Library Rules & Policies

Notice to All Users of Houston Public Library

The Houston Public Library is a place for reading, studying, and writing; participating in programs, activities and meetings; and, for using or borrowing Library materials. We ask for your cooperation in maintaining an environment in which all Library customers can use and enjoy the Library’s resources, services, and facilities. These rules are posted for the comfort and protection of all who use the Library. These rules will be firmly enforced by Library staff and security. All Library users must comply with the rules of conduct listed below:

Adults in Youth Designated Areas:

Adults may use the children’s or teen area of the library only when accompanied by a child or teen using those areas. Unaccompanied adults who are retrieving materials for research or check out may not remain in the teen or children’s areas to review materials, but instead should take them to other areas of the library to review. 

  • The Library reserves the right to determine who can be in and remain in the children’s and teen areas of the Library and unaccompanied adults may be asked by staff to use the facilities, services, equipment in other areas of the library.
  • Central Library: The public restrooms on the 4th floor of the Jesse H. Jones Building may be restricted for use by only the children and teens and their accompanying parent, guardian, or caregiver. Adults without children will be directed to use other public restrooms in the building. The public restrooms may be open to customers using the Program Place meeting room or the general public for extenuating circumstances that may arise such as maintenance, at the discretion of the director or designee.

Adults Attending Youth Programs:

All programs are free and open to the public. While some programs are open to all ages, others are appropriate for specific ages. Audience size and age limits are set due to a variety of reasons including, but not limited to, program content, developmental needs, maturity level, mode of presentation, performer stipulation, safety or room capacity. To provide an optimal experience for attendees, events may require pre-registration or tickets. A parent or caregiver is required to remain with a child or children under 7 during any program. Adults not accompanied by a child or teen are not allowed in youth programs. Adults who are required to observe youth programs as part of their degree’s educational requirements or for other learning and development opportunities may be allowed, at the discretion of the director or designee, to attend after furnishing the applicable credentials and/or supporting documentation and providing advance notification to the library.

The following behaviors and activities are prohibited on all Library premises and mobile units:

1.    Acts that are subject to prosecution under criminal or civil codes of law.
2.    Physical abuse, assault, public lewdness, indecent exposure or disorderly conduct.
3.    Use of obscene, abusive, insulting or threatening language.
4.    Possessing or being under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs.
5.    Damaging or destroying Library property.
6.    Unlawfully carrying a weapon.
7.    Intimidating, stalking, harassing, speaking loudly, or other behavior that interferes with or impedes the peaceful use and enjoyment of Library premises, services, or programs.
8.    Tampering with security or safety devices.
9.    Smoking of any type.
10.  Use of tobacco products of any type.
11.  Soliciting, petitioning, or distributing or posting material/literature without approval.
12.  Spreading out personal belongings unrelated to the use of Library services.
13.  Leaving bags of any type unattended.
14.  Not wearing shoes or a shirt, or wearing clothing that exposes underwear or private body parts.
15.  Viewing material deemed to be obscene, child pornography, or harmful to minors, as those terms are defined in the Children’s Internet Protection Act and the Texas Penal Code.
16.  Staring, stalking, harassment, or other behavior that reasonably can be expected to disturb others.  This includes photography without Library approval.

The following behaviors, activities and/or items are prohibited in all Library buildings:

1.    Eating or drinking (except in covered containers), except in designated areas.
2.    Bringing in packaged or unpackaged food, except into designated areas.
3.    Bringing in any animals, except animals assisting persons with disabilities.
4.    Sleeping or putting your head on a table (except for infants), and putting your feet or legs on furniture.
5.    Taking Library materials into restrooms.
6.    Using Library restrooms for changing clothes, shaving, bathing or any purpose other than for which restrooms are intended.
7.    Offensive bodily hygiene that constitutes a nuisance to others.
8.    Bedrolls, blankets, frame backpacks, suitcases, or bags measuring more than three feet in length or height. A maximum of two bags of any type will be allowed, and no items may be left unattended or allowed to impede others.
9.    Items that could potentially be used as weapons, including but not limited to sporting equipment such as baseball bats, skateboards, etc.

Parents/guardians/caregivers are responsible for monitoring the activities and for regulating the behavior of their children while in the Library. Children under the age of seven may not be left unattended at any time. Children between the ages of seven and fourteen should not be left unattended for more than one hour unless engaged in an HPL program, or at closing time.

All Library materials must be properly checked out. If Library staff/security has reasonable individualized suspicion that a Library customer is attempting to exit the Library with Library materials that have not been checked out, the customer may be questioned and may be asked to open any item of sufficient size to contain Library materials for inspection. Theft of Library materials is a serious offense and may result in permanent exclusion from all Library facilities, resources and services, and/or arrest.

Anyone known to have violated any of the above rules may be asked to leave the Library as a matter of administrative policy or arrested, as permitted by law. Severe offenses may result in exclusion from all Library facilities, resources and services.

Please immediately inform Library and/or security staff if you witness a violation of these rules of conduct.

Violation of criminal trespass laws or of these rules and regulations may result in prosecution. These rules and regulations have been promulgated under the authority of Section 24-5 and Article IX, Chapter 21 of the Code of  Ordinances,  City  of  Houston,  Texas. See also Texas Penal Code §30.05  (relating  to  criminal  trespass) and §31.03 (regarding theft).