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The New York Public Library General Rules & Regulations


General Rules and Regulations

In order to maintain a safe and welcoming environment for reading, learning, and other Library activities, The New York Public Library requires all visitors to comply with the following General Rules and Regulations:

The following are NOT allowed at The New York Public Library:

  • Engaging in conduct that disrupts or interferes with normal operation of the Library, or that disturbs staff or other Library visitors. Such conduct includes:
    • Harassing or threatening behavior.
    • Using obscene or abusive language or gestures.
    • Making unreasonable noise, including loud talking on a cell phone or otherwise.
  • Engaging in sexual conduct or lewd behavior.
  • Having a knife, gun, or any other weapon.
  • Smoking.
  • Eating or drinking except in designated areas.
  • Using alcohol or illegal drugs.
  • Sleeping in the Library or at the Library’s entrance.
  • Making unreasonable use of the rest rooms, including laundering clothes and bathing.
  • Soliciting, petitioning, or canvassing.
  • Selling any goods or services.
  • Using a bicycle, skates, skateboard, scooter, or anything like them.
  • Bringing in an animal, unless it is assisting a person with a disability.
  • Damaging, defacing, or misusing any Library materials or property. This includes disabling Library equipment, changing the hardware or software or settings on a Library computer, or using a Library computer for a purpose other than that designated by the Library.
  • Engaging in any activity in violation of federal, state, local, or other applicable law or Library policies.

 Please also be aware that:

  • The Library is not responsible for personal items that are lost, stolen, or damaged on Library premises.
  • Visitors are not permitted to bring any large bags, bags with wheels, or shopping carts into the Library.
  • Library security and staff can inspect any of your property when you come in or leave.
  • You must wear clothing and shoes in the Library, and your body odor must not be so offensive that it disturbs others.
  • Some items in the Library cannot be copied because of copyright laws, poor condition, or donor restrictions.
  • The Library is not responsible for children who are left unattended on Library premises; please see the Library’s “Unattended Children Policy.”
  • Library staff and security officers can ask visitors to show their Library cards or other ID at any time.
  • Large groups that want to visit the Library have to get permission before they visit.
  • Photography and recording are not allowed on Library premises without prior permission.
  • Certain reading rooms and other Library spaces have additional restrictions.

Visitors with disabilities may ask Library staff for reasonable accommodations.

Visitors who do not follow the Library’s General Rules and Regulations can be asked to leave and can lose their Library privileges. They can also be arrested or be subject to other legal action.

Last Revised 6/4/2010

Unattended Children Policy

The New York Public Library is dedicated to providing a welcoming environment that encourages children to visit the Library, use Library collections and services, and attend Library programs. Library staff are available to assist and support children with their use of Library resources. However, the Library is not responsible for children who are left unattended on Library premises. Unattended children are children of any age who are apparently unaccompanied by a parent, guardian, and/or responsible caregiver in the Library.

Parents, guardians and/or caregivers are solely responsible for the safety and behavior of their children. They are advised that children, like all Library users, are expected to comply with the Library’s “General Rules and Regulations” and a child who violates those rules may be asked to leave Library premises. Parents, guardians and/or caregivers must inform themselves as to scheduled Library closing times and be aware that a Library facility sometimes may have to close unexpectedly due to emergencies or safety issues. 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.

Library staff may call the police or other appropriate City agency if a child is left unattended when a Library facility closes or if a child otherwise appears to be at risk.

Last Revised 11/25/2008

Regulations for Attendance at Library Public Programs

As part of its mission to assure open access to information and the exchange of ideas, The New York Public Library, a non-governmental tax-exempt organization, (the “Library”) sponsors a robust series of public programs in its various circulating and research library venues. The objective of these programs is to offer to the public an opportunity to hear and experience presentations and discussions of timely and interesting topics with participants who represent a broad range of viewpoints. All members of the public are welcome to attend the Library’s public programs, subject to any occupancy limits and, where applicable, ticketing requirements. In order to maintain an environment conducive to the purpose of the programs, all attendees must comply with the following regulations:

  • All Library users and program attendees must comply with the Library’s General Rules and Regulations as well as rules applicable to a particular venue (e.g., bag check requirements) or to a particular program (e.g., prohibitions on photography or recording).
  • Persons shall not be allowed to enter meeting rooms once the legal occupancy limit has been reached.
  • For pre-ticketed events, attendees will only be admitted upon the presentation of a valid ticket.
  • The Library does not permit:
    • distribution of pamphlets or fliers within Library premises unless such materials have been approved in advance by the Library;
    • carrying or displaying signs, posters or placards within Library premises;
    • actions that will block access or egress to Library premises or create safety hazards;
    • actions that would disrupt a program or obscure a presenter from the audience’s view or prevent the audience from hearing the presenter;
    • any use of force or violence damaging to property or threatening or intimidating to any person or group.
  • 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 regulations 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 regulations from time to time.

Last Revised 7/28/2010