Chair: Serenity Ibsen
Board Liaison: Suzanne Rackover
Members: Amy Furness, Sarah Hamerman, Karly Wildenhaus, Lynora Williams (News Alerts Editor), Michael Wirtz

Committee Charge

Charge: To advise the Executive Board and the membership on governmental activities and social justice issues affecting the professional interests of ARLIS/NA and the fulfillment of its mission. To support this function, the Committee shall: (1) monitor  topics and issues affecting art libraries and visual resource collections, including art and activism, copyright and fair use, funding, image rights, intellectual freedom and open access, privacy, technology and workplace concerns; (2) draft position statements on legislative issues consistent with ARLIS/NA's interests for review and action by the Executive Board; (3) report  topics and issues affecting the profession in the Society's publications; (4) collect and review information about  policies concerning the interests of the Society and recommend appropriate action; (5) maintain liaison with other library and information societies as appropriate, monitor their activities and reports; (6) educate the membership on advocacy and public policy issues.

ARLIS/NA Position Statements

News Alerts

Advocacy and Public Policy News Alerts

Public Policy Committee Resources

Issues & Essential Links

Art, Activism, & Social Justice

The PPC monitors issues related to art, activism and social justice in recognition of the important role the arts play in politics and social struggles. Activist art has a long history in the United States and throughout the world in addressing such social justice topics as human trafficking, colonialism, women’s rights, feminism, civil rights, environmental and anti-globalization movements, LGBTQ movements, antiwar movements, workers’ rights, equality and immigration. 


Copyright, Fair Use & Fair Dealing

The PPC monitors changes in copyright and fair use law and practice. Copyright is an important issue for Art Libraries, it effects how we make our collections available, how we digitize our unique materials, and how we teach image use to artists, curators, and art historians. Fair Use, the legal but unauthorized use of copyrighted material is an important tool for libraries as outlined in the ARL Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries, but also a key tool for artists and art information professionals as seen in the CAA Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts. ARLIS/NA members work between both worlds, and must be familiar with developments in copyright and fair use in both contexts. 


Image Rights & Reuse

Image use and reuse is a key issue in the visual arts that is continuing to evolve. The PPC monitors developments in the practice and law of image availability, remix, and appropriation. Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums (GLAM) make their images available under a wide panoply of restrictions and licenses, often unrelated to copyright status. Recently a movement called OpenGLAM has advocated for “Open Access” image, and many institutions have made their images openly available. Appropriation, remix, and reuse are a vital part of a healthy art ecosystem, the boundaries, limits, and legality of which are currently being examined and even pushed. The CAA Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts have outlined guidelines for incorporating images into new works of art, and lawsuits against appropriation artists such as Richard Prince have set new precedents. Appropriation also raises issues of ethics as power dynamics play out in who appropriates from who: large companies appropriate artists for their advertisements, clothing, or decor; painters appropriate the work of photographers as their raw material; mainstream culture appropriates the cultural inventions of minority groups; among many others. 



Funding for libraries directly affects the quality of services, collections, and resources offered to the community. The PPC examines current events related to library funding with the goal of promoting awareness of opportunities as well as to spur advocacy for or against changes in funding practices. In addition, the Committee monitors activities and policies that impact the visual arts, design, and cultural heritage so that art information professionals will be better equipped to serve the needs of a broad audience with interests in education, scholarship, and artistic practice.


Intellectual Freedom & Access to Information

Both the arts and libraries are frequent targets of censorship efforts. Whether its offensive art being removed or attempts to ban books, Art Librarians have a duty to defend intellectual freedom and ensure users have access to information. Librarians are in a unique position to connect people with information making intellectual freedom, access to information, and censorship issues important to all librarians. The PPC aims to promote awareness of censorship risks and their effect on access to information.


Open Access

Open Access (OA) is the availability on the public internet of scholarly research without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The ARLIS/NA core values assert the value of arts scholarship, the role of art information professionals to serve a broad audience, and the importance of inclusion. These values compel the Art Librarians to engage the principles of the Open Access movement. The expense of scholarly subscriptions and the exclusion and lack of access that is created by high prices is highly concerning to art information professionals. We seek to reduce information inequality and increase access to information. To acknowledge these values, ARLIS/NA has openly available conference proceedings, news and events listings, art and multimedia reviews, professional development materials accessible through the Learning Portal, and many of its research and reports. 



Privacy is an important liberty that relates directly to free speech, security, and intellectual freedom. It compasses surveillance, data gathering, and research. What privacy means in this time is frequently changing and being challenged, and the PPC is dedicated to keeping on top of current movement in related issues. 


Technology & Telecommunications

Technology and telecommunications impact all types of libraries. It is especially important to monitor the regulation of the telecom industry as information access and security remain largely contingent upon broadband services. Cutting-edge technology trends and advancements are worth tracking for their potential impact on management and delivery of resources. They also point the way to changes in how libraries might function and serve their constituents. 


Other Resources & Related Organizations