Borrowing Library Materials for Exhibitions

Exhibition Policy: Outgoing Loans from Library Collections

The University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Library recognizes the importance of its collections of original documents, rare books, prints, photographs, cultural artifacts and other primary sources. The Library supports lending material from its collections to institutions for exhibition to disseminate these cultural treasures to a broader community.

The Library’s outgoing exhibition loan policy ensures the safety and security of its collections. Materials are not loaned to individuals or for profit organizations. The Library lends unique materials to institutions with the capability of safely exhibiting each item in its unique format. A decision to lend original materials depends on their condition and value. In some cases, a surrogate may be an appropriate substitute for the original. Proposals in alignment with the mission of the University of Hawaiʻi and the Library may be prioritized, when there are competing demands.

Criteria for Considering Outgoing Loans

  • Value of the potential educational impact to be gained by the proposed loan 
  • Need for requested materials in current or pending in-house exhibits or research 
  • Physical condition of the materials and the associated handling and exposure
  • Potential issues of cultural sensitivity inherent in the loan and use of the materials
  • Agreement between institutions on responsibilities and ability to pay all associated costs regarding the loan
  • Borrowing institution’s demonstrated ability to provide security, professional handling and appropriate environmental conditions during loan period (see conditions below)

Exhibition Loan Requests

The following are required to initiate a loan request:

  1. A formal letter of request from the director or exhibition curator addressed to our University Librarian or by email: library@hawaii.edu with a copy to the librarian responsible for the materials:
    University Librarian
    University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa
    2550 McCarthy Mall
    Honolulu, HI 96822
  2. The final title, a description of the exhibition, and venue(s)
  3. Specific dates the loans are needed, inclusive of transportation, acclimation, installation, deinstallation, and return
  4. An itemized list of the loans requested
  5. A General Facilities Report for each of the proposed exhibition venue(s)

The minimum required lead time is 6 to 12 months, depending on the complexity of logistics (customs, number of works requested, framing and conservation needs).

Outgoing Exhibition Loans: Process and Roles

Librarian Responsible for the Requested Material

Exhibition loans are at the sole discretion of the librarian in charge of the material, provided that all the required conditions are met. The Librarian reviews the initial inquiry within the established criteria and consults with the Preservation Librarian on any concerns regarding the condition of the materials and the borrower’s facilities. A recommendation to approve or deny the request is then made to the University Librarian. The Librarian serves as the primary point of contact for the duration of approved loans. Responsibility falls to the department chair, in the absence of a subject Librarian. 

University Librarian

The University Librarian reviews the loan request and the recommendation by the librarian overseeing the collection. All approved Loan Agreements are signed by the University Librarian or designee.

Preservation Librarian 

The Preservation Librarian or designated staff will review the Borrower’s General Facilities Report(s), examine materials to determine if they can be safely exhibited at one or more venues and if conservation treatment is required to stabilize items before lending. The Preservation staff will complete a condition report before the materials leave the library, and reexamine them upon return, to note any changes in condition.


The Borrower is the representative from the institution or department that requests the loan of Library collections for exhibition outside of the Library. The Borrower is the chief legal contact for the loan and ensures that all agreed upon conditions are met, including payment of associated costs.

Outgoing Loan Packet

After initial approval, the following must be submitted to the University Librarian before materials are released for loan:

Facilities Report(s)

The borrowing institution will be asked to provide an up-to-date General Facilities Report (GFR available through the American Alliance for Museums) for each proposed exhibition venue that specifies the borrowing institution’s capacity to protect the Library collections. For duplicate and circulating materials, the Librarian may waive the full GFR and substitute specified items in the ACRL/RBMS Outline for facility report.

Library Loan Agreement

This document officially releases Library collections to the Borrower. The agreement must be signed and dated by the University Librarian and Borrower. The Borrower’s loan agreement may be substituted only if it covers all of the conditions required by the Library.

Certificate of Insurance

The Library must receive proof of all-risk wall-to-wall insurance coverage from the borrower’s company, indicating that coverage is in full force, with University of Hawai‛i Library named beneficiary or “additional insured” on the policy before loans leave the Library. The certificate should include a statement of the policy’s standard exclusions.  In the case of loans without a market value, the Librarian may waive the certificate of insurance requirement. 

The original correspondence and agreement should be kept in the Library Administration office under “Outgoing Exhibition Loans.”

Exhibition Expenses

Lending Fee

The Library does not charge a fee for the loan of Library materials. Required services may be charged to the borrower on a cost recovery basis.

Conservation Treatment

If treatment is necessary to stabilize the materials before exhibit, the borrower will be informed of the estimated cost. Once the cost of treatment is approved, the borrower will be invoiced for the treatment expense.

Transportation and Logistics

Costs for any required packing, crating, overseas shipping and handling, customs charges, matting, framing, the construction of custom book cradles or other support mounts will be billed to the borrower. For a specific item or group of materials of high value, a courier may be required to deliver, install and dismantle the items and return them to the Library.

Photography and Scanning

The Library may produce high-resolution images of the loaned materials for use in a catalog or for other exhibition-related purposes. Bibliographic labels and credit lines must be published exactly as stated by the Librarian in charge of the collection. Separate written permission to publish may be required from the Library or copyright holder, subject to additional fees.


The Library will provide the value of the loans at fair market value. For high value items, the borrower may be required to pay for a professional appraisal. The borrowing institution, at its own expense, must cover the items involved with an all-risk, wall-to-wall fine arts insurance policy, with the University of Hawai‛i Library named beneficiary or “additional insured.”


Any change in condition may require conservation treatment during or after the loan period. An invoice for appropriate charges will be sent to the borrower. Please see more details on the Loan Agreement Conditions.

Handling and Environmental Conditions

The Library reserves the right to specify the conditions for exhibiting any individual item, and to verify that the required conditions can be maintained at the loan venue. 

Consistent Temperature and Humidity

For most paper-based materials, the Library requires temperature in exhibition, packing, and storage areas be maintained in a range of 68-72 F, with minimal fluctuations, and relative humidity should be kept in a range of 45-55%, with fluctuations of no more than 5% in any 24-hour period. Sensitive and/or rare materials will not be loaned to venues with temperature exceeding 75F or humidity above 60%; sensitive materials may require stricter conditions.

Gallery Preparation

Collections can be irreversibly damaged if exhibited in a harmful environment for even a short period of time. Therefore, the Library reserves the right to specify the conditions for any individual item, and verify through site visits or a General Facilities Report that the required conditions can be maintained at the loan venue.

Paint cans, rollers, sawdust and oils should be cleared from the location in the gallery before the loaned objects are delivered for installation. The objects must always be in a clean, pest free, secure and climate-controlled area. 

The Library recommends zero VOC paint for walls and pedestals. Fresh paint should be allowed to off-gas for a minimum of two weeks before the installation of Library materials in the venue. 

Exhibit Cases and Vitrines

Cases should be covered with acrylic sheeting or glass with an ultraviolet filter. Cases must be dirt-free, dust-proof and secured.

Handling and Installation

Loaned objects may only be handled by trained professional staff (curator, conservator, preparator) at the borrowing institution. If the loan takes place on the University campus, the Library’s preservation staff or the Librarian responsible for the collection may help install original and fragile materials and/or recommend installation methods. Object moves should be planned ahead to minimize repeated or frequent handling.

Light Exposure

The loan period for light-sensitive items may be restricted to a short period, or the Library may require that items be rotated or pages turned at set intervals during the exhibition. No original Library materials are to be exhibited in or near direct or reflected sunlight. A plan to block or filter such light should be attached to the General Facilities Report.

Lighting in the exhibition area should adhere to the following guidelines for paper-based Library materials: All light sources must be filtered to remove the ultraviolet component. Care must be taken to limit heat from lighting in cases.

Maximum 10 foot candles/100 lux for most printed book pages, broadsides, posters and black-and- white silver gelatin photographs.

Maximum 5 foot candles/50 lux for most manuscripts, textiles (including cloth book covers), original prints, colored papers, drawings, watercolors, miniatures, blueprints, color photographs, 19th-century photographs (e.g. albumen prints, salt prints). 

Maximum 25 foot candles/250 lux for oil on canvas or board.

Flash photography must not be permitted in the exhibition venue. Film crews and press photographers should not use flood lights near light sensitive materials such as watercolors, textiles and historic photographs.


The exhibition should be regularly patrolled by professional security personnel or other trained personnel during hours of public access. The gallery should have a 24-hour electronic security system in place to monitor movement and other changes in the environment during closed hours.

Right to recall

Hamilton Library reserves the right to recall an item at any time if the terms of the loan are not met for the duration of the loan period.

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