Muenster Public Library

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Library Behavior Guidelines

Behavior Guidelines

A.    Patron Code of Conduct

Patrons of the Bettie M. Luke Muenster Public Library have the right to expect a safe, comfortable, and pleasant atmosphere in which all library patrons can use the library’s materials and services most effectively. Further, patrons have the right to assume that their visit to the library will be free from harassment, physical discomfort, danger and psychological stress.

Unfortunately, the behavior of a few library visitors may destroy this environment.  Behavior becomes unacceptable when it infringes on the rights of others or when it could result in loss or damage to customer or library property.  Depending on the severity of the offense, the library will institute discipline ranging from verbal warning, through denial of specific privileges, and finally to denial of the right to use the library for a specified time period, and, in some instances, to legal prosecution.  

General rules of behavior are designed to protect the rights of library patrons, to outline for staff members acceptable and appropriate behavior by patrons, and to preserve library materials and facilities from damage. This policy is to be used in conjunction with local, state, and federal laws and Bylaws of the Library Board.  The Bettie M. Luke Muenster Public Library observes the American Library Association’s Guidelines for the Development of Policies and Procedures Regarding User Behavior and Library Usage (see Appendices).

Staff members observing unacceptable behavior shall take appropriate action.  The Library Director will be advised of the incident and any action taken as soon as possible. A parent or guardian of a minor involved in unacceptable behavior will be contacted.  When deemed necessary, the Muenster Police Department will be called.

For the comfort and safety of patrons, volunteers, and staff, and the protection of library property, the following actions are not allowed on library property.  This list is not exhaustive or exclusive.

General Prohibitions for Library Patrons:

a.    Smoking or the use of chewing tobacco inside any library building or within 20 feet of the entrance.  

b.    Spitting

c.    Loitering at entrances, in lobbies, walkways, restrooms, the parking area, or other non-study areas.  For the purposes of this policy, loitering is defined as staying in such an area for more than fifteen (15) minutes

d.    Remaining in the library without being engaged in library activities

e.    Use of library facilities for prolonged or chronic sleeping

f.    Carrying into the library sleeping bags, bedrolls, bed blankets, large plastic bags, large boxes, sports equipment, shopping carts or camping backpacks

g.    Soliciting, panhandling, or distributing handbills

h.    Approaching library users for the purpose of obtaining signatures for petitions or conducting surveys or similar investigations.  Obtaining signatures cannot take place inside the library and the use of tables is not allowed for these activities.

i.    Leaving personal property unattended.  The library is not responsible for lost, damaged or stolen property

j.    Littering, or in any way defacing or vandalizing library property.  

k.    Consumption of food or beverages

l.    Bathing, shaving, washing clothes, or otherwise misusing restrooms

m.    Appropriate apparel, including footwear and shirts, must be worn at all times

n.    Using opposite gender restrooms (except young children accompanied by parents)

o.    Exhibiting poor personal hygiene-Patrons whose body odor is offensive will be asked to leave.

p.    Engaging in voyeurism/peeping

q.    Entering non-public areas of the library unless conducting official library business or as part of a library tour

r.    Possessing or consuming illegal drugs or alcohol

s.    Excessive display of affection

t.    Gambling

u.    Bringing animals inside the library, except for special service animals for the blind, hearing impaired and disabled or for program activities. Leaving animals outside unattended

v.    Sitting or standing on display or work surfaces such as tables, end tables, counters, desks and so on.

w.    Occupation of more than one seat or study space, and  overcrowding at study tables or carrels

x.    Relocating furniture or equipment

y.    Placing feet on chairs, tables, or other furniture or equipment where it is inappropriate to do so

z.    Carrying a weapon into the library unless the individual is a licensed peace officer of the state of Texas or a federal law enforcement agent authorized to carry a firearm as part of the officer’s duty, or is a person licensed to carry a concealed weapon.

aa.    Vandalizing, intentional damage or destruction, or defacing library materials

bb.    Removing or attempting to remove library materials, equipment, or property without proper checkout or authorization

cc.    Engaging in any activity in violation of Federal, State, local or other applicable law, or library policy

Special prohibitions:

a.    Cell phone /pager use: Cell phones/pagers may be used only if other patrons are not disturbed by the noise.

b.    Bicycles, tricycles, wagons, and similar equipment are not to be brought into any enclosed area of the library. A bicycle rack is provided adjacent to the parking lot.  Skateboards, rollerblades, folding scooters, and similar equipment may be brought inside the building but must be checked at the Circulation Desk. At the discretion of the library staff, patrons may be required to check other objects, equipment, etc. which may pose a potential hazard to the safety of other patrons or staff members or to library collections, equipment or facilities.

c.    Skateboarding, rollerblading, riding scooters or bicycles, etc., on library property is not permitted.

d.    Unauthorized gatherings by social clubs, organizations or gangs are not permitted.  Members of any group who gather within the library or use the facility in any manner which may discourage or exclude use by any member of the public may be asked to disperse, or leave the building.

e.    Display of gang signs, symbols, or paraphernalia is forbidden

Persons who violate this policy may be excluded from the library.  Refusal to leave the building when asked to do so by a member of the library’s staff shall result in the calling of the Muenster Police Department for their actions.

Disruptive behaviors include, but are not limited to:

a.    Physically, verbally, or with gestures threatening abuse or assault on another person on library property;  

b.    Harassing, verbally abusing, using profanity or other abusive language whether oral or written toward patrons or staff; intimidation; staring at another person with the effect of annoying a person of reasonable sensibilities; or following with the intent to disturb; lurking, sexual harassment or harassment on account of race, religion, ethnic or national background, gender or sexual orientation;

c.    Interfering with the staff’s performance of its duties, such as engaging in inappropriate conversation or behavior, sexual advances, or physical and/or verbal harassment;

d.    Exhibitionism/flashing/indecent exposure;

e.    Fighting or challenging to fight, pushing, shoving or throwing things;

f.    Running or jumping in the library;

g.    Noisy behavior, including whistling and loud talking or shouting;

h.    Any act which is in violation of the laws of the State of Texas or Cooke County or a City of Muenster ordinance;

i.    Disciplining children in a manner which disturbs others;

j.    Abandonment of individuals, both adults and children, who are unable to take care of themselves. A responsible adult must attend children under the age of ten (10). The responsible adult must be close enough to both see and hear the child and monitor all behavior and activities of the child in the library.

k.    Any person committing a disruptive behavior offense will be evicted from the premises and may be subject to prosecution where applicable.

l.    See also: Unattended Children Policy below.

B.    Children in the Library

The library welcomes children of all ages to use its materials and services in a positive manner, and encourages children and families to use the library together.  The library, however, is a public building with staff trained to provide library services, who are not licensed to provide for childcare needs that serve in lieu of parental responsibility. Although staff will always respond with care and concern, responsibility for the care, safety, and behavior of children lies with his parents/guardian, both within the library building and on library grounds. In order to promote a safe environment for children, The Friends of the Muenster Public Library Board Members has established the following policy:

Parents/guardians are responsible for teaching their children the proper behavior in the library and respect for other patrons and books.   All children are expected to follow the library’s general patron behavior policy as not to be disruptive to others.

All children should know the telephone number of their parent/guardian.  Library staff will attempt to notify the parent or guardian when:

•    Closing due to inclement weather, power outage, etc.  

•    The child’s behavior disturbs other users of the library

•    There is cause to believe that the child’s health or safety is in danger

•    The library staff is unable to provide the necessary degree of supervision that is desirable for young children

A child under age seven should never be left alone in the library even for a short period of time and must be directly supervised by an adult. Children up to age seven must have a parent/guardian in the immediate vicinity of, be in visual contact with the child, and supervise the child, ensuring that the child’s behavior is not disturbing to other patrons.  An exception would be children attending a library program without the parent/guardian in the room.  However, the parent must remain in the library building and immediately join the child at the end of the program.

Children from eight to twelve should be accompanied by a person over fourteen years of age who acknowledges this responsibility for the child. Children thirteen years of age or older may use the library unattended provided proper behavior is maintained. Teenagers are treated as adult users.  However, they are still the legal responsibility of their parents and should have emergency contact available.

Child protective services or law enforcement may be contacted if:

•    An unattended child is being disruptive;

•    A child is habitually left unattended for long periods of time

•    A child is deemed to be at risk of coming to harm (as in the case of a child being left alone when the library closes)

Procedure:

Child under age seven:  A child who is left unattended and is frightened or crying should be taken to the children’s area and comforted while another staff member tries to find the child’s caregiver. When the responsible caregiver is located, library policy should be explained.  If the child continues to be left unattended, the Director will contact the police.

Child ages eight and above:  If the child is left unattended and the responsible caregiver cannot be located within fifteen (15) minutes, the caregiver will be notified by phone that it is unacceptable to leave a child unattended at the library, and the policy will be explained. If the child continues to be left unattended, the Director will notify police. Staff will not take the child outside the building or transport the child under any circumstances.

Parents of children who are left for long periods of time will be contacted by the Director.  If the same children are repeatedly left in the library without parental supervision, a registered letter will be sent to the parent warning that the County Human Services Department will be contacted.

After Hours:  If the parents have not arrived to pick up their child at closing and the child has no means of transportation, the staff will assist the child in calling a parent or guardian. After the library closes, two (2) staff members must remain with the child until the situation is resolved.

If the parents have not arrived to pick up their children within fifteen (15) minutes after closing time, the police/Child Protective Services will be contacted.  A follow-up letter will be sent to the parents explaining closing hours and library responsibility for the child’s safety. The Director will keep a list of parents who have been contacted. Billing for staff time and overhead shall be made to the parents upon the second incidence from a household.

Children and Library Programs:

No child under the age of four may be left in any program or special event alone.  The responsible adult should remain in the building for any child under eight, where they are available for the child if s/he must leave a program.  The responsible adult is expected to join the child immediately at the end of the program.

Disruptive children will be asked to leave the program after one warning.  Parents with children who are crying or engaging in other disruptive behavior such as running, scuffling, and yelling, will be asked to take their children away from the program area until the behavior can be corrected.

Persons responsible for children who have special needs related to physical or mental ability, disruptive behavior, emotional problems, lack of adequate attention span, incomplete social skills, and so on, must remain with their children at all times.

Day care groups who cannot control their children will be contacted by the library Director.  If this problem is not corrected, the day care group will be asked not to return until the problem is corrected.