What are the library’s rules?
Library customers are expected to conduct themselves in a manner which shows respect for others and the library. See Notice for All Users.
A. Short Term Suspension (1 Day – 90 Days)
Customer(s) engaging in the following prohibited behavior will first be given a verbal warning and explanation of the rules and asked to comply. If the customer(s) continues to engage in the prohibited behavior, they may be given a short-term suspension. Additional repeated prohibited behavior can lead to long term suspension or indefinite suspension.
First Offense - 1 Day Suspension
Second Offense - 30 Days Suspension
Third Offense - 90 Days Suspension
1. Using furniture for any purpose other than for which it is intended.
2. Smoking, vaping, or other tobacco use inside a library or on library premises. (See City of Houston Ordinances, Chapter 21, Article IX, Section 21-237)
3. Eating and drinking except as permitted by Library policy. (See section D)
4. Bringing in any animals, except animals assisting persons with disabilities as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
5. Not wearing shoes or a shirt, or wearing clothing that exposes underwear or private body parts.
6. Using Library restrooms for shaving, bathing or any purpose other than for which restrooms are intended.
7. Taking library materials into restrooms
8. Producing disruptive sounds including use of personal communications or entertainment devices.
9. Selling/soliciting (approaching others with items for sale or asking for donations)
10. Distributing or posting printed materials/literature not in accordance with library regulations.
11. Spreading out personal belongings unrelated to the use of Library services or obstructing aisles, walkways, corridors, doorways, workspaces, or reading areas of library facilities. Unattended bags or other personal items represent a safety and security risk and may not be left on library property (See section E).
12. Offensive bodily hygiene that constitutes a nuisance to others.
13. Bringing in unfurled bedrolls, blankets, and sleeping bags and large items such as frame backpacks, suitcases, bicycles, or bags measuring more than three feet in length or height. A maximum of two bags of any type will be allowed. (See section E).
14. Use of roller skates, scooters, skateboards, bicycles, or other similar devices in Library buildings.
15. Adults in youth designated areas or programs when not accompanied by a child or teen. (See section H)
16. Parking vehicle on library premises for purposes other than library use without approval.
B. Long Term Suspension (180 days - Indefinite)
Violation of the following rules will result in long term or indefinite suspension. An Indefinite Suspension is defined as “at all times” and can be for select or all Houston Public Library locations and property. The severity of an offense may result in Indefinite Systemwide Suspension.
First Offense - 180 Days Suspension
Second Offense - Indefinite Suspension from library location
Third Offense - Indefinite Systemwide Suspension
1. Use of abusive, harassing, or insulting language towards a staff person or another customer.
2. Using or possessing alcohol or illegal drugs on library premises.
3. Entering non-public or staff-only areas of the library premises without permission from authorized personnel and refusing to leave, staying in a library when requested to leave during emergency situations or drills, or remaining in a library after closing.
4. Viewing material deemed to be obscene as defined in the Children’s Internet Protection Act and the Texas Penal Code. See CIPA FAQ for more information.
5. Returning to library premises before a short-term suspension period has ended and refusing to leave.
C. Indefinite Systemwide Suspension
The following will result in an indefinite systemwide suspension from all Houston Public Library locations. The police must be contacted on all matters in the following categories if the situation warrants it.
1. Acts that are subject to prosecution under criminal or civil codes of law.
2. Use of threatening language towards a staff person or another customer.
3. Possessing, using, or threatening to use an object in a manner that can be considered a weapon.
4. Physical abuse and assault.
5. Public lewdness, sexual activity, indecent exposure, or masturbation.
6. Disorderly conduct or deliberate repeated behavior that is intimidating, hostile, offensive or adversely impacts customer peaceful use and enjoyment of Library premises, services, or programs, staff or volunteer work performance, and library operations.
7. Intentional abuse or vandalism of library facilities, materials or equipment including depositing bodily fluids on library premises, property, collections, equipment, and furnishings.
8. Damaging, destroying, or stealing library or personal property including tampering with security or safety devices. (See Section J).
9. Unlawfully carrying a weapon. (See Texas Penal Code Title 10. Offenses Against Public Health, Safety, and Morals, Chapter 46. Weapons)
10. Viewing material deemed to be child pornography or harmful to minors, as those terms are defined in the Children’s Internet Protection Act and the Texas Penal Code. See CIPA FAQ for more information.
11. Returning to library premises before a long-term suspension period has ended and refusing to leave.
12. Customers who receive a third indefinite suspension from any location will automatically receive a systemwide suspension.
D. Food and Beverages
The consumption of non-alcoholic beverages in covered containers is permitted at most Library locations except the Houston History Research Center, TECHLink, and The African American History Research Center. At the Family History Research Center at the Clayton Library Campus, non-alcoholic beverages in covered containers may be consumed only in designated areas. Food may be permitted in library facilities if there is a designated area. If the Library is designated an emergency shelter, the Library Director or designee may suspend these rules.
E. Personal Belongings
Houston Public Library has established guidelines for personal belongings brought into library facilities for the health and safety of Library customers and staff and to ensure unimpeded access to the library’s services and collections.
1. The following items are prohibited in all library buildings:
- Unfurled bedrolls, blankets, and sleeping bags.
- Large items such as frame backpacks, suitcases, or bags measuring more than three feet in length or width. A maximum of two bags of any type will be allowed.
- Carts, wagons, bicycles or wheeled devices meant for carrying baggage, except wheelchairs or strollers when used to transport an adult or child.
2. Roller skates, scooters, skateboards, bicycles, or other similar devices may not be used on Library premises
3. Personal belongings should not obstruct aisles, walkways, corridors, doorways, workspaces, or reading areas of library facilities.
4. Personal belongings may not be left unattended on library premises. Staff may dispose of unattended personal items if the owner cannot be identified, or items are not claimed. Refer to Lost and Found Policy.
F. Photography and Videotaping in the Library
1. Photography and videography that disrupts others’ peaceful enjoyment of the library is not allowed.
2. Customers using the meeting room may take photos and video inside the meeting space. There should not be any library branding in the photos or video.
3. Customers who would like to take professional photos or video inside the library need to be directed to HPL Communications and Spaces. No professional photo/video will be allowed without approval from HPL Communications.
4. Photography/Videotaping by the Media may be permitted with advance approval from the HPL Communications Department.
5. The Library reserves the right to document its services and the public’s use of the library. Official representatives of the library may take photographs, videotape, or use other recording devices within the library and at library related events, programs and activities for library purposes. When photography or recording by staff will take place, staff will either announce a warning about the photography and/or post a sign about photography in the area. See Sign
G. Adults in Youth Designated Areas
Adults may use the children’s or teen area of the library only when accompanied by a child or teen using those areas. Unaccompanied adults who are retrieving materials for research or check out may not remain in the teen or children’s areas to review materials, but instead should take them to other areas of the library to review.
1. The Library reserves the right to determine who can be in and remain in the children’s and teen areas of the Library and unaccompanied adults may be asked by staff to use the facilities, services, equipment in other areas of the library.
2. Central Library: The public restrooms on the 4th floor of the Jesse H. Jones Building may be restricted for use by only the children and teens and their accompanying parent, guardian, or caregiver. Adults without children will be directed to use other public restrooms in the building. The public restrooms may be open to customers using the Program Place meeting room at the discretion of the director or designee.
H. Reporting suspected abuse or neglect of children or adults
1. Children: Texas is a mandatory reporting state so anyone who suspects that a child is being abused or neglected has a legal obligation to report it. Family Code Chapter 261.101 https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/DOCS/FA/HTM/FA.261.HTM
2. Adults: Anyone who suspects that an adult is being abused, neglected or exploited should report it. Human Resources Code Chapter 48.051 https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/HR/htm/HR.48.htm#48.002. Adult Protective Services investigates abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation for adults aged 65 or older and adults aged 18-65 with mental, physical, or developmental disabilities that substantially impair their ability to live independently or provide for their own self-care and protection. Abuse can include repeated caretaker neglect while on library property.
3. Staff when reporting abuse should use the Texas Abuse/Neglect Hotline (1-800-252-5400) or online at www.txabusehotline.org.
I. Library Materials
All library materials must be properly checked out. If library staff/security has reasonable individualized suspicion that a library customer is attempting to exit the Library with library materials that have not been checked out, the customer may be questioned. Theft of library materials is a serious offense and may result in permanent exclusion from all Houston Public Library facilities, resources and services, and/or arrest.
J. Appeals Process
The Customer Suspension Appeals Process is for any customer that has been issued a suspension and believes the suspension has been issued unfairly or in error as outlined in Exhibit 2.3 (3) . Customers must submit the Customer Suspension Appeal Form within ten (10) days from the date the suspension was issued.
1. Customers may request to appeal their suspension through the online customer comment form, by phone (832-393-1313), by email, and by mail
2. Once a request is submitted, the customer will be contacted and provided with Customer Suspension Appeal Form via mail or e-mail.
3. The customer should provide relevant details about their suspension using the Customer Suspension Form. An appeal will not be considered without valid customer contact information.
4. The information provided by the customer as part of the appeal will be reviewed by a panel. A panel is made up of a Manager or designee, a Senior Manager, and another representative from the Executive Leadership Team.
5. The panel will inform the customer of their decision within 30 days of receiving the appeal in writing. The panel can overturn the original suspension and allow the customer to return to the library, reduce the length of the suspension, or uphold the suspension. The decision of the panel is final and cannot be appealed.