Patron Code of Conduct

Patron Code of Conduct

This Palo Alto City Library code of conduct is meant to ensure a clean, respectful, comfortable and safe library environment for all library patrons and staff.

In General

Individuals using library facilities and attending library programs are expected to comply with all library policies and directions from staff. Conduct is unacceptable if it impedes other patrons from a timely enjoyment of library resources or threatens injury to library patrons, or library resources.

Prohibited Activities

Dangerous, destructive, illegal, or threatening conduct, including, but not limited to the following, is prohibited:

  • Engaging in any activity prohibited by local, state, or federal law.
  • Bringing firearms, weapons, or other weapons into Libraries in violation of California penal code 171b, which prohibits bringing weapons including firearms, knives with blade length in excess of four inches, stun guns/tasers, tear gas, and other metallic projectile instruments into any state or local public buildings, including public libraries. (Exemptions from this prohibition are recognized for Law Enforcement and individuals with a valid license to carry a firearm under state law).
  • Bringing fireworks or other dangerous substances into Libraries
  • Activities or behavior that may result in injury or harm to any library patron or staff member.
  • Threatening or harassing other patrons or staff including but not limited to assault, battery, verbal threats, stalking, offensive staring, or offensive touching.
  • Engaging in or soliciting any sexual activities, including, but not limited to, unwanted or inappropriate touching, unwanted or inappropriate advances, harassment, or indecent exposure.
  • Defacing, damaging, or soiling library materials including, but not limited to, underlining, highlighting, writing, removing pages or security devices.
  • Misusing, damaging, soiling or defacing library furniture, buildings, or equipment, including computer systems.

Conduct that disrupts the normal functioning of the library, including, but not limited to the following, is prohibited:

  • Engaging in activity that is disruptive to other patrons or staff. This includes using electronic devices or other personal equipment that are noisy or distracting, running in the building, or speaking loudly.
  • Petitioning, soliciting or selling merchandise or services without written permission from the Library Director.
  • Fraudulent use of another’s library card and/or number for any purpose.
  • Using the library while barefoot, shirtless or without outer clothing and footwear.
  • Exuding offensive, pervasive, and persistent odors, including odors caused by perfume or other scented products, so as to constitute a nuisance that unreasonably interferes with others’ enjoyment of the library.

Misuse of library buildings, facilities, or equipment, including, but not limited to the following, is prohibited:

  • Sleeping in the Library or on Library grounds.
  • Using alcohol, tobacco or related nicotine products, or controlled substances.
  • Bring bikes & motorized carts into library buildings.
    • Other than strollers & vehicles used by persons with disabilities, wheeled vehicles, including skateboards, are not permitted in the library unless carried as personal property.
  • Leaving personal belongings unattended.
  • Personally monopolizing Library space, seating, tables, or equipment to the exclusion of other patrons or staff.
  • Using children’s areas in a manner inconsistent with the Children’s Area Policy. Leaving children unsupervised in violation of the Children in the Library Policy.
  • Bringing animals into libraries, except as specified in the Animals in the Library Policy.

Enforcement of Library Code of Conduct or other Library Policies

In order to be fair and equitable in the application of library policies, upon determining that a patron has failed to comply with this code of conduct or another library policy library staff shall follow the following procedures.

In the event of a first-time, minor infraction, staff may:

  1. Ask the patron to stop the prohibited behavior;
  2. Warn the patron that he/she may be required to leave the library for the day if prohibited behavior does not stop;
  3. Suspend the patron’s library privileges for the remainder of the day.
    • Any patron displaying dangerous, destructive, illegal, or threatening conduct may have his or her library privileges suspended immediately and without a warning.
    • If the customer refuses to leave, the Police Department may be called for assistance.
    • If the safety of staff or customers is endangered or a crime is in progress, staff will immediately call the police.
    • An incident report will be completed and distributed to all branches.

In the event of a severe infraction or repeated behavior in violation of library policies, staff may recommend that a patron be suspended for more than one day. Depending on the severity of the conduct, extended suspensions may range from one-week to a permanent ban.

In the event of an extended suspension:

  • An incident report will be prepared and include staff’s recommendation that the patron’s library privileges be suspended at one or more branches.
  • The Library Director or his or her designee shall determine whether an extended suspension is warranted and issue a letter to the patron informing him or her of the grounds for the suspension.
  • In the case of a minor (under the age of 18), the library will attempt to notify the parent or guardian and provide the parent or guardian with a copy of the suspension letter.
  • A patron may appeal an extended suspension in writing within seven (7) days of receipt of the suspension letter. Appeals will be reviewed by the Hearing Officer within thirty (30) days thereafter, during which time the suspension will remain in effect. The Hearing Officer’s decision is final.
  • Any patron who violates the suspension by entering a library facility while the suspension is in effect will be asked to immediately leave the building and will be automatically suspended for one (1) additional month from the date on which their suspension was scheduled to end.

Approved by: Monique le Conge Ziesenhenne, Library Director (Date: August, 2014)
Approved as to form: Albert S. Yang, Deputy City Attorney

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