General Policies and Rules


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  1. General Policies and Rules

  2. Child and Youth Safety at the Library

  3. Attendance at Library Public Programs

General Policies and Rules 

In order to maintain a safe and welcoming environment for reading, learning, and other Library activities, The New York Public Library requires all visitors, including children and teens, to comply with our General Policies and Rules. 

Please note, Library staff and security may:

  • Inspect any property of a patron who enters or leaves the Library.
  • Ask patrons to show their library card or other ID.

Failure to comply with the Library’s General Policies and Rules may result in a warning, restriction, or termination of Library privileges, and/or immediate removal from the Library. Individuals who refuse to leave after a request by Library staff may be barred from visiting the Library in the future. 

Prohibited Conduct 

Engaging in conduct that disrupts or interferes with the normal operation of the Library, or that disturbs Library visitors or staff, is not permitted. The following conduct is prohibited at the Library:

  1. Disregarding instructions given by Library staff.
  2. Using obscene or abusive language or gestures.
  3. Harassment or threatening behavior.
  4. Engaging in sexual conduct or lewd behavior.
  5. Using, possessing, selling, or appearing under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs.
  6. Smoking, chewing, and using other tobacco products, including vaping and electronic cigarettes and other inhalants.
  7. Damaging, defacing, or misusing any Library materials or property. This includes disabling or unplugging Library equipment, changing hardware or software, or using a Library computer for purposes not designated by the Library.
  8. Trespassing on Library premises.
  9. Selling any goods or services; soliciting, petitioning, or canvassing.
  10. Distributing or displaying pamphlets, surveys, flyers, signs, or posters on Library premises, unless approved in advance by the Library.
  11. Unhygienic behavior and activities that disturb other patrons. Visitors must wear clothing, including shirts and shoes, in the Library. Odor must not be so offensive that it offends others.
  12. Sleeping in the Library or at the Library’s entrance.
  13. Making unreasonable use of the public restrooms, including laundering clothes and bathing. 
  14. Bringing Library property into restrooms.
  15. Making unreasonable noise. This includes loud talking, using devices (with or without headphones) at a volume that disturbs others, and using a cell phone or other voice transmission device, except in designated areas. Please silence all cell phones.
  16. Eating or drinking, except in designated areas.
  17. Monopolizing Library space, equipment or outlets to the exclusion of others.
  18. Obstructing aisles, stairways, or reading areas with personal belongings including when charging personal devices. This includes actions that block access or exits to Library premises or create safety hazards.
  19. Bringing in an animal, unless it is a service animal assisting a person with a disability.
  20. Engaging in any activity that violates federal, state, local, or other applicable law or Library policies. Viewing child pornography is illegal and subject to federal and state prosecution.

Prohibited Items

The following items are not permitted in the Library: 

  1. Carts, large bags, bags on wheels, backpacks, or collections of bags that are in excess of 24” x 16” x 10”, excluding strollers.
  2. Strollers when not intended for use with babies and infants.
  3. Any personal items that appear to be infested or have a foul odor that disturbs other persons.
  4. Bicycles or motorized vehicles. Individuals with mobility impairments are permitted to use wheelchairs, walkers, and other appropriate mobility aids on Library premises.
  5. Non-motorized skates, skateboards, and collapsible scooters (except when carried).
  6. Weapons of any kind.

Some Library locations may have additional restrictions.

Additional Policies

Visitors with disabilities may ask Library staff for reasonable accommodations. 

  1. The Library is not responsible for personal items that are lost, stolen, or damaged on Library premises. Items left unattended may be removed.
  2. Any kind of recording on Library premises requires the prior approval of the Library, and usually requires the approval of any person being photographed or recorded.
  3. Some items in the Library cannot be copied because of copyright law, poor condition, contractual restrictions, or donor restrictions; please see the Library’s “Photography & Photocopying Policy” for more information. 
  4. Using another person’s library card for any reason is expressly forbidden, unless formally authorized by the Library.
  5. Visitors to the Library who are not library cardholders may provide photo ID to obtain a one-time courtesy computer appointment.
  6. Visiting groups that require a specific service, such as use of a community room, a staff presentation, or a guided tour, must schedule their visit in advance. 
  7. The Library is not responsible for children while they are on Library premises; please see “Child and Youth Safety at the Library.”

Some Library spaces, including reading rooms, research centers, and children’s areas may have additional restrictions. 
Last Revised 12/2019

Child and Youth Safety at the Library

The New York Public Library is dedicated to providing a safe and welcoming environment that encourages children to visit the Library, use our collections and services, and attend programs. Please note the following policies:

  1. The New York Public Library requires all visitors, including children and teens, to comply with our General Policies and Rules.
  2. Library staff are available to assist and support children with their use of Library resources. 
  3. Parents, guardians, and/or the responsible caregiver—not the Library—are responsible for children in their care. 
  4. Disruptive children, attended or unattended, may be asked to leave.
  5. Parents, guardians, and/or caregivers are responsible for noting scheduled Library closing times and should be aware that a Library facility sometimes may have to close unexpectedly due to emergencies or safety issues. 
  6. The Library is not responsible if children leave the Library unattended. It is the responsibility of parents, guardians, and/or caregivers to let their children know what they should do if they must leave the Library. 
  7. Library staff may call appropriate City agencies if an individual appears to be truant, is left unattended when a Library facility closes, or otherwise appears to be unwilling or unable to care for themselves.
  8. Children’s areas are designated for children 12 and under; Teen areas are designated for ages 13 to 18. 
  9. Adults may visit Teen and Children’s areas only when accompanied by children using those departments or retrieving materials for research or checkout.
  10. Adults unaccompanied by children may be asked by Library staff to use the restrooms, facilities, services, and/or equipment in the adult section of the Library. 

Last Revised 12/2019

Attendance at Library Public Programs

As part of its mission to ensure open access to information and the exchange of ideas, The New York Public Library hosts public programs across its locations. 

The following policies apply to the Library’s public programs:

  1. All members of the public are welcome to attend the Library’s public programs, subject to any occupancy limits and, where applicable, ticketing requirements. 
  2. All Library users and program attendees must comply with the Library’s General Policies and Rules and to rules applicable to a particular venue (e.g., bag check requirements) or to a particular program (e.g., prohibitions on photography or recording). 
  3. For pre-ticketed events, attendees will only be admitted upon the presentation of a valid ticket. 
  4. The Library recognizes and supports the rights of attendees and other members of the public to exercise their rights of freedom of speech and peaceable assembly. Accordingly, picketing and distribution of literature in a traditional public forum (generally the sidewalk) outside Library premises may be conducted so long as it does not interfere with access or egress, is not disruptive to the activities within the Library, and is otherwise undertaken in accordance with any applicable local permitting and public assembly laws and regulations. Organizers of demonstrations adjacent to Library facilities are requested to inform the Library 48 hours in advance so the Library may put in place any necessary arrangements, including safety and security measures.

Failure to comply with these rules may result in expulsion from a Library program or facility, suspension of Library privileges, and/or arrest and prosecution to the full extent of the law.

The Library reserves the right to amend these rules.

Last Revised 12/2019