What are the Houston Public Neighborhood Library Meeting Room Terms & Conditions?
The meeting rooms in the Houston Public Library (HPL) Neighborhood Libraries are available at no charge for use by community groups for informational, educational, or cultural meetings and programs when not needed for Library purposes. Use of the meeting room does not constitute Library or City endorsement of the viewpoints, beliefs, ideas, or policies expressed by organizations or individuals using the space.
Meetings must be free and open to the general public. Library staff retains the right to attend any meetings or events scheduled at the library to ensure compliance of the room usage.
*There is no food allowed in meeting or conference rooms.
The applicant or authorized representative of the organization shall be a Houston Public Library card holder. Eligible Organizations (in priority order):
- Library Programs.
- Groups or organizations affiliated with the Library or the City of Houston.
- Civic, educational, and nonprofit groups presenting meetings of public interest.
- Non-partisan events such as a public forum open to all candidates or town hall meetings held by current elected officials are permitted.
- Other groups not included above, and not specifically excluded in the Library Meeting Room Policy.
- Personal use such as birthday parties, baby showers, etc.
- Meetings requiring payment for admission, a registration fee, materials fee, or required donations. This includes fees or donations requested off-site.
- Programs involving the sale, advertising, marketing, promotion of commercial products or services or programs sponsored by a business
- firm, regardless of purpose.
- Political campaigning or political fund-raising activities.
- Reserving a Library meeting room for a media announcement event (such as a news conference) requires the approval of Library Administration and needs to meet all the community meeting standards i.e., be held by an eligible organization, not be to promote a product, be open to all, not be used for political campaigning or political fund-raising activities, etc. Customers will be required to obtain approval of all publicity in advance of publication.
- Reserving a library meeting room or space to do a photo shoot or film video of any kind may qualify as “commercial use” and requires the approval of Library Administration. “Commercial use” includes but is not limited to photos and video taken by a paid photographer or videographer, used to promote an event or product that will be used in a product/film/publication that will be sold or is supported through sales (including advertising). These requests may be subject to additional fees and contracts, depending on the scope of the request.
- HPL does not provide any public space for conducting private business by individuals in the Library. Private business includes tutoring by private paid tutors, presentations to prospective clients for paid services and/or solicitation of goods or services. Distributing business cards or other promotional materials or soliciting contact information from attendees with the intent of selling services at a later time is also prohibited.
- Books, materials, and other library-related items may be sold in conjunction with Library sponsored events with approval from the Director or designee. A contribution to a Library affiliated group from revenues may be requested.
- Applications are considered on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Each meeting requires a separate reservation.
- Meeting rooms may be reserved up to 90 days in advance. Meeting rooms may be reserved on the same day if space is available.
- The Library reserves the right to limit the number of reservations by an individual or organization to maintain meeting room availability to other groups. No more than six (6) applications can be accepted from the same group within a 90-day period. The 90-day period begins at the date of the first reservation.
- Meeting rooms may only be used when library locations are open to the public except at the discretion of the Library Director or designee.
- All meeting rooms must be vacated at least 15 minutes before the regular closing time of the library.
The maximum number of people allowed in a meeting room is established by the fire codes. Room capacity is posted on the library’s website. Room capacity may be adjusted based on library operational needs.
- The library reserves the right to change or cancel reservations if:
- A building or weather-related emergency occurs,
- A special library program/need intervenes.
- In either case the group may be assigned to another location, or if no other accommodation is available, the meeting room commitment will be cancelled.
- Non-Library groups have the right to cancel a scheduled meeting but must notify the library as soon as they are aware of the need to cancel (preferably at least 72 hours in advance).
- Each meeting room is equipped with tables and chairs
- Groups are responsible for the setup and take down of all tables and chairs used.
- Loading/unloading and carrying of the group’s materials is the sole responsibility of each group.
- Library cannot store equipment or supplies.
- All Library locations have Wi-Fi. Ethernet connections are not available in meeting rooms. Library Equipment: Unfortunately, the Houston Public Library does not have staff to support audio-visual equipment. Some Neighborhood Library locations have limited audio-visual equipment built into meeting rooms. No other equipment is available.
- Confirm with the location to ensure the availability of equipment.
- Non-Library Equipment:
- If a group wishes to provide and operate its own equipment it may do so.
- The library is not responsible for equipment, supplies, materials or other
- items owned by a group and used in the library.
- Non-library groups may not serve food.
- Drinks in covered containers are allowed in the meeting rooms.
- Alcoholic beverages may only be served in a Library facility with the written approval of the Library Director or designee.
- Some Neighborhood Library locations have study rooms that may be reserved in advance online, but are also available (if not previously booked) by walking up on a first come, first served basis. Rooms can be used for two hours at a time. Time can be extended if no one is waiting.
- Locations without study rooms may use conference rooms and meeting rooms as study rooms on a drop-in basis if the room is available. Meeting room forms should be submitted online as usual, and meeting room use is still subject to the rules set out in this policy.
Fire Regulations – per Uniform Fire Code: 2501:11-17
- All exits, aisles, doors, corridors, stairs, and vestibules leading to stairways or exits are kept clear of all obstructions and that doors and exit signs are not concealed or blocked in any way.
- Attendance at meetings may not exceed the maximum number of people certified by the Fire Department as the occupancy limit for the room.
- Candles and other open-flame devices are prohibited. Open-flames include birthday candles, lighters, matches, sterno cans for chafing dishes, torches, or any other means of open-flame.
Scheduling a room: Each location maintains a program/event calendar for future library and non-library meetings. Scheduled events are coordinated so that only one event is booked in the same room at the same time.
- Rooms should be reserved completing the online meeting reservation form on the library’s website.
- The Neighborhood Library Manager or Designee will review all applications to consider based on meeting room criteria, requirements, and a group’s eligibility to use the room.
- Once it is determined that the room is available for the group and the criteria and requirements have been met, an email confirmation will be sent to the e-mail address of the person submitting the form.
- The room is not considered reserved until a confirmation email has been received from the library location.
- The setup and teardown time is included in the reservation to avoid meeting overlap.There are no fees for meeting room use in Neighborhood Libraries except for possible fees for “commercial photography” at any time.
Publicity about Meetings and Media
- Groups need to be informed about publicity requirements when rooms are scheduled.
- A copy of all print and social media publicity must be submitted to Library Manager or Designee for approval prior to publication or distribution; final approval is provided by the Library’s Communications Division. Display of any publicity is subject to Library Policy: Display of Materials. Standard review of publicity may take up to three (3) business days before material is approved for distribution.
- Publicity must include the following two statements:
- “This program is not sponsored or endorsed by the Houston Public Library.”
- “If you have a special physical or communications need that may impact your participation in this activity, please contact (name) at (phone number), (email) at least 72 hours prior to the event to discuss accommodations. We cannot ensure the availability of accommodations without prior notifications of need.”
- The group is responsible for making any accommodations required by meeting attendees.
- Media Presence: The Houston Public Library Communications Division must be notified at least 24 hours in advance when media will be present.
- All photo and/or film requests should be forwarded to Library Administration.
- All groups must comply with Library Rules.
- Adult supervision is required for any event attended by individuals under the age of 18.
- The authorized representative for the group must:
- Ensure that all rules of the library are observed.
- Notify the library staff when the meeting room has been vacated and the number of attendees.
- Be held responsible for group’s meeting, behavior, damage, breakage, theft or misuse of library facilities.
- Rooms should be left reasonably neat with all trash in the receptacles provided and furniture returned to its proper place upon completion of the meeting.
- The Library reserves the right to attend any meetings held in its facilities. Doors to meeting rooms should remain unlocked to allow access to the meeting space by the public and staff.
- The Library may withhold use from any groups or organizations due to violations of the rules regarding meeting room use, including no shows without cancellation, exceeding the time limit of the room, having food, or failure to restore the room to its original condition.
Violation of Meeting Room Rules/Regulations: When it is observed that a group violates the meeting room rules and regulations, a manager or person in charge shall:
- Inform the customer that their conduct is in violation of the Library's regulations. This should always be done in a courteous, tactful, and professional manner. If the customer's conduct is disturbing other customers, bring this to their attention.
- Library staff should not interrupt a meeting already in progress but wait until the meeting has concluded before proceeding. If a violation has been discovered prior to the meeting date, the group should be notified that they are not following the meeting room regulations. If they do not agree to follow the regulations, suspension of the use of the room can take effect before the meeting starts or the meeting reservation can be cancelled.
- After receiving a warning, a group should not again violate the Library’s regulations. If staff observes a second violation of the meeting room rules, staff can suspend use of the meeting room according to the severity of the offense.
- Short Term Suspension (90 days)
- Exceeding time booked in the meeting room
- Not letting staff or general public into the meeting room
- Serving food
- Using candles or other open flame devices
- Long Term Suspension (180 days to indefinite)
- Charging admission for meetings
- Selling products or services during the meeting