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Rules of Conduct


The Board of the Nashville Public Library welcomes visitors and encourages them to use its resources. The Board also acknowledges the necessity to maintain an environment in which patrons and staff can be free from harassment, intimidation, threats to their safety and well-being, and protects library resources and facilities from damage. To provide safeguards against such behavior and damage to property, the Library Board has adopted the following Rules of Conduct, which specify the type of activities or behavior that is not permitted on library premises.

The Library remains vigilant in ensuring patrons act appropriately and are reasonably safe within the library. In addition to the enforcement of its own policies, the Library reserves the right to enforce restrictions on access to the Library of any person listed on the sexual offender registry as authorized under, and in the manner contemplated by, Tennessee Code Annotated 40-39-216, on a case by case basis when made aware of a problem situation.

These rules of conduct shall apply to all buildings, interior and exterior, and all grounds controlled and operated by the Nashville Public Library (such buildings and grounds are hereafter referred to as the “premises”) and to all persons entering in or on the premises.

Listed below are the library’s rules of conduct. Persons who violate these rules may be ejected from the premises and excluded from all library premises for the time prescribed below.

Rules of Conduct - Class I Offenses

Any person engaging in the following prohibited behavior will be given a verbal warning and explanation of the rules and will be asked to comply. If the person violates these rules for a second time, they will be given a written warning. For a third offense the patron will be asked to leave the premises for the remainder of that day. A fourth violation of these rules will result in a suspension for one day. A fifth violation will result in a 5-day suspension. A sixth violation will result in a suspension up to 30 days. Should any person refuse to comply or leave the premises for the remainder of the day they will be considered in criminal trespass and in violation of Class II Offense #19. This will result in an expulsion from thirty (30) days up to one (1) year.

  1. Distributing or posting printed materials and literature that have not been approved by the library, soliciting, petitioning, canvassing on library premises except as approved by the library.
  2. Participating in a gang or gang-related activity. Gang-related activity includes, but is not limited to: the display or possession of gang symbols or paraphernalia, gang recruitment, gang initiation, and gang intimidation.
  3. Food and covered drinks are allowed unless otherwise posted; debris, mess and strong odors are not. Unless specifically authorized by library administration for facility events, alcohol is not permitted on library property.
  4. Smoking in the library or in areas immediately adjacent to any entrance or use of smokeless tobacco in the library.
  5. Sleeping, placing head on table for prolonged periods of time; congregating on library premises in a manner which obstructs access or interferes with use of library facilities or services or where such activity may result in an unsafe or intimidating environment; not using the library for intended purposes, lying or sitting on floors, tables or planters; lying on benches; school age students being on library premises during school hours excluding home school students or school sponsored visits.
  6. Using library materials, equipment, furniture, fixtures or buildings in a manner inconsistent with the customary use thereof; or in a destructive, abusive, or potentially damaging manner; or in a manner likely to cause personal injury. Bringing bicycles, shopping carts or similar devices into library buildings including vestibules and covered doorways. (Patrons with disabilities may ask staff for reasonable accommodations.) The use of skates, skate boards and/or roller blades or similar devices on library premises.
  7. Bringing animals or pets, other than those assisting persons with disabilities, into the library facility. Leaving animals tethered and unattended on library premises.
  8. Creating loud noises and/or disturbances which interfere with staff and or other patrons’ use and enjoyment of the library including, but not limited to, by verbal utterances or with electronic devices.
  9. Leaving children unattended or unsupervised where the child may be in danger or when the child’s behavior is disruptive to other patrons. Leaving children or young adults in library facilities after closing time (see library's policy regarding children remaining at the library after closing time).
  10. Misuse of rest rooms. Misuse includes shaving, washing clothing and bathing (other than face and hands).
  11. Bringing large items that take up excessive space (packages, duffel bags, suitcases, etc.), onto library premises without the prior approval of library personnel. Excessive space shall be defined as an item or group of items exceeding 2.5 ft. in length, or 2.5 ft. in width, or 2.5 ft. in height. Leaving personal items unattended for longer than thirty (30) minutes, including but not limited to: bags, suitcases, electronic devices and other personal belongings. Items left longer than thirty (30) minutes may be taken to lost and found and inventoried for security reasons.
  12. Being on library premises between one (1) hour after official public closing time and one (1) hour before official opening time except for returning library materials to after-hours book drops and attending special events authorized by the library. Entering the library with no shoes or shirt.
  13. Disturbing others because of offensive odor of the body, clothes or belongings.
  14. Violations of posted Library policies, procedures or guidelines.

Rules of Conduct - Class II Offenses

Any persons engaging in the following prohibited behavior will be suspended from all Nashville Public Library premises for a period of thirty (30) to ninety (90) days. Subsequent violations by that person will result in a suspension of up to one (1) year depending upon the number of repeat offenses.

  1. Directing a specific threat of physical harm against an individual, group of individuals or property.
  2. Intentionally damaging, defacing, destroying, or stealing property belonging to the library, a patron or employee. Library patrons are subject to search.
  3. Intentionally engaging in harassing or threatening behavior towards other patrons or library employees for the purpose of annoying, intimidating or causing fear to the recipient. Using obscene or abusive language or gestures in a manner which reasonably can be expected to annoy or disturb other patrons or library staff (including following persons around the premises or prolonged staring).
  4. Bringing any firearm and/or weapon onto library premises. This prohibition does not apply to law enforcement personnel on official duty.
  5. Entering library premises while on suspension for patron conduct rules.
  6. Any violation of Federal, State, or local laws.

Rules of Conduct - Class III Offenses

Any person engaging in the following prohibited behavior will be suspended from all Nashville Public Library premises for a period of one (1) year and the library may pursue criminal charges. If the person is convicted or pleads guilty to criminal charges, the patron will be suspended for five (5) years or for the length of the sentence imposed by the court, whichever is longer, pending review and approval by the Library Director.

  1. Physical assault of a customer or employee.
  2. Engaging in sexual conduct including but not limited to indecent exposure or the physical manipulation or touching of a person’s sex organs through a person’s clothing in an act of apparent sexual stimulation or gratification.
  3. Intentionally damaging, defacing, destroying or stealing property belonging to the library, a patron or employee resulting in felony charges.

Patron's Right to Appeal Certain Actions Taken by Library Staff or Administration

The Board of the Public Library of Nashville and Davidson County (the "Board") recognizes a responsibility to make all reasonable efforts to facilitate the enjoyment of library facilities by all library patrons. The Board also recognizes that a library patron's disorderly conduct or other serious violations may require library personnel to take immediate action for the protection of other personnel and patrons.

For these reasons, the Board hereby delegates to the Manager of each Library facility the authority to suspend from all Library Facilities as noted in the rules.

Any suspension imposed under this policy shall be issued in writing and given directly to the patron at the time of the incident. In the event the patron leaves the premises before the notice is issued or if the patron refuses to receive the notice, the notice will be held at the location of the incident until the patron returns or in the case where the patron refuses to receive the notice, the notice will be retained as documentation of the suspension at the location where the incident took place. The notice shall state the length and reason for the suspension and the effective date of the suspension. The notice shall also include a statement informing the patron that he/she may appeal the suspension. The patron may appeal a suspension greater than three days by submitting a request for reconsideration form within seven (7) days from the date the patron receives notice of the suspension to the Administrative Services Administrator at the address provided to the patron in the notice of suspension. The request for reconsideration should include reasons why the suspension should be lifted or modified. If the patron timely appeals the imposition of a class I offense suspension, the suspension for the class I offense shall be stayed pending the outcome of the Appeal Panel on the matter. The Appeal Panel shall consider the request for reconsideration within a reasonable time from the date it receives notice of the patron’s appeal.

The Board further instructs the Executive Director of the Library to appoint an Administrative Appeal Panel to review appeals from patrons seeking to challenge a suspension imposed by a library Manager issued under this policy. The Appeal Panel shall be reconstituted for each such appeal and shall consist of one or more members of the Library Administration who have had no prior involvement in the suspension. Upon receipt of the suspension reconsideration form the Administrative Services Administrator will contact the patron to schedule an in-person appeal with the appeal panel. The appeal hearing will be informal and conducted for the purpose of explaining the suspension and allowing the patron’s response. At the appeal hearing, the suspended patron may bring a legal representative of his/her choosing and present statements or documents, or call witnesses with information relevant to the appeal decision. The patron and library staff/security will each be given 15 minutes to present information related to the incident/appeal to the appeal panel. Follow-up questions by the appeal panel will not count toward each side’s 15 minutes. Should the patron fail to attend the scheduled appeal hearing, and after a 15 minute grace period, the appeal panel may proceed with the hearing as scheduled and a recommendation rendered based on the evidence and information presented at the hearing. Upon conclusion of the meeting, the appeal panel will make a recommendation to the Executive Director to uphold, modify or remove the suspension or the appeal panel may take the appeal under advisement for further review of information such as previous conduct violations and suspensions. The Executive Director will render a final decision and make reasonable effort to notify the patron of the decision within 3 days of the conclusion of the appeal meeting. The Board authorizes the Director to take measures necessary for the implementation of this policy.