The Independence County Library is designed to be a safe and comfortable place for all members of the public to use. Patrons are expected to respect the rights of other patrons and staff members. The Independence County Library’s Behavior Policy is intended to protect the rights and safety of library patrons, to protect the rights and safety of staff members, and to preserve and protect the library’s materials, facilities, and property.
Definition and Scope
Patrons who exhibit disruptive behavior in the library will be asked to follow the rules listed in the behavior policy. Patrons who continue to cause disruptive behavior will be asked to leave the library premises.
Disruptive Behavior is generally defined as “any patron behavior that interferes with the normal operation of the library or which interferes with another patron’s ability to use the library.”
The Library Director and other staff members to whom the Director delegates the authority (and whom are on duty at the time) shall have the responsibility for enforcing the Behavior Policy and determining when behavior in the library is inappropriate.
The following types of disruptive behavior will not be tolerated in the library:
- Any behavior that endangers the safety or health of others.
- Violation of any local, state, or federal law.
- Vandalism or deliberate destruction of library materials.
- Theft of library materials or the personal property of other patrons and staff.
- Taking library materials into the restrooms if the materials have not been checked out.
- Any abusive or intimidating language or gestures to patrons or staff members.
- Behavior that is willfully annoying, harassing, or threatening to another person. (Harassment is defined as any action taken or situation created intentionally to produce psychological or physical discomfort, embarrassment, or ridicule. Harassment is characterized by requests for sexual contact, unwelcome physical advances, or conduct (verbal or physical) of a nature that is intimidating, demeaning, hostile, offensive, or potentially dangerous to self or others.)
- Soliciting of any kind and/or asking for signatures on petitions.
- Monopolizing library resources or staff time.
- Any use of library telephone unless authorized by library staff member.
- Loud talking, laughing, or using audio equipment or cell phones that in the sole opinion of a library staff member disturbs other patrons.
- Use of skateboards, roller blades, skate shoes, or scooters inside the library or on library property.
- Inappropriate dress, such as bathing suits and wet clothing, or not wearing a shirt or shoes in the library.
- Loitering on the premises after closing.
- Use of alcohol, cigarettes, or illegal substances in the library.
- Eating or drinking beverages in the computer or gaming areas.
- Poor hygiene that constitutes a nuisance.
- Other kinds of behavior deemed inappropriate in the opinion of the Director or designated staff members.
The library staff reserves the right to ask a patron to leave the library for any of the reasons listed above.
Enforcement of these regulations may take the form of any of the following, depending on the severity of the misconduct, which will be determined by the staff on duty at the time. These disciplinary procedures are guidelines. The library may implement any procedure listed, including an immediate ban from the library premises at any time.
In the case of a minor disruption, the library patron will receive a verbal warning. If the behavior continues, the patron will be asked to leave the library for a stated period of suspension or be referred to the director.
In the case of any misconduct that, in the judgment of a staff member, is extreme, the offender may be ordered to leave the library immediately for a stated period of suspension, or the police may be called. Patron will be required to meet with the library director before being allowed to return to the library.
Staff guidelines for dealing with difficult patrons:
Remain friendly and calm in addressing the patron situation. Identify yourself as a library employee.
- Do not touch the patron.
- Discuss the issue with the patron away from other patrons in the library if possible.
- The staff member may give a copy of the library’s written policy to the patron if requested.
- If the patron refuses to leave the library after being asked to do so, or becomes abusive or aggressive, the staff member may call the local law enforcement and ask that law enforcement escort the offending patron from the library premises.
- Any incident of policy violation will be documented by the director or staff member with the date in which the incident occurred and a brief description of the incident.
In cases where a policy violation occurs involving a child under the age of 17, the staff will give the child two warnings. If the behavior continues, the library director will call and inform the parents that their child was asked to leave the library for a stated period of suspension and explain the circumstances. Parents of minor children may be held responsible for any damages caused to library materials or computers by their child.
If the child continues to cause disruptive behavior in the library, the child and parents or guardian must meet with the director to review policy rules before the child can return to the library.
Permanent Ban from the Library
Patrons who engage in repeated disruptive behaviors that interfere with others’ use of the library or the general operation of the library or engage in behaviors that violate the law may be permanently banned from the Independence County Library premises by the Director. A written notice of permanent ban may be given to the patron. A written appeal of the Library Director’s decision may be made to the Library Board within 30 days.
Exceptions to the above may be authorized by the Library Director.
Neither the Director nor any other member of the library staff is a professional medical or legal expert. All actions taken shall be subject to the best opinion of the Director and library staff.
The Independence County Library staff will be consistent with enforcing this Behavior Policy to ensure the safety of patrons and staff and create an environment that is enjoyable to our patrons. This policy also ensures that the quality of library materials is maintained.
Approved by the Independence County Library Board May 23, 2019