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Behavior Policy

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Public libraries are community resources that belong to all the people. Chatham County Public Libraries are dedicated to providing a peaceful, safe, and pleasant atmosphere in which all who enter may browse, study, read, or conduct research.

As much as possible, the library is to be considered a quiet place in which patrons may expect to pursue their interests without harassment or undue disturbance. Acceptable behavior includes the activities mentioned above, as well as conversations necessary to conduct library programs or business and quiet social conversation.

It is not acceptable to:

• harass, intimidate, threaten, solicit, panhandle, or in any way interfere with other patrons’ use of the library or staff performance of their jobs. This also includes stalking or prolonged staring at staff members or other patrons.
• bring weapons into the library (except for law enforcement personnel)
• consume, possess, sell, or be under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs, or controlled substances to the degree that it is apparent to patrons and/or staff
• trespass in staff or other non-public areas of the library, or be in the library before or after normal library hours without the permission and/or presence of a library staff member.
• deface or destroy library property, including materials, art work, and furnishings
• engage in obscene, indecent, or sexual activity in the library
• eat any food or drink any beverage (other than water in a closed container) in the library, which includes the children’s area and story room. At Chatham Community Library, food and beverages (other than water in a closed container) are not permitted in the individual or double study rooms. Food and beverages are permitted at designated functions in the large meeting rooms at the Goldston and Chatham Community Libraries.
• smoke (including the use of e-cigarettes): note that Chatham County has a smoke-free policy for its buildings, and that Central Carolina Community College is a tobacco-free campus. For branches other than the Chatham Community Library, smoking is not allowed within 50 feet of the entrance of the building.
• use cell phones in the main part of the library, the computer lab, the children’s area, study rooms, or the meeting rooms. Patrons should set their cell phones on “vibrate” before entering the library and should go to the lobby or outside to take any incoming calls.
• use the library as a place to sleep or bathe
• use the library as a place to conduct business or sales
• enter the library without wearing shoes or a shirt

Children in the Library

Chatham County Public Libraries welcome children and families. Children are entitled to the same benefits as adult patrons, including a peaceful and pleasant atmosphere. Children’s safety is a priority, and because the library is a public building open to all, parents are reminded that children under 11 years of age must not be left unattended, even if the parent or caregiver is in the same building. Minors under the age of 16 may not be charged with supervising younger children.

We recognize that noise is an inevitable byproduct of learning and growing; however, parents are reminded that the library is primarily a quiet place of study. We ask that parents and caregivers teach children:

• respect for library materials, which includes gentle handling and placing on carts or tables following their use
• that we use quiet, “indoor voices” in the main part of the library, outside of the story room
• that it is not appropriate to run in the library or climb, jump on, or throw library materials, furnishings, or art work, including those located in the children’s area
• that we do not eat or drink (other than water in closed containers) in any part of the library except the meeting room or in story time programs
• that shoes must be worn at all times unless they are being removed as part of a children’s program in the story room

Adults in the Children’s Area

The children’s areas of Chatham County Public Libraries are set aside for the use of children and their parents or caregivers. Adults not accompanied by children may enter the children’s areas for the purpose of selecting materials or consulting children’s area staff, but are expected not to linger there.

In the Chatham Community Library, the restroom located in the children’s area is designated as a Family/All Gender Restroom. Additional public restrooms are available in the entrance area.

Unattended Minors

Children older than 11 who are unaccompanied by parents or caregivers are expected to observe all library policies and to be actively engaged in study, library programs, or use of library materials.  

In the event that an unaccompanied minor has misbehaved to the point of being asked to leave, staff will notify the branch manager, who will call the child’s parent(s) and inform them that the child will have to be picked up immediately. 

Picking up Minors

Unaccompanied minors under the age of 16 must be picked up promptly by the time the library closes. Minors will not be permitted to walk home if parents or caregivers do not arrive when the library closes, nor may library staff provide rides. A staff member (at Chatham Community Library, two staff members) will remain with the child. If a parent or caregiver has not come for a minor by 10 minutes past the time the library closes, library staff will call the sheriff or police department to pick up the child. The parents or caregivers will receive a warning from the library’s branch manager. If there is a second occurrence within a year, the family will not be permitted to use the library for a period of one month and their library account will be blocked. In extreme cases, in which families repeatedly do not pick up minors on time, the social services department may be contacted and the family banned from using the library at the discretion of the library branch manager.

Zero Tolerance Policy

There is a zero tolerance policy for sexual harassment, stalking, unwanted/inappropriate physical contact, or prolonged staring at patrons or staff; sexual activity; threats (physical or verbal) or violence of any kind; theft; vandalism; panhandling; or the possession, use, or sale of illegal drugs or controlled substances. Patrons who engage in any of these behaviors will be asked to leave the library and grounds immediately. If a patron refuses to leave when asked to do so, the staff member will ask another staff member or supervisor to call the police. Patrons may be banned from being on the grounds of the library for any of the offenses above and their library accounts will be blocked; after three months, patrons may call the branch manager to request that an application to return to the library be mailed or e-mailed to them. The branch manager should include a copy of the library behavior policy with the application. All such applications must be in writing (not in person).

The decision to revoke the block and/or ban is at the discretion of the branch manager.

Revised 12-2015