Code of Conduct


The ARLIS/NA Code of Conduct (Code) reflects the vision, mission and values of our organization. The purpose of this Code is to establish community expectations and provide guidance for all ARLIS/NA activity participants. It applies to all modes of connecting and gathering within ARLIS/NA, including asynchronous and synchronous activities that are online, in-person, or hybrid. The Code of Conduct Team will weigh context and impact when making decisions (see After a Report is Made).

Click to Submit a Code of Conduct Violation Report

This is a living document that is meant to be updated iteratively, every other year, by the Executive Board or its designees with opportunities for member-at-large input and communication on major updates to the processes or community expectations. Systematic updates should reflect new technology, changes to ARLIS/NA in-person and online meeting formats, and other developments that impact the ways we conduct business, socialize, and learn.

Who the Code of Conduct Covers

The Code applies to all participants in any ARLIS/NA-hosted activity. Participants can include, but are not limited to: members, invited speakers, volunteers, exhibitors, event staff, and anyone who registers on an online platform hosted by ARLIS/NA. ARLIS/NA activities include those that are synchronous and asynchronous and can be in-person, online, or hybrid. Examples include but are not limited to: 

  • meetings (volunteer, member, or public)

  • electronic lists and forums (ARLIS-L, the Humanities Commons, and social media) 

  • events (town halls, webinars, tours, workshops, trainings, conferences, socials)

  • ARLIS/NA correspondence (emails, Slack channels, and phone calls)


The Code is designed to lend guidance to members and participants. Along with expectations, it provides a structure for addressing alleged unacceptable behavior. The interpretation and application of the Code is solely within the discretion of the Code of Conduct Team. By adopting this Code of Conduct, ARLIS/NA is not assuming a legal duty to follow or enforce the Code in any particular manner or situation. 

Community Expectations

ARLIS/NA is dedicated to providing collaborative experiences that are free from all forms of harassment and inclusive of all people. As a professional community, we expect conscious actions from our members and participants to foster a safe, supportive, reflective, and positive work environment. 

Behavior that is Expected and Encouraged

All participants must seek concrete ways to make in-person and online activities more welcoming and inclusive. As a society, we engage in respectful dialogue and suggest:

  • listening as much as you speak and remembering that colleagues may have expertise you are unaware of;

  • encouraging and yielding the floor to those whose viewpoints may be under-represented in a group;

  • using welcoming language, for instance, by honoring pronoun preferences and favoring gender-neutral collective nouns (“everyone,” not “guys”);

  • accepting critique graciously and offering it constructively; 

  • giving credit where it is due;

  • remembering you may not see the lived experiences or circumstances of other participants, so bring grace and positive assumptions to interactions;

  • staying alert, as active bystanders, to the welfare of those around you and to intervene when witnessing microaggressions (see Definitions and Bystander Intervention Resources).

Behavior that is Strictly Prohibited and Violates the Code

Sanctions for unacceptable behavior will be determined by the Code of Conduct Team (or the Executive Board in the case of appeals) and guided by the severity of the offense. While some violations will warrant restorative practices, others could incur penalties related to future participation in ARLIS/NA activities (see After a Report is Made). More information on unacceptable behavior can be found in Definitions, but the following are unacceptable and violate the Code:

  • Harassment or harassing behavior in any form, including discriminatory harassment and sexual harassment

  • Discrimination in any form, including unfavorable or disparate treatment to others because of any aspect of their identity, appearance, political affiliation, or protected class

  • Illegal Activity will be handled by legal entities and not the Code of Conduct Team, but could result in ARLIS/NA sanctions depending on the offense

Restorative Practice Responses to Microaggressions

Based on their definition, microaggressions can be intentional or unintentional. Recognizing someone may not understand they committed a microaggression, these violations can be reported under the Code but will be met with restorative practices under fair process principles. This could include restorative conferences and/or assigned educational training by way of readings, recordings, modules, etc. A restorative conference is a safe, facilitated dialogue between the reported person(s) and victims of the microaggression(s) with the goal of creating an amends agreement to prevent future offending. These practices are meant to manage conflict and tensions in a community by repairing harm and restoring relationships. This is done by viewing every instance of wrongdoing as an opportunity for learning. However, should a person repeatedly enact microaggressions in their behavior after restorative responses, more punitive sanctions can be warranted.

Information about restorative practices and fair process is remixed from Introduction to Restorative Practices [course packet], Amalia B. Hernandez, International Institute for Restorative Practices, March 15, 2016.

A Note on Intellectual / Academic Freedom

Content presented at ARLIS/NA activities may deal with sensitive subject matter, which could include explicit, subversive, radical, and non-normative material from the widest possible range of artistic expression and historical context. The Code is not intended to constrain scholarly or professional presentation, discourse, or debate. ARLIS/NA’s commitment to diversity and inclusion includes a commitment to intellectual and academic freedom and the freedom of expression. Indeed, as art information professionals, we are committed to exploring the full range of artistic practice in our discourse, services, and collections. We welcome engagement with difficult topics when done with respect and care.

Reporting Process

If you or others are in imminent danger, please call emergency services or 911. 

If you experience or witness a violation of the Code, please make a report as soon as you are able. Options for reporting violations include discussing concerns in-person with a member of the ARLIS/NA Code of Conduct Team and/or submitting a Violation Report online, or emailing

Click to Submit a Code of Conduct Violation Report

When You Report

ARLIS/NA takes your privacy and safety seriously. All reports and inquiries will be handled confidentially and the Code of Conduct Team will protect confidentiality in the reporting process to every extent possible.

If you supply your email address when submitting the Violation Report form, you will receive verification that your report was successfully submitted. Reports may be submitted anonymously; while these reports will be taken seriously, not disclosing key details (i.e. your information, the name of the reported person(s), or specifics of the incident) may inhibit the Team’s ability to investigate and take action.

We value your presence and constructive participation in our shared community, and thank you for your attention to the comfort, safety, and well-being of fellow ARLIS/NA collaborators and attendees.

When reporting Code of Conduct violations, the following information is helpful:

  • Your contact information 

  • Names (real, nicknames, or pseudonyms) of any individuals involved

  • Names of witnesses

  • Specific information about when and where the incident occurred

  • Your account of what occurred

  • Whether you believe this is an ongoing incident

  • Any other relevant information, such as links to social media posts or session recordings 

Actions in the Absence of a Formal Report

ARLIS/NA event organizers (including but not limited to coordinators, moderators, or tour guides) are empowered to take immediate action if they or someone within their physical or virtual space identifies a violation of the Code. Community members who violate the Code may be warned verbally and/or expelled during an in-person or online event at the discretion of the event organizers, even in advance of such violations being formally reported. During the annual conference, should a participant make a verbal report to an event organizer or volunteer, that organizer or volunteer should immediately contact a member of the Code of Conduct Team on site so they can respond and investigate quickly. Outside of the annual conference, an event organizer or volunteer (online or in-person) should provide the participant with the link to make a formal report, as a Code of Conduct Team member may not be present. 

After a Report is Made

Anyone who is asked to stop harassing or intimidating behavior is expected to comply immediately. 

See Resources for Crises, Victims, and Witnesses if needed. 

Steps the Code of Conduct Team will take after a report is made:

  • Assess the situation to determine whether immediate action is necessary to prevent further harm.

  • Confirm receipt of a digital Violation Report or provide access to the online form if the participant is making a verbal report.

  • Contact the person(s) making the report (if possible) to gather any additional information and determine how anyone harmed by the reported violation can be best supported.

  • Contact the reported person(s) who allegedly violated the Code to inform them an investigation will take place and request their participation in an interview as part of that process. Note: retaliation against the person(s) making the report will not be tolerated and will result in more severe sanctions.

  • Investigate the alleged violation to the extent that the details provided allow, including reviewing any provided documentation, interviewing the parties involved, interviewing any witnesses, and gathering additional documentation. 

  • Convene the Code of Conduct Team to review the findings of the investigation and decide what, if any action to take. 

  • The decision of the Code of Conduct Team shall be communicated in writing to the President of ARLIS/NA and the reported person(s) within 10 business days of finalization.

  • The President will inform the Executive Board that a Violation Report was reviewed, and the Code of Conduct Team’s chosen recourse; they will not share details such as the names of the reported person(s), names of the person(s) making the report, or the specifics of the incident(s) reported. 

  • The President will work with the Executive Director to enact the resulting sanctions after the window for appeal has passed. 

The procedure and length of time it takes to fully process a Violation Report will depend on the circumstances of the alleged violation. There is no time limit or statute of limitations on when reports may be submitted, but the closer a report is submitted to the time of an alleged violation, the more likely an investigation can uncover required details to determine appropriate sanctions.

Recusal from the Investigation

Code of Conduct Team member(s) or Executive Board member(s) will be required to recuse themself from investigations if they are a reported person or were an organizer of the activity (online, in-person, or hybrid). There could be other circumstances where recusal is appropriate, and it is the expectation for Team or Board members to voice potential conflicts of interest and recuse themselves from an investigation when this is the case.

If a person must recuse themself from the investigation, they may see the initial report but will not be allowed to participate in running the investigation or determining sanctions. They will also not be allowed to access any of the investigation or sanction records until after the team communicates the outcome in writing per the process outlined in the section above. As stated previously, retaliation against the person(s) making the report will not be tolerated and will result in more severe sanctions.


The severity of the offense will guide the ensuing sanction/s. Examples of possible sanctions include but are not limited to:

  • Issuing a written or verbal warning

  • Requiring the violator participate in a restorative conference (see Restorative Practice Responses to Microaggressions)

  • Removing comments, materials, or recordings with harmful content

  • Ending a presentation, meeting, or event early

  • Removing a person’s volunteer and/or committee responsibilities (appointed and elected)

  • Expelling a person from an event without warning or refund (including the annual conference)

  • Blocking or reporting a person on online platforms (social media, Humanities Commons, listservs, etc.)

  • Imposing a ban on future participation in the Society or its activities

  • Reporting a person’s behavior to the appropriate authorities

Appeal Process

Within 30 business days of receiving the written decision, the reported person(s) may seek to appeal. Note: the recusal requirements apply to the process outlined below.

  • A notice of appeal must be submitted by the reported person(s) to the President of ARLIS/NA in writing, and describe why they believe the decision should be changed. 

    • Should the President be the reported person, they should send their written appeal to, and the Team will work with the Management Company and Executive Board on how best to proceed with the appeal process.  

  • The President will ask the Code of Conduct Team to share documentation of the investigation including the report, discussion notes, and any recorded correspondence.

  • Names will be redacted from the provided documentation before it is passed to the Executive Board.

  • The Executive Board will review the appeal and investigation documentation in order to decide whether to affirm, reverse, or revise the initial decision.

  • The President will consult on any intended action with the person(s) making the report (if possible).

  • The President will communicate, in writing, the outcome of the appeal process to the reported person(s) as well as the person(s) making the report (if the initial report was not submitted anonymously). 

  • This decision cannot be appealed, and the President will work with the Executive Director to enact the resulting sanctions.

Who Applies the Code of Conduct

The Code of Conduct Team is responsible for reviewing and investigating alleged violations of the Code, and determining courses of action in response (see After a Report is Made). The Team is determined each Governance Year (from one annual conference to the next).

The Code of Conduct Team members are required to undergo training upon joining in order to ensure all reviewers of alleged violations of the Code have a set standard of shared knowledge about restorative and mediation best practices, and applying or enforcing codes of conduct. The Executive Director will be consulted as needed. The President will work with the Executive Director to enact the Code of Conduct Team’s determined sanctions after the window for appeal has passed. 

The team is comprised of:

  • The Advancement Liaison, serving as a representative of the Executive Board



Discrimination is the unjust or prejudicial treatment of others based on real or perceived characteristics or identities. (Sourced from AAAM.) Discrimination is unacceptable and subject to sanctions under the Code. 

Discriminatory actions can include unwelcome or offensive comments, as well as nonverbal expressions related to:

  • age 

  • appearance or body size

  • employment or military status

  • ethnicity

  • gender identity or expression

  • individual lifestyles 

  • language or nationality 

  • level of experience in the field 

  • marital status

  • national origin 

  • parental status 

  • physical or cognitive ability

  • political affiliation

  • race 

  • religious beliefs 

  • socio-economic status

  • sexual orientation


Harassment is unwelcome physical, verbal, written, or online conduct that is based on a person’s identity or protected class (discriminatory harassment), unwelcome behavior of a sexual or gendered nature (sexual harassment), or any behavior that interferes with an individual’s ability to participate in ARLIS/NA activities and otherwise creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment. Harassment is unacceptable and subject to sanctions under the Code. (This definition is remixed from Open Education Conference.)


Examples of harassing behavior in-person or online include but are not limited to:

  • Discriminatory harassment
    Unwelcome or offensive actions based on characteristics of identities including but not limited to: 

    • unwanted attention

    • abusive, derogatory, insulting, or offensive comments

    • jokes, slurs, or epithets

    • mocking, ridiculing, or mimicking another’s culture, accent, appearance, or custom

    • purposeful and/or repeated acts of misgendering, such as intentional deadnaming (referring to someone who has changed their name by their previous name) and intentional use of pronouns that do not correspond to a person’s gender identity or specified preference

  • Sexual harassment
    Unwelcome physical contact or sexual attention, including but not limited to: 

    • comments or dialogues of a physical/sexual nature

    • sexually explicit or suggestive language 

    • repeated flirtations, propositions, advances, or continued staring

    • explicit gestures or suggestive sounds (including whistling)

    • demands for sexual favors in exchange for favorable or preferential treatment

  • Other examples of harassment 

    • Bullying, intimidation, stalking, following, threats or acts of violence, or incitement of violence (including encouraging self-harm)

    • Continued one-on-one communication after requests to cease contact

    • Inappropriate use of nudity, sexual, or discriminatory images in public spaces, presentations, or in online environments (e.g., text, email, social media, etc.)

    • Publication of private information, including private communications (unless publication is necessary to protect oneself or others from intentional abuse) or deliberate “outing” of any aspect of a person’s identity without their consent

    • Suggestions of retaliation by the harasser if the harassed person(s) reports an incident

    • Sustained, non-constructive verbal and/or physical disruption of programming

    • Unwanted photography/recording

These definitions of harassment and list of examples were sourced and remixed from the previous ARLIS/NA Code of Conduct, AAAM, SAA, and Open Education Conference.


Microaggressions are an everyday exchange that cues a sense of subordination based on any one of a number of social identities, and they can be intentional or unintentional. Regardless of intent, microaggressions are often rooted in implicit bias, which are attitudes and beliefs that exist outside of our conscious awareness and control. Victims of microaggressions will feel as if an aspect of their identity wasn’t valued or respected. Many of the following examples can be avoided simply by getting to know each other better, practicing cultural humility, and respecting our diverse lived experiences.

The main categories of microaggressions under the Code are:

  • Microinvalidation - discrediting or minimizing the experiences of a person who is from an underrepresented group.

  • Microinsults - rude, insensitive comments that subtly disrespect any aspect of a person’s identity.

Examples of microaggressions include, but are not limited to:

  • Making assumptions / judgments

    • Assuming someone for whom English is not their first language will struggle with new instructions

    • Assuming someone is either unintelligent or smarter than average based on their appearance or accent

    • Assuming a new parent will not be interested in a leadership position

    • Questioning someone’s membership status such as “you don’t look disabled” or “you don’t seem that gay to me”

    • Assumption of criminality – guarding belongings more carefully when around certain groups or expressing fear of certain groups (i.e. clutching a bag closer when someone enters an elevator based on their appearance)

    • Eye rolling when someone mentions feeling invalidated

  • Denying experiences / denial of experiences or needs

    • Denying someone with an invisible disability an aisle seat when asked

    • Denying that someone experienced discrimination or minimizing their experiences of discrimination

    • Denial of racial reality, i.e. dismissing claims that race was/is relevant to understanding someone’s experience

    • Denial or devaluing experience or culture, i.e. assuming that others are like you and ignoring the existence, histories, and cultures of other people

    • Downplaying the impact of your words or actions after someone lets you know they were hurtful (i.e. “I was just kidding” or “that wasn’t my intention”)

    • Scheduling meetings or events that conflict with someone’s known religious observances or obligations

    • Ordering food for events and not considering the dietary restrictions of others

These definitions of microaggressions and the list of examples were sourced and remixed from Addressing Microaggressions in the Classroom (University of Washington, n.d.), Microaggressions and Micro-affirmations (Brown University, n.d.), and What are Microaggressions? (Cleveland Clinic, 2022).


Retaliation is any adverse action taken against the person(s) who reported an alleged violation and/or is participating in an investigation. Adverse actions may include:

  • Intimidation or harassment

  • Making threats

  • More subtle actions, such as isolating, ostracizing, or mocking

  • Intentionally interfering with their ability to volunteer within ARLIS/NA

  • Making conditions intolerable so the person wishes to stop participating in ARLIS/NA

This definition of Retaliation and the list of examples were sourced and remixed from Retaliation (U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration: Whistleblower Protection Program, n.d.) and Retaliation Policy (Marquette University, n.d.)

Resources for Crises, Victims, and Witnesses

ARLIS/NA suggests the following resources for victims seeking additional support, including mediation or legal action, and for bystanders who observe harassment.

Find A Helpline

Please note: this website is in English, but services may be offered for English, Spanish, or French speakers depending on the country/organization. Review the organization’s website for more information about their services.

Find A Helpline offers information for organizations in over 100 countries. This website endeavors to make information accurate and easy to use for people who need immediate support, offering filters for: abuse and domestic violence, anxiety, bullying, dementia & Alzheimer’s, depression, eating and body image, family, gambling, gender and sexual identity, grief and loss, loneliness, physical illness, pregnancy and abortion, relationships, school and work, self-harm, sexual abuse, stress, substance use, suicide, trauma and PTSD.

Other Resources in Canada

Some of the organizations below offer services to English and French speakers. Please review their websites for more information. 

Other Resources in the United States

Some of the organizations below offer services to English and Spanish speakers. Please review their websites for more information.

Helplines, Hotlines, and Text Resources
  • Anti-Violence Project, for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and HIV-affected communities and allies (212-714-1141)

Organizations Offering Support

Bystander Intervention Resources

ARLIS/NA Code Context

Guiding Principles

The Code of Conduct Revision Project Team created made changes to the previous ARLIS/NA Code of Conduct based on the following principles: improved transparency in Code of Conduct decision-making processes, confirmed alignment with current ethical guidelines for information professionals, reconsidered applications for in-person, virtual, and hybrid activities, and revised code violation reporting structures for members and nonmembers alike. Additionally, the Team centered a restorative practice approach to cultivate a professional environment of learning, reflection, and empathy in order to continue improving our community for all participants. However, the Team recognized that there are times when punitive action must be taken in response to violations that are wholly unacceptable, and worked to find a balance between these two approaches. More information about the research informing the Code is available below.

About this Code & Acknowledgments

This code was drafted in fall 2023 by an ad hoc Code of Conduct Revision Project Team consisting of a representative who worked on the original ARLIS/NA Code of Conduct, Diversity & Inclusion Committee members, an Executive Board representative, 2024 CPAC Programming Co-Chairs, and two members-at-large. We would like to thank and acknowledge the following volunteers for their work on this revised code: Stephanie Beene, Missy Brown, Stephanie Fletcher, Lauren Haberstock, Courtney Hunt, Michele Jennings, Fong Ku, Alex O’Keefe, and K. Sarah Ostrach.

This work is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 

Research: Adaptations, Readings, and Other Resources

The Team conducted research in the following areas: other codes of conduct and community expectations, information science literature and other scholarly resources, general best practices, and restorative justice and mediation best practices. This is not the exhaustive list of everything reviewed, but provides specific resources that influenced their revisions of the Code.


The following codes were adapted, remixed, or guided additions to the Code’s content. We wish to thank everyone who worked on these projects, as ours would not be as strong without their foundations. These webpages were last accessed October 14, 2023 unless otherwise noted.

Readings and Other Resources

While some works are specifically cited in notes or credited in the sections above, the Team reviewed the following resources which informed the Code but are not directly cited: