Rules of Conduct Policy

The Somerville Public Library is dedicated to providing services, materials, and space that meet the educational, cultural, recreational, and informational needs of all people in the community. From introducing libraries to young children and their families, to supporting their needs in school, through meeting their educational and recreational needs as adults, the Library and its information professionals support information literacy and 21st century library skills, life-long learning, freedom of information, and the reading, listening, viewing, and computing needs and enjoyment of the community.

In order to maintain an environment that supports these activities, we ask all library users to respect the following guidelines so that all may feel safe and undisturbed in our libraries.

Failure to comply with these guidelines may result in suspension of library privileges.

All patrons must wear a shirt and shoes in the library.

Children under the age of 7 must be accompanied by someone age 14 or older at all times. If a problem arises with a child of any age, and library staff are unable to locate a parent or guardian, police may be called at the discretion of the staff.

Cell phones must be silenced in all areas of the library. Brief phone conversations are allowed only in the library lobby.

Food and drink are permitted in public areas of the Central and West Branch libraries, with the exception that no drinks are allowed while using a library computer. Drinks must be in enclosed containers. Patrons must promptly dispose of crumbs, wrappers, containers, etc. in wastebaskets. At the East Branch, food is not permitted as a pest control measure.

In order to prevent theft and to enhance the security of the library, upon reasonable suspicion, library staff may check all backpacks, knapsacks, and other items that may be used for carrying or transporting items, including weapons, whether an alarm has been triggered or not.

The public must use authorized entrances to and exits from the library.

Library users are expected to comply with our Computer and Internet Policies and our Hate Speech Policy.

The following acts and behaviors are not appropriate and are prohibited in all Somerville Public Library buildings:

  • Creating a disturbance by making noise, talking loudly, yelling, or engaging in disruptive behavior (Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 272, Section 41).
  • Prolonged visiting or socializing in public areas of the library.
  • Threatening the safety or rights of library users or staff, or interfering with the library staff’s performance of their duties. This includes harassment or intimidation by means of disorderly behavior, abusive, obscene, threatening, or profane language, or by the possession of weapons (MGL Ch. 269, Sec. 10).
  • Indecent exposure and lewd speech or behavior (MGL Ch 272, Sec. 53).
  • Loitering near or obstructing public entrances and exits or aisles.
  • Running or jumping.
  • Entering areas designated “Staff Only” without authorization.
  • Throwing, bouncing, or playing with a ball or other object.
  • Using or storing wheeled devices in the library, including bicycles, roller blades, scooters, skateboards and other devices. Collapsible wheeled carts for shopping, wheelchairs, walkers and strollers are welcome. These items may be brought on library premises but at no time may they be left unattended anywhere in the library building, or obstruct public entrances, exits, or aisles.
  • Playing audio equipment so that others are able to hear it.
  • Bringing animals into the library except those needed to assist persons with disabilities. (MGL Ch. 272, Sec. 98A, ADA Requirements: Service Animals) or for library programming.
  • Use of the restroom by more than one person at a time, except in the case of a person attending a young child or an infirm or disabled person.
  • Misuse of the restroom, for example, as a laundry, bathing facility, or for phone calls.
  • Smoking or vaping: lighting or possessing a cigar, cigarette, pipe or other tobacco or non-tobacco product designed to be combusted and inhaled (MGL Ch. 270, Sec. 22).
  • Spitting (MGL Ch. 270, Sec. 14).
  • Theft, defacement, or damage of library materials or property (MGL Ch. 266, Sec. 99, Sec. 99A, and Sec. 100). Parents can be held lia-ble for damage done by a child under age 18 (MGL Ch. 231, Sec. 85G).
  • The use of false identification to obtain a library card or to check out library materials, or the use of another person’s library card without that person’s permission (MGL Ch. 231, Sec.99A).

Approved by the Somerville Public Library Board of Trustees, November 14, 2018

Reviewed by City of Somerville Law Department, December 2018