it easier for users to locate materials. The materials are displayed on open shelves and are equally accessible to all users, who may choose to consult or ignore the directional aids at their own discretion.

The American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, Freedom to Read, and Freedom to View statements are basic to the above policy.

Procedures for the Questioning of Library Displays by Patrons

In the event a patron has questions or concerns regarding a library display, the following procedures should be used:

  1. The patron is referred to a professional staff member.
    • This staff member makes every attempt to satisfy the patron's concern by clarifying the established display policies on an informal, positive, one-to-one basis.
    • After the interview, the staff member notifies the Library Director in a brief written statement as to the date, circumstances, and the result of the patron's concern.
  2. A patron who wishes to pursue their question further is referred to the Library Director or their designated alternate as soon as possible. A concern taken to this level constitutes a formalized complaint.
    • During the interview with the patron, the Director or designated alternate fills out one copy of the Request for Reconsideration of Library Material form.
    • The Director then appoints a three-member committee of professional staff members to review the display in question and prepare a written recommendation within ten (10) days.
    • The Director makes a decision based on the committee's recommendation.
    • The Director notifies the patron in writing of their decision within five (5) working days of receiving the committee's recommendation.
  3. A patron who wishes to make their objection known even further can forward their complaint directly to the Chairperson of the Library Advisory Board for consideration at the next regularly scheduled Board meeting.
    • A copy of the complaint submitted to the Board is forwarded to the Office of the City Manager.
    • The Library Board sends its recommendation to the Library Director.
    • The Library Director then reviews their original decision in the context of the Board recommendation and confirms or sends a revised opinion to the patron in writing, with a copy sent to the Library Advisory Board and to the Office of the City Manager.
    • The Library Director's decision on the complaint is final and without further appeal.

Reviewed February 2022