Appropriate Library Use Policy

Policies & Procedures

Revised January 12, 2018, approved March 23, 2004. Supersedes: Appropriate Patron Behavior Policy adopted January 2001.

The Boston Public Library is proudly open to all; a judgment-free space for everyone, shared by the community and used by many different people for many different reasons. The Library expects each of our facilities to be clean, comfortable, and safe places for community use. 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 Library and any other designated children’s space are reserved for use by children, their parents or caregivers, and adults interested in children’s literature while they are retrieving material from the collection. Teen Central and any other designated teen spaces are reserved for teens and those who accompany them, and adults interested in Teen literature while they are retrieving material from the collection.

The Boston Public Library Board of Trustees has the authority under state law to establish reasonable rules regarding the Library and to exclude any person who willfully and persistently violates those rules. 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 indefinitely, 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. Any expulsion may be appealed in writing to the President’s Office.

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 illegal drugs and selling, using, or possessing illegal drugs or selling alcohol, cigarettes or marijuana.

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.

Category A (Library Specific Violation)

  • Engaging in any activity in violation of a Library policy.
  • Disruptive behavior, such as creating loud noises, loud talking, screaming, or banging on computer keyboards.
  • 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 not authorized by the Library (see Administrative Procedure, Food and Beverage in the Library).
  • 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.
  • Leaving packages, backpacks, luggage, or any other personal items unattended. Any unattended items are subject to immediate confiscation and disposal.
  • Moving Library furniture from where it is placed by Library staff.
  • Using wheeled devices inside the Library or on Library grounds, except in designated areas, including use of skateboards, roller skates, bicycles, motorized or non-motorized scooters, and shopping carts. These restrictions do not apply to ADA assistive devices or baby strollers.
  • Lying down or appearing to be sleeping in the Library; having feet on furniture; or blocking aisles, exits or entrances.
  • Neglecting to provide proper supervision of children (see Library Board Policy, Unattended Children).
  • Bringing pets or animals, other than service animals necessary for assisting individuals with disabilities, into the Library, except as authorized by the Director of Library Services or their delegate.
  • Inappropriate use of Library property in Library facilities or on Library grounds, including computer hardware and software, printers (see Library Board Policy, Public Use of the Internet), copiers, phones, and other equipment.
  • Gambling.
  • Running, pushing, shoving, or throwing things on Library property.
  • Using audible devices without headphones or with headphones set at a volume that disturbs others. Using cellphones, pagers, and other communication devices in a manner that disturbs others. Audible cellphone and pager ringers must be turned off.
  • Littering.
  • No consumption of tobacco products, marijuana or e-cigarettes is allowed in Library buildings or within 25 feet of any entrance or open window.
  • Distributing literature, gathering signatures, soliciting contributions or conducting surveys inside a Library facility or on Library grounds, without Library authorization.
  • Conducting private tours or photo shoots on Library property without Library authorization.
  • Placing any tables or other structures on Library property, including Library grounds.
  • 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 restrooms for bathing or shampooing, or doing laundry.
  • Failing to comply with a reasonable staff request to cease behavior that interferes with the effective functioning of the Library and the use of the lLibrary by others, including being asked to leave the Library.

Category B (Drug or Alcohol Possession or Use)

  • Being visibly intoxicated.
  • Possession, selling or use of alcohol in non-designated areas.
  • Possession, selling or use of illegal drugs.
  • Selling marijuana, or tobacco products.

Category C (Serious Violation Toward Person(s) or Property)

  • Carrying, exhibiting, displaying, or drawing any firearm in a manner that demonstrates intent to intimidate another or that warrants alarm for the safety of other people.
  • Possession of any other dangerous weapon.
  • Assault, fighting, or challenging to fight.
  • Verbally or physically harassing other patrons, volunteers, or staff, including, but not limited to, stalking, staring or lurking, offensive touching, and obscene acts such as sex acts and indecent exposure.
  • Damaging or stealing personal or Library property in Library facilities or on Library grounds, including computer hardware and software, printers, copiers, phones, and other equipment.
  • Threatening other patrons, volunteers, or staff - verbally, physically or in writing, including all forms of electronic media.
  • Engaging in any other behavior that would constitute a misdemeanor felony under applicable law.

Enforcement

Authorized Library staff, contractors, and/or law enforcement officers may intervene to stop prohibited activities and behaviors. Failure to comply with these rules may result in: 1) withdrawal of a person's permission to remain on Library property and/or 2) issuance of a Notice of Trespass from Library property for a period of one day to indefinitely, as provided in policies and procedures issued by the Trustees of the Boston Public Library.

A criminal law violation may also result in arrest and prosecution. Violations of law and/or these rules may also result in the restriction and/or termination of Library privileges, including the use of Library computers and other equipment. Authorized personnel may base a Notice of Trespass on personal observation or upon the sort of civilian reports that would ordinarily be relied upon by police officers in the determination of probable cause.

Individuals with disabilities may request reasonable accommodation by calling or emailing The President’s Office at 617-859-2034 or loshea@bpl.org or the Director of Library Services at 617-859-2389 or mcolford@bpl.org.

Administrative Review and Appeal of Notices of Trespass

An individual who has received a Notice of Trespass may, within 30 days, request an administrative review of a trespass order. An administrative review must be made in writing and through the President’s Office.

Applicability

The Rules of Conduct apply to all Library patrons. The enforcement aspects of this policy apply to all authorized Library staff, contractors, and/or law enforcement officers.