Patron Behavior Policy


The Library is a public institution. Its patrons and staff expect a comfortable and safe atmosphere. To accommodate the broadest spectrum of individuals, it is necessary for the Library to establish reasonable rules to maintain an appropriate atmosphere.

Priorities for an Appropriate Atmosphere

The priorities for the maintenance of an appropriate atmosphere are staff and public safety, protection of the premises, and expected standards of behavior.

  1. Public Safety
    Any person who, or condition which, presents a threat to public or staff safety will be handled as an emergency situation and the provisions of the Winnetka-Northfield Public Library District Emergency Procedures will be followed.
  2. Protection of the Premises
    Any willful act by a person which causes harm or damage to the Library premises, building, furniture, equipment, or materials is unlawful. All persons engaging in such acts shall be subject to the penalties of applicable Federal, State, local statutes and ordinances, and Library policy and ordinances.
  3. Expected Standards of Behavior
    Expected standards of behavior are defined as those which respect the rights of others, do not impede the work of patrons or staff, and which show care for Library property. No behavior is appropriate to the Library if it willfully disregards the rights of others, unnecessarily and unreasonably interferes with or distracts others, jeopardizes staff or public safety, or shows disregard for Library property.
  4. Children
    The Library Board asserts that it is the responsibility of the parent or responsible caregiver to insure the appropriate behavior of their children in the library. The Library staff is not responsible for the supervision of children left unattended by their parent or responsible caregiver.

For the safety of all children who visit the library, children eight (8) years of age and younger must be accompanied and directly supervised by a parent or responsible caregiver who assumes full accountability for the children’s safety and behavior in the Library. “Directly supervised” means the child and the parent or caregiver must be able to observe one another at all times. The assigned caregiver must be a responsible person age fourteen (14) or older, and must carry emergency contact information.

Those who bring children eight (8) years of age and younger to Library programs must remain in the building for the entire program. The Library reserves the right to require that a parent or caregiver attend a program with a child.

The Unattended Child Policy will be followed when a child age eight (8) years of age and younger is left unattended on Library property.

If a child age eight (8) years of age and younger is being disruptive, the following steps will be taken:

  1. The child will be given a warning that the behavior is unacceptable and must stop immediately.
  2. A Library staff member will address the issue with the parent or caregiver.
  3. If the disruption continues, the staff member may ask the parent or caregiver to leave with the child.

Children age nine (9) through fourteen (14) are welcome to use the Library unattended as long as they are mature enough to follow Library rules and observe proper conduct. Any child who is at the Library without supervision must be able to contact a responsible person in case of emergency or for transportation needs.

If a child age nine (9) through fourteen (14) is being disruptive, the following steps will be taken:

  1. The child will be given a warning that the behavior is unacceptable and must stop immediately.
  2. If the child does not correct the undesirable behavior, he/she will be asked to leave the Library. When a child age nine (9) years of age or older is asked to leave the Library, a staff member will call the parent or caregiver to pick up the child.
  3. A Juvenile Officer of the Winnetka or Northfield Police Department will be called to take responsibility for the child if the following occurs:
    • If a parent or caregiver cannot be reached, or is unresponsive to the Library’s request to pick up the child.
    • When a parent or caregiver has been contacted and the child is not picked up within twenty (20) minutes.

If a child of any age is left unattended at the time the Library closes and attempts to reach a parent or guardian have failed, two Library staff members will wait with the child for 20 minutes. If a parent or caregiver has not arrived for the child, the Winnetka or Northfield Police Department will be called to take responsibility for the child.

The Library cannot be responsible for any consequences of parents or caregivers forfeiting their responsibilities. Library staff does not monitor the arrival or departure of any child from a program or the building.

Rules of Behavior

Any conduct that disturbs library users or staff, or hinders the use of the facilities or materials is prohibited. Such conduct might include but is not limited to:

  • Committing or attempting to commit any activity in violation of Federal, State, local statute or ordinance, or other applicable law, or Library policy or ordinance.
  • Bringing weapons, simulated or real, into the Library or onto Library property.
  • Harassing or threatening patrons or Library staff in a physical, sexual, or verbal manner, including, but not limited to, purposeful attempts to intimidate, annoy, or provoke others by following them, prolonged staring, or engaging in behavior that Library staff believes is meant to mock, taunt, bully, tease or bait, or behavior which can reasonably be expected to disturb other persons.
  • Using audible devices without headphones or with headphones set at a volume that disturbs others. Using cell phones, pagers, and other communication devices in a manner that disturbs others. Cell phone and pager audible ringers must be turned off. Use of cell phones is restricted to the vestibules or outside the Library.
  • Patrons are not permitted to enter the building without a shirt or other covering of their upper bodies. Footwear must be worn at all times. Patrons whose bodily hygiene is offensive so as to constitute a nuisance to other persons shall be required to leave the building.
  • Being present in Library offices, lounges, storage areas, or other non-public areas while unaccompanied by a Library staff member or without prior agreement with Library management.
  • Using matches, lighters, or other means of ignition, or illegal substances on Library premises. Smoking, including the use of electronic cigarettes or other smoking-simulated devices, is not permitted in the building or within 15 feet of the building entrances. Consumption of alcohol is prohibited unless part of an approved library event.
  • Eating in the building, unless the food is served as part of a Library program or approved meeting, and/or eaten in a designated eating area. Any beverage consumed outside of these programs or meetings must be in a lidded or spill-proof container.
  • Excessive, prolonged, or overly-loud conversation for purely social purposes is not allowed. It is expected that normal and reasonable conversation among patrons and staff will occur.
  • Conducting for-profit business between two or more persons (including, but not limited to, sales, interviews, and tutoring) is prohibited on Library property.
  • Solicitation of any type is prohibited on Library property. Public distribution or posting of leaflets/flyers or the circulation of petitions for any purpose or cause on Library property is prohibited. Unauthorized posting of notices, conducting surveys, campaigning, and circulating petitions is prohibited on Library property. Unauthorized selling of goods or services is prohibited on Library property.
  • Bringing any animal into the building except an animal needed and trained to assist a disabled or visually impaired person or an animal that is part of an authorized Library program or function. Animals left outside the Library may not impede safe access to the building.
  • Sleeping in a manner that disturbs or interferes with the use of the Library by others.
  • Damaging, defacing, or stealing Library property.
  • Utilizing the parking lot for purposes unrelated to visiting the Library and using its services is prohibited. Village of Winnetka Ordinance Section 10.24.090 (A).
    Vehicles parked in violation of this rule may be towed at the owner’s expense.
  • Using furniture, doors, elevators, floors, or stairways in an inappropriate or unsafe manner.
  • Misuse of restrooms. Using bathroom facilities for bathing, shaving, or laundry.
  • Violating the Library’s Technology Use Policy.

The Library reserves the right to limit the number of people who may sit together. The Library reserves the right to limit the size and number of items brought into the Library. The Library reserves the right to inspect all packages, bags, backpacks, purses, briefcases, etc.

Library staff cannot be responsible for the safekeeping of any person’s belongings. The Library is not responsible for personal items that are lost, stolen, or damaged on Library property.

Enforcement of Behavior Policies

  • Staff is authorized to use all necessary and reasonable measures to enforce these policies.
  • Any patron or group of patrons who exhibit or participate in prohibited behavior or disregard Library rules and policies after having been warned by staff may be asked to leave the Library and not return for the remainder of the day.
  • The Library Director is authorized to limit or suspend Library privileges (all or in part, as determined by the Library Director) of anyone whose unacceptable behavior is chronic or dangerous or severely disruptive. Parents of minor children will be notified of this action. A person or a group whose Library privileges are denied or limited may appeal the decision to the Board of Trustees by requesting a hearing. Any such request for a hearing must be submitted in writing, and a hearing will be held at the next regularly scheduled Board meeting. The decision of the Library Board is final.
  • Any patron or group of patrons who do not leave the Library after having been asked by staff to leave will be considered trespassers.
  • Police may be called to:
    • Remove trespassers from the Library
    • Provide assistance to Library staff in dealing with persons who violate Library policies, rules, or regulations

Approved: January 20, 2003
Revised: December 8, 2003
Revised: April 21, 2014