Title: ARLS Regional Policy: Patron Responsibilities and Conduct
Prepared by: Valerie Bell & Resource Team & Branch Managers – Date: 6/26/2022, 4/1/2024
Submitted to: ARLS Policy Committee – Date: 7/6/2022, 4/10/2024
Approved by: ARLS Board of Trustees – Date: 7/21/2022, Revised 4/18/2024

The Athens Regional Library System and its libraries exist to provide open and equitable access to resources and services which meet information needs and enhance the quality of life in the diverse communities served. To ensure an environment useful, safe, and enjoyable for all patrons, and to protect the library’s resources, the Athens Regional Library Board of Trustees has established the following standards defining acceptable behavior for those who visit and use the library [O.C.G.A. § 20-5-43].

Patrons are welcome to:
(a) Ask questions of staff and receive needed information in the library
(b) Borrow materials through established lending procedures
(c) Bring children and teens to the library for materials and programs
(d) Comply with SB319, the Safe Carry Protection Act of 2014, when visiting
Libraries
(e) Use the materials in all public areas of the library, under the following
conditions: The Athens Regional Library System is committed to ensuring the
safety of all of its patrons, with a special emphasis on the safety of children in our
libraries. For that reason, the materials, services and equipment in the children’s
areas are intended primarily for the use of children, their parents and/or caregivers.
Others needing to access materials or services specific to the children’s area do so
with the understanding that the library staff will determine whether or not a
particular use or activity is appropriate in the children’s and teen’s area. Thus, patrons may be
asked to use alternative areas of the library, at the discretion of the library manager
or designee.
(f) Read, study, type, and write while using library materials
(g) Use library computers
(h) Speak quietly whenever in the library and whenever on cell phones

Visitors to the libraries are expected to be engaged in activities associated with the use of public libraries while on or in any of the libraries’ properties. Visitors who choose to violate these standards for behavior may be subject to a restriction or loss of library privileges. The following actions, as well as any other behavior that disrupts the public use of the library, are prohibited:

  • Engaging in any action that would be a violation, misdemeanor, or felony under local, state, or federal criminal laws or ordinances.
  • Engaging in any action which violates established library policies, including the Internet Acceptable Use Policies and computer use agreements, which are posted on all public computers.
  • Harassing, threatening, or intimidating other patrons or library staff [O.C.G.A. § 16-11-39]. This includes, but is not limited to, physical or verbal abuse, including obscene or derogatory language or gestures; annoying persistently to create an unpleasant or hostile situation; interference with another patron’s use of the library; interference with library staff’s performance of duties [Title 7, Civil Rights Act; OSHA Directive CPL 02-01-052].
  • Engaging in disruptive or abusive behavior (which includes, but is not limited to, loitering, fighting, hitting, shoving, running, throwing objects, skating, accosting, selling, soliciting, or inappropriate displays of affection) that interferes with the normal operation of the library or that disturbs library patrons or staff [O.C.G.A. § 16-5-20].
  • Sexual acts, obscene language, inappropriate bodily exposure, or any other sexual misconduct [O.C.G.A. § 16-6-8].
  • Disobeying the reasonable direction of a library staff member or library security officer.
  • Unlawfully carrying or displaying a firearm, weapon, or potential weapon.
  • Knowingly destroying, damaging, defacing or removing any library property, including computer equipment and networks [O.C.G.A. § 20-5-52], or personal property of library patrons or staff [O.C.G.A. § 16-8-2].

Other restrictions include:

  • All library materials must be properly checked out [O.C.G.A. § 20-5-54]. Personal items are subject to inspection to ensure compliance with library policy.
  • The wearing of appropriate clothing, including shirt and shoes, is required on and in all library property.
  • Personal items should not be left unattended. Library staff is not responsible for monitoring personal items of patrons. Bicycles or other similar devices must be left in designated areas outside the library building.
  • Taking library materials that have not been checked out into restrooms.
  • Tampering with library security or safety devices.
  • Any loud, unreasonable, distracting, or disturbing noises created by persons, electronic devices, or cell phones. This includes persistent noise or crying of children.
  • Entering unauthorized areas of the building or grounds or remaining in the building after closing hours.
  • Sleeping or putting one’s head, feet, or legs on tables and other furnishings (infants and small children are excluded).
  • Overnight camping on library property.
  • Changing clothes, washing clothes, bathing, or shaving in public restrooms, spending a prolonged length of time in, or misusing public restrooms, damaging the function of restroom fixtures or damaging the fixtures themselves.
  • Blocking any building entrance or walkway.
  • Climbing on library facilities, equipment, furnishings, railings, fences, or landscaping.
  • Unauthorized use of parking lots or designated special parking spaces.
  • Using more than one chair at a time, or monopolizing or rearranging library furnishings, equipment, materials, facilities, outlets, or spaces.
  • Using a wheelchair, walker, shopping cart, child stroller, or other wheeled device to transport items or personal belongings into the library. Bedrolls, blankets, frame backpacks, suitcases, or bags measuring more than three feet in length or height are not permitted in library buildings.
  • Patrons may bring either 2 bags, backpacks, or suitcases measuring up to 24” x 16”, or one bag, backpack, or suitcase measuring up to 3 feet, containing personal belongings. Musical instrument cases are an exception.
  • No items may be left unattended or allowed to impede others.
  • Littering.
  • Leashed, controlled, and trained service dogs are permitted [Americans with Disabilities Act]. All other animals, including comfort companions, are prohibited in the library. Animals cannot be left tethered near library buildings, entrances, or walkways
  • The library building [O.C.G.A. § 31-12A-4] and campus, including parking areas and grounds, is tobacco- and electronic smoke-free [Pro Children Act of 1994, reauthorized under No Child Left Behind Act of 2001].
  • All conversations should be no louder than the general noise level of the area.
  • Staff will request patrons engaging in lengthy/noisy cell phone or other conversations move to the lobby or other designated area.
  • Food and covered drinks are allowed in designated areas only;
  • Consuming alcoholic beverages and/or illegal drugs are prohibited on library campuses.
  • Patrons will be asked to leave the library if their bodily hygiene or scent is so offensive as to constitute a nuisance to other patrons.
  • Consistent behavior and policy violations that demand constant attention of staff and/or disrupt service to library patrons will not be permitted.
  • Children under the age of 10 and adults who require supervision must be accompanied and actively supervised by a responsible caregiver at all times while in the library. Being accompanied by an older sibling or babysitter under the age of 16 does not constitute proper supervision.

All library employees and volunteers are mandated reporters of suspected child abuse. [O.C.G.A. § 19-7-5]. All library staff have training available to them through the library’s Intranet to practice trauma-informed care when upholding library policies. Every employee receives notice of this training during their onboarding process.

Persons who violate library policy, including those in the Patron Responsibilities and Conduct policy, will be informed of the policy violation by library staff or a security officer at the time of the offense. If the conduct continues, the offender will be instructed to leave the library for the day. Situations of serious, threatening, or malicious behavior will result in an immediate suspension. Offenders who refuse to leave the library premises will be subject to arrest for criminal trespass under O.C.G.A. § 16-7-21.

Repeated and or severe single behaviors that violate library policies may result in an official suspension of library privileges, based on a guideline of offenses and consequences established by the library.

Persons banned for more than two weeks will be issued a letter stating the policies violated, the length of the ban, and the appeals process. A copy of the letter will be kept on file at the branch. Library staff or the security officer will submit a report detailing the incident.

Persons returning to any ARLS library property while banned will be considered trespassing and staff has the authority to notify law enforcement (under O.C.G.A § 16-7-21).

Appeal process

Banned patrons have the right to appeal their ban within 10 days. A written request must be submitted to the library’s Branch Manager and the Executive Director requesting an appeal appointment. The local board of Trustees will hear the appeal. Further appeal can be made to the Athens Regional Library System Board of Trustees for a final determination.

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