New and renovated libraries face the challenge of deciding on how to best utilize their library meeting room. For a library that has never had a community meeting space before, the issues can seem very complex and daunting. You will need a comprehensive policy in place to help you make the best use of this valuable library resource.
1. Your board will need to decide what the policy is going to be concerning profit vs. non-profit use of the meeting room. Likewise for religious groups, civic groups, government, and clubs. Likewise for weddings, anniversaries or private parties. There is nothing inherently preventing any or all of these kinds of uses. However, the board will need to clarify its position explicitly.
2. Fees for use, deposits, payment terms and other financial matters should be discussed, decided and put in writing. A simple contract or agreement for each use of the meeting room is recommended.
3. Be sure to specify the primacy of library and library-related events for your meeting room. “First dibs” should always go to library programs, and library-sponsored events.
Below are some actual sample statements from other libraries around the country that might be good discussion starters for you and the board:
Meeting rooms are used for programs sponsored by the Library, Trustees, and Friends of the Library. The meeting rooms are intended to further the library’s mission and fulfill its primary purpose of library service to the community at large. When library activities are not taking place, other groups may use the rooms for lawful purposes.
Requests for reservations must be confirmed by written application within five days and must be accompanied by a (refundable, non-refundable) (deposit, application fee). No meeting is confirmed until the (deposit, application fee) is paid.
To qualify for a waiver of fees, a civic group should be a non-profit recognized by the IRS and/or State of Kansas. The meeting should be open to the public. If not open to the public, private function fees will apply.
Meetings that interfere with normal library functions will not be permitted.
Meeting rooms may not be used by profit-making ventures or by representatives of profit-making companies and/or organizations to advertise or sell their goods or services.
Library facilities may not be used for any religious worship, exercise or instruction, or the support of any religious establishment.
Public meeting room use does not constitute library endorsement of the beliefs or ideas expressed by organizations or individuals using the space. Meetings should not be publicized in a manner that suggests library sponsorship or affiliation.
Only regularly-convening (e.g., monthly) non-profit civic groups and educational groups may request recurring meeting.
Refreshments may be served in the meeting rooms. Catered and/or prepared food may be brought in. Pre-prepared food and coffee/tea preparation is allowed, but other light refreshment preparation in the library kitchen will require the fee for kitchen use and clean-up.
Alcoholic beverages are permitted/not permitted. If permitted, restrictions are: (specify)
The library does not assume liability for injury or damage to person property which occurs as a result of the actions of the sponsors or participants in a meeting scheduled at the library.
The Library Board subscribes to the tenets of the Library Bill of Rights, which states in part, Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.
Library staff may attend or observe any meeting or program at any time.
The Library Board expects that any group utilizing the meeting rooms will comply with the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act which require that a meeting or materials at a meeting be provided in an accessible format in response to a request.
Meeting rooms are scheduled on a first come, first served basis.
Meeting rooms may not be used for social gatherings such as showers, birthday parties, dances, etc.
Meeting rooms may not be used for religious services or political rallies, caucuses, or campaigns for specific partisan political issues or candidates (however, religious study groups and political forums are permitted).
Allowed Meetings (in priority order):
1. Library Programs and events
2. Library Related Groups, such as Friends
3. Civic, School, Government and nonprofit groups presenting open meetings of public interest
4. All other groups not included above, and not specifically excluded by Library policy
The library’s meeting rooms are not available for private social functions such as weddings, birthday or anniversary parties, or for individual use.
You are responsible for leaving the room in the same condition in which it was found. You are financially responsible for any damage to the room, furniture, carpeting or equipment. The Library is not responsible for lost or stolen items. Before leaving, put reserved AV equipment in locked storage room, turn out all lights and close all doors. Check that all outside doors are secured and locked, including panic bars. The meeting room key must be returned directly to library front desk staff during business hours. A fee will be charged to the borrower for any key not returned. Future use of the meeting room may be denied to any group failing to comply with these regulations.
Meeting room may be used for library book sales or other fund-raising events, but not for the solicitation or sale of any other goods, services, etc. for any other purpose.
The Library meeting room is available for rental for private events which are appropriate for the space requested. A private event is defined as a scheduled activity that is deemed as such at the discretion of the Library Director. Authorized events to be held during the hours of public service must not disrupt or disturb the Library’s public service areas. Library staff must be allowed access to the area.