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February 7, 2016

About the Library

Library Use Policies : Rules of Conduct

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Rules of Conduct

Welcome to The Seattle Public Library.


The Library is supported by the taxes of the people of Seattle who expect each of our facilities to be clean, comfortable, and safe places for selecting materials, reading, researching, studying, writing, and attending programs and meetings. To this end, the Library is responsible for establishing rules of conduct to protect the rights and safety of Library patrons, volunteers, and staff, and for preserving and protecting the Library's materials, equipment, facilities, and grounds. In addition, the Library has a strong commitment to intellectual freedom and to freedom of access to information.



The Library Board of Trustees has the authority under state law to establish reasonable rules and regulations regarding the Seattle Public Libraries and to exclude any person who willfully and persistently violates those rules. (See RCW 27.12.270 and RCW 27.12.290). The rules will be enforced in a fair and reasonable manner with exclusion periods that vary based on the category of violation, with increasingly longer exclusion periods for Category A to Category E violations.



For the comfort and safety of patrons, volunteers, and staff, and the protection of Library property, the following actions are examples of conduct not allowed on Library property:


Category A (Library Specific Violation)

  • Disruptive behavior, such as creating loud noises, loud talking, screaming, or banging on computer keyboards.
  • Entering into the Library barefoot or without a shirt or removing one's footwear or shirt while in the Library, or being otherwise attired so as to be disruptive to the Library environment.
  • Having offensive body odor or personal hygiene so as to unreasonably interfere with other patrons' ability to use the Library and its facilities.
  • Consuming food or beverages in public areas of the Library not authorized by the Library Food and Beverage Guidelines (The Seattle Public Library Administrative Procedure 070-APP-805, Food and Beverage Rule Guidelines).
  • Camping on Library grounds.
  • Leaving packages, backpacks, luggage, or any other personal items unattended. These unattended items are subject to immediate confiscation.
  • Moving Library furniture from where it is placed by Library staff.
  • Using wheeled devices inside the Library or on Library grounds, except in designated areas, including use of skateboards, roller-skates, bicycles, motorized or non-motorized scooters, and shopping carts that are larger than allowed by the restriction on allowable articles. These restrictions do not apply to ADA assistive devices or baby strollers.
  • Lying down or appearing to be sleeping in the Library; having feet on furniture; or blocking aisles, exits or entrances.
  • Neglecting to provide proper supervision of children (The Seattle Public Library Policy #6h, Unattended Children).
  • Bringing pets or animals, other than service animals necessary for disabilities, into the Library, except as authorized by the City Librarian.
  • Inappropriate use of Library property in Library facilities or on Library grounds, including computer hardware and software, printers (The Seattle Public Library Policy #6g, Public Use of the Internet), copiers, phones, and other equipment.
  • Engaging in any activity in violation of a Library policy.
  • Gambling.
  • Using audible devices without headphones or with headphones set at a volume that disturbs others. Using cell phones, pagers, and other communication devices in a manner that disturbs others. Audible cell phone and pager ringers must be turned off.
  • Littering.
  • Smoking, chewing, and other tobacco use on Library property.
  • Bringing in items excluding personal items (purse, laptop, briefcase) that occupy floor space in excess of 14"W x17" H x 20". Items are measured in totality and must be placed and fit easily into a measuring box of the above dimensions.
  • Distributing literature, gathering signatures, soliciting contributions or conducting surveys inside a library or on library grounds, including plazas outside library entrances, without Library authorization. No Library authorization is required to distribute literature, gather signatures, solicit contributions, or conduct surveys on the public sidewalks adjacent to Library property.
  • Placing any tables or other structures on Library property, including Library grounds.
  • Failing to comply with a reasonable staff request to cease behavior that interferes with the effective functioning of the library.
  • End of list


Category B (Serious Library Specific Violations)

  • Using restrooms for bathing or shampooing, doing laundry, or changing clothes.
  • Verbally or physically harassing other patrons, volunteers, or staff, including stalking, staring, or lurking.
  • Entering the library or library grounds during a period of exclusion.
  • End of list


Category C (Drug or Alcohol Possession or Use)

  • Being under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances.
  • Possession or use of alcohol.



Category D (Violation Toward Person(s) or Property)

  • Damaging or stealing personal or Library property in Library facilities or on Library grounds, including computer hardware and software, printers (The Seattle Public Library Policy #6g, Public Use of the Internet), copiers, phones, and other equipment (valued under $250).
  • Verbally intimidating staff, volunteers, or other patrons.
  • Engaging in any other behavior that would constitute a misdemeanor under applicable law.
  • End of list


Category E (Serious Violation Toward Person(s) or Property)

  • Carrying, exhibiting, displaying, or drawing any firearm in a manner that demonstrates an intent to intimidate another or that warrants alarm for the safety of other persons.
  • Possession of any other dangerous weapon.
  • Assault, fighting, or challenging to fight.
  • Selling, using, or possessing controlled substances or selling alcohol.
  • Damaging or stealing personal or Library property in Library facilities or on Library grounds, including computer hardware and software, printers (The Seattle Public Library Policy #6g, Public Use of the Internet), copiers, phones, and other equipment (valued at $250 or above).
  • Refusing to leave Library property after being issued a Notice of Exclusion.
  • Offensive touching and obscene acts such as sex acts, and indecent exposure.
  • Trespassing in nonpublic areas, being in the Library without permission of an authorized Library employee before or after Library operating hours, remaining on Library property once excluded.
  • Threatening other patrons, volunteers, or staff - verbally, physically or in writing, including all forms of electronic media.
  • Engaging in any other behavior that would constitute a felony under applicable law.
  • End of list



Authorized library staff and/or Seattle Police Officers may intervene to stop prohibited activities and behaviors. Failure to comply with these rules may result in: 1) withdrawal of a person's permission to remain on Library property; and/or 2) issuance of a Notice of Exclusion from Library property for a period of one day to two years, as provided in policies and procedures issued by the City Librarian. A violation of law may also result in arrest and prosecution. Violations of law and/or these rules may also result in the restriction and/or termination of Library privileges, including the use of Library computers and other equipment. Authorized personnel may base a Notice of Exclusion on personal observation or upon the sort of civilian reports that would ordinarily be relied upon by police officers in the determination of probable cause.



An individual who has received a Notice of Exclusion may timely request an administrative review of an exclusion order that is for a period greater than seven days. (The Seattle Public Library Policy #3j, Rules of Conduct Enforcement).



The Board delegates to the City Librarian the authority to adopt policies, procedures and guidelines to implement these Rules of Conduct. Such policies, procedures, and guidelines may include, but are not limited to:


  1. Specifying which Seattle Public Library personnel are authorized to issue Notices of Exclusion;
  2. Specifying whether non-library personnel, including Seattle Police Department personnel, may issue Notices of Exclusion and, if so, for which particular violations;
  3. Providing guidance regarding the range of possible periods of exclusion for particular violations, including factors such as the nature and seriousness of the violation and whether it is a first or repeat offense; and,
  4. Providing procedures for the administrative review of Notices of Exclusion.


Individuals with disabilities may request reasonable accommodation by calling 206-386-4690 or emailing


DATE ADOPTED: Oct. 23, 2013

DATE EFFECTIVE: Jan. 2, 2014



Rules of Conduct Policy adopted May 27, 1997, revised January 22, 2002, March 16, 2004, April 27, 2006 and July 15, 2009