Boston Public Library
Appropriate Library Use Policy

Policies & Procedures


The Boston Public Library is supported by the taxes of the people of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts who expect each of our facilities to be clean, comfortable, and safe places for selecting materials, reading, researching, studying, writing, and attending Library or community sponsored programs and meetings. To this end, the Library is responsible for establishing rules of conduct to protect the rights and safety of Library patrons, volunteers, and staff, and for preserving and protecting the Library’s materials, equipment, facilities, and grounds.

The Children’s Department is reserved for use by children, their parents or guardians, and adults interested in children’s literature. The Young Adults’* Room is reserved for young adults* and those who accompany them.

Enforcement of these rules will be conducted in a fair and reasonable manner. Library staff and/or security staff will intervene to stop prohibited activities and behaviors. Failure to comply with the Library’s established rules, regulations, and policies could result in removal from the premises and expulsion from the Library for a period of one day to one year, or in arrest or prosecution. Violations could also result in the restriction and/or termination of Library privileges, including the use of Library computers and other equipment. Expulsion for more than one week may be appealed in writing to the Director of Public Services.

For the comfort and safety of patrons, volunteers, and staff, and the protection of Library property, the following actions are examples of conduct not allowed on Library property.

  • Engaging in any activity in violation of Federal, State, local or other applicable law, or Library policy.
  • Carrying firearms and dangerous weapons of any type (except by law enforcement officers).
  • Being under the influence of alcohol/illegal drugs and selling, using, or possessing alcohol/illegal drugs.
  • Verbally or physically threatening or harassing other patrons, volunteers, or staff, including stalking, staring, lurking, offensive touching, and obscene acts such as sex acts and indecent exposure.
  • Soliciting or conducting surveys not authorized by the Library.
  • Stealing, damaging, altering, or inappropriate use of Library property in Library facilities or on Library grounds, including computer hardware and software, printers, copiers, phones, and other equipment.
  • Trespassing in nonpublic areas, being in the Library without permission of an authorized Library employee before or after Library operating hours, or camping on Library grounds.
  • Fighting or challenging to fight, running, pushing, shoving, or throwing things.
  • Creating disruptive noises such as loud talking, screaming, or banging on computer keyboards.
  • Gambling and group activities which are disruptive to the Library environment.
  • Using audible devices without headphones or with headphones set at a volume that disturbs others. Using cell phones, pagers, and other communication devices in a manner that disturbs others. Cell phone and pager audible ringers must be turned off.
  • Using restrooms for bathing or shampooing, doing laundry, or changing clothes.
  • Littering.
  • Smoking, chewing, and other tobacco use in Library facilities.
  • Entering the Library barefooted, without a shirt, with offensive body odor or personal hygiene, or being otherwise attired so as to be disruptive to the Library environment.
  • Consuming food or beverages in public areas of the Library, including restrooms (except for water in closed containers as permitted by authorized library employees, drinking fountain use, baby bottles, nursing and locations where use is authorized: McKim Courtyard, Map Room Café, Novel, and at authorized events, and in specific areas of branch libraries as designated by the branch librarian).
  • Bringing in garbage, articles with a foul odor, or articles which, alone or in their aggregate, impede the use of the library by other users.
  • Using wheeled devices in Library property or on Library grounds, except in designated areas, including skateboarding, roller-skating, bicycling, scooters, and shopping carts (exceptions i.e. wheelchairs, walkers, and strollers).
  • Lying down or sleeping in the restrooms or on any floor, couch, table, or seat in the Library, and by blocking aisles, exits, or entrances by sitting or lying down in them.
  • Neglecting to provide proper supervision of children.
  • Bringing pets or animals, other than service animals necessary for disabilities, into the Library, except as authorized by the Director of Public Services.

All bags and other articles are subject to inspection by security and other authorized personnel. The Library reserves the right to limit the size and number of items brought into the Library.

Date Approved: March 23, 2004 Supercedes: Appropriate Patron Behavior Policy adopted January 2001.

*The word "teen" may be used interchangeably with the phrase "young adult" in some locations