Rules of Conduct
Policy approved by The Seattle Public Library board of trustees.
The Seattle Public Library is supported by the taxes of the people of Seattle who expect each of our facilities to be clean, comfortable, and safe places for selecting materials, reading, researching, studying, writing, and attending 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. In addition, the Library has a strong commitment to intellectual freedom and to freedom of access to information.
The Seattle 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. The rules will be enforced in a fair and reasonable manner with exclusion periods that vary based on the category of violation, with increasingly longer exclusion periods for Category A to Category E violations.
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:
Category A (Library Specific Violation)
- Disruptive behavior, such as creating loud noises, loud talking, screaming, or banging on computer keyboards.
- Entering into the Library barefoot or without a shirt or removing one's footwear or shirt while in the Library, or being otherwise attired so as to be disruptive to the Library environment.
- Having offensive body odor or personal hygiene so as to unreasonably interfere with other patrons' ability to use the Library and its facilities.
- Consuming food or beverages in public areas of the Library not authorized by the Library (see Administrative Procedure, Food and Beverage in the Library).
- Camping on Library grounds.
- Leaving packages, backpacks, luggage, or any other personal items unattended. These unattended items are subject to immediate confiscation.
- 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 that are larger than allowed by the restriction on allowable articles. 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 disabilities, into the Library, except as authorized by the City Librarian.
- 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.
- Engaging in any activity in violation of a Library policy.
- 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.
- Smoking, chewing, and other tobacco use on Library property.
- Bringing in items excluding personal items (purse, laptop, briefcase) that occupy floor space in excess of 14"W x 17"H x 20"L. Items are measured in totality and must be placed and fit easily into a measuring box of the above dimensions.
- Distributing literature, gathering signatures, soliciting contributions or conducting surveys inside a library facility or on Library grounds, including plazas outside Library entrances, without Library authorization. No Library authorization is required to distribute literature, gather signatures, solicit contributions, or conduct surveys on the public sidewalks adjacent to Library property.
- Placing any tables or other structures on Library property, including Library grounds.
- Failing to comply with a reasonable staff request to cease behavior that interferes with the effective functioning of the Library.
Category B (Serious Library Specific Violations)
- Using restrooms for bathing or shampooing, doing laundry, or changing clothes.
- Verbally or physically harassing other patrons, volunteers, or staff, including stalking, staring, or lurking.
- Entering a library facility or Library grounds during a period of exclusion.
Category C (Drug or Alcohol Possession or Use)
- Being under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances.
- Possession or use of alcohol.
Category D (Violation Toward Person(s) or Property)
- Damaging or stealing personal or 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 (valued under $250).
- Verbally intimidating staff, volunteers, or other patrons.
- Engaging in any other behavior that would constitute a misdemeanor under applicable law.
Category E (Serious Violation Toward Person(s) or Property)
- Carrying, exhibiting, displaying, or drawing any firearm in a manner that demonstrates an 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.
- Selling, using, or possessing controlled substances or selling alcohol.
- Damaging or stealing personal or 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 (valued at $250 or above).
- Refusing to leave Library property after being issued a Notice of Exclusion.
- Offensive touching and obscene acts such as sex acts, and indecent exposure.
- Trespassing in nonpublic areas, being in the Library without permission of an authorized Library employee before or after Library operating hours, remaining on Library property once excluded.
- 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 felony under applicable law.
Authorized Library staff and/or Seattle police 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 Exclusion from Library property for a period of one day to two years, as provided in policies and procedures issued by the City Librarian.
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 Exclusion 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 (206) 386-4690 or emailing email@example.com.
Administrative Review of Notices of Exclusion
An individual who has received a Notice of Exclusion may timely request an administrative review of an exclusion order that is for a period greater than seven days. Further instructions are outlined in the Administrative Procedure, Excluding Individuals from The Seattle Public Library.
Implementation and Delegation
The Library Board delegates to the City Librarian the authority to adopt policies, procedures and guidelines to implement these Rules of Conduct. Such policies, procedures, and guidelines may include, but are not limited to:
- Specifying which Seattle Public Library personnel are authorized to issue Notices of Exclusion.
- Specifying whether non-Library personnel, including Seattle Police Department personnel, may issue Notices of Exclusion and, if so, for which particular violations.
- Providing guidance regarding the range of possible periods of exclusion for particular violations, including factors such as the nature and seriousness of the violation and whether it is a first or repeat offense.
- Providing procedures for the administrative review of Notices of Exclusion.
The Rules of Conduct applies to all Library patrons. The enforcement aspects of this policy apply to all authorized Library staff members and law enforcement officers.
Related Laws, Policies and Procedures
- Board Policy, Rules of Conduct Enforcement and Administrative Review of Certain Exclusion Orders.
- Administrative Procedure, Excluding Individuals from The Seattle Public Library.
- Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 27.12.270, Rules and regulations - Free use of libraries.
- Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 27.12.290, Public Libraries - Violators may be excluded.
Reviewed and wording clarified on Jan. 16, 2014 and June 24, 2015. Supersedes Rules of Conduct adopted May 27, 1997 and revised Jan. 22, 2002, March 16, 2004, April 27, 2006, and July 15, 2009.
Adopted: Oct. 23, 2013
Wording Clarification: Jan. 16, 2014 and June 24, 2015
Supersedes Policy: Rules of Conduct adopted May 27, 1997 and revised Jan. 22, 2002, March 16, 2004, April 27, 2006, and July 15, 2009