Patron Behavior Policy
To ensure that all people who use and work at the Highland Park Public Library can do so in a comfortable and safe environment, the Highland Park Public Library Board of Trustees and Staff expect patrons to maintain an acceptable standard of conduct on the library premises. In order to ensure that every patron has the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of the Library, patrons visiting or using the Library’s facilities or services must comply with the Highland Park Public Library’s Patron Behavior Policy while on the Library’s premises. Violations of this Policy may subject the patron to suspension or revocation of his or her Library privileges.
The following behavior is prohibited on Library premises:
- Committing or attempting to commit any activity that would constitute a crime or offense under Federal, State or municipal law, rule regulation and/or ordinance
- Engaging in intimidating or harassing behaviors, including but not limited to: following or stalking other patrons or Library staff, staring fixedly or leering at others
- Physical abuse or assault, including fighting or challenging others to fight
- Making violent or threatening statements to others
- Damaging, destroying, stealing, or otherwise vandalizing Library property
- Using harassing, obscene, abusive, or insulting language or gestures or otherwise interfering with other patrons or staff
- Leaving children under the age of ten (10) unattended by a parent, guardian, or caregiver
- Entering the Library with animals other than service animals authorized by law
- Entering (and/or using in) the Library with any type of skates, scooters, bicycles, shopping carts, or other bulky items excluding items necessary to assist individuals with disabilities
- Eating or drinking in the Library except for bottled water with a secure top
- Sleeping for more than 15 minutes
- Using the public restrooms in any manner that is not usual or customary, including laundering or bathing
- Failing to wear a shirt, top, pants, skirt, or shoes
- Ringing of and talking on cell phones inside the building (silent mode and texting are permitted) or using other personal electronic equipment at a volume which is disturbing to other patrons. Volumes should be set to silent or vibrate and headphones should be used
- Petitioning, soliciting, or selling merchandise or services including the distribution of handbills or flyers without the written permission of the Library Director
- Adults loitering in the children’s room/area without a child
- Refusal to follow reasonable direction from Library staff, including but not limited to leaving the Library during normal closing procedures or following a suspension of Library privileges or refusing to evacuate during an emergency
Inappropriate conduct includes any individual or group activity which disrupts the use of Library facilities, collections, services or programs by patrons or disrupts the ability of Library staff to perform their duties. Inappropriate conduct is not permitted at any time and any patron engaging in same shall cease such activity immediately upon request by Library personnel.
Any patron engaging in one or more of the above behaviors will be instructed to leave the Library immediately and may have his or her Library privileges suspended depending on the severity of the violation. In addition, law enforcement may be called and appropriate legal action may follow.
The library staff enjoys treating their patrons with respect and expects to be respectfully treated by patrons in return. Any problems should be brought to the attention of the Director as soon as possible.
Approved, Highland Park Public Library Board of Trustees February 25, 2019
Staff Response to Infractions:
Violation of patron conduct rules is misconduct that may result in expulsion from the Library and forfeiture of Library privileges. Minor violations of these rules will first result in Library staff educating the patron about the rules, issuing a warning, and requesting that the activity immediately cease. If, following such a request, the patron fails or refuses to comply or responds to the request in an abusive fashion, he or she will be required to leave the premises immediately for the balance of the day. If he or she fails to leave, the police will be summoned. Prior to the removal of a minor, Library staff shall give the minor an opportunity to contact a parent or guardian. The Library reserves the right to seek an immediate implementation of a suspension.
After the staff or Library Director determine that a person has engaged in a severe or repeated misconduct and the Library Director or designee has determined that the individual involved should be suspended:
- Staff will inform the Director in writing of the name (if provided) and description of the individual involved and a description of the underlying behavior.
After consultation, if the Director agrees with the reasons for the suspension, then the Director will initiate the suspension process.
- The Director shall issue, or cause to be issued, a written suspension letter to the individual involved notifying the individual that s/he is suspended from the Library. The letter shall indicate the reasons for the ban and the time period of the ban. The Director shall also notify the banned individual of the process for appealing the suspension. Such letter will be sent via regular and certified mail, return receipt requested, to the individual’s last known address, with a copy to the President, Library Board of Trustees, the Borough Administrator and the Chief of Police. A sample suspension letter, for reference only, is included in this Policy.
- The suspended individual has the right to appeal the ban using the Appeal Procedure set forth below.
Alternative Suspension Procedure for Minors:
As an alternative to suspending a minor, the Library Director (or his/her designee) can restrict a minor (individual who is eighteen (18) years or younger) from independent use of the Library for a period of thirty (30) calendar days (first (1st) restriction) or ninety (90) calendar days (second (2nd) restriction). The minor whose library use is restricted may use the Library during the specified period only when he or she is accompanied by a responsible parent or guardian. The minor’s parent or guardian must be notified of the restriction via regular and certified mail, return receipt requested, with a copy to the Borough Administrator and the Chief of Police. Failure to abide by the restriction will lead to banning the minor from the Library even with parental/guardian supervision. The minor’s parent or guardian may appeal the restriction using the Appeal Procedure below.
Sample Suspension Letter (for reference purposes only):
Dear Sir or Madam:
On ______________________ (date) at approximately ______________________ (time) you were observed at the Highland Park Public Library. At that time you were engaged in inappropriate conduct in violation of the Library’s Behavior Policy/Code of Conduct. Specifically, your conduct included the following:
Because of the behavior listed above and/or your history of inappropriate conduct at the Library, you are hereby suspended from accessing the Library until the date listed below. If you enter the Library before the date listed below, the Highland Park Police Department will be called and you will be subject to arrest for trespassing.
Within ten (10) calendar days of your receipt of this letter, you may file a written request addressed to the Library Director and the President, Library Board of Trustees, c/o Highland Park Public Library, 31 North 5th Avenue, Highland Park, NJ 08904, to reconsider this suspension. Your written request shall set forth your reasons for reconsideration of the suspension. The length of this suspension shall remain as stated in this document unless and until the Library Board of Trustees issues a written determination altering same.
SUSPENDED FROM LIBRARY FOR A PERIOD OF ______ DAYS.
DATE OF RETURN: _______________________
Highland Park Public Library
(Name and Title)
cc: President, Library Board of Trustees
Chief of Police
The Director’s written determination may be appealed to the Library’s Board of Trustees, if the individual aggrieved files a written letter of appeal within ten (10) calendar days after he/she receives the determination. Such letter shall be sent to the Library Director and the President of the Library’s Board of Trustees, c/o Highland Park Public Library, 31 North 5th Avenue, Highland Park, NJ 08904. The letter shall set forth the reason(s) why the Board of Trustees should reconsider the suspension or revocation of Library privileges. The Board shall consider the appeal at a hearing which will be conducted at the next regularly scheduled Board meeting and render a decision thereafter. The affected individual may attend such meeting and address the Board during the hearing. The Board shall cause the individual to be informed of the decision in writing via regular and certified mail, return receipt requested, with a copy to the Library Director, the Borough Administrator, and the Chief of Police.
Neither the Director nor any other member of the Library staff is a professional medical or legal expert. All actions undertaken pursuant to this Policy shall be subject to the reasonable judgment of the Director and Library staff.
The Highland Park Public Library will be consistent in enforcing this Behavior
Policy/Code of Conduct to ensure the safety of patrons and staff and create an environment that is conducive to the proper use of Library materials, facilities, programs and services.
Individuals who require an accommodation of this Behavior Policy/Code of Conduct on medical, religious or other grounds may contact the Library Director.