Code of Conduct

Watertown Free Public Library provides a safe and comfortable environment conducive to the use and enjoyment of library materials, services, and facilities. The Library¹ is intended for the use of all members of the public. Patrons are expected to observe the rights of other patrons and staff members and to use the Library for its intended purposes.


Misconduct will not be allowed on any library property or at off-site library events in which library staff participate.

Definition: Misconduct may include, but is not limited to: 

  • Interfering with the rights of individuals to use the library materials, services and premises;²
  • Interfering with the ability of staff to conduct library business; 
  • Threatening the secure and comfortable environment of the library or those using the library; 
  • Willfully annoying, harassing,³ or threatening another person;
  • Endangering or potentially endangering the safety or health of others;
  • Engaging in disorderly, loud, or boisterous behavior in a manner not in keeping with the atmosphere of a library;
  • Using abusive or profane language;
  • Theft, vandalism, or the deliberate destruction of materials, property, or the personal property of patrons or staff members;
  • Maliciously accessing, altering, deleting, damaging, or destroying any computers, peripherals, computer system, network, computer program or data;
  • Impeding access to library resources, premises, or an area of the premises;
  • Entering the non-public or locked areas, unless accompanied by a staff member or through prior authorization from a staff member;
  • Using personal electronic devices without earphones or with earphones at an unreasonable volume;
  • Using cell phones at a volume that is disruptive to others;
  • Distributing or posting material without staff approval;
  • Soliciting of sales or selling to library patrons except at library-sponsored events;
  • Using tobacco or nicotine delivery products on library property or within 25 feet of the premises
  • Bringing animals into the library, except those trained to assist individuals with disabilities or for library-sponsored events involving animals;
  • Eating food in the library with the exception of the café or approved meeting room events;
  • Bringing uncovered beverages into the library;
  • Using alcohol or recreational drugs on library property;
  • Using restroom facilities for activities other than their intended purpose;
  • Being without a shirt and/or shoes; 
  • Conduct that otherwise violates municipal, state, or federal law or regulations.


Enforcement of these rules may take the form of any of the following actions, depending upon the severity of the misconduct, which will be determined by the staff on duty at the time.  Misconduct by persons under eighteen years of age is discussed by the remedies provided in the section regarding unattended children.

  • Patrons who engage in misconduct will be given one warning and asked to behave in an appropriate manner. Patrons who do not modify their behavior after one warning may be asked to leave for the rest of the day.
  • Patrons who engage in misconduct that in the judgment of a staff member is “extreme” may be ordered to leave the building immediately and may be requested not to return for the remainder of the day. “Extreme” misconduct may include activities that are harassing, threatening, dangerous or destructive to persons or property at the Library premises.
  • If necessary, a staff member may call the police for assistance. 
  • Patrons who engage in misconduct may receive, by certified or registered mail or hand delivery, written notice from the Director of suspension or revocation of Library privileges, including prohibition against entering the Library or attending off-site library events for a period of one week to three (3) years, depending on the nature of the misconduct, the extent of damage or disruption caused by policy infractions, and other relevant circumstances. Patrons may request a hearing before the Board of Library Trustees to appeal the notice within fourteen (14) days of such notice and the notice shall include language advising the patron of the right to appeal. In addition to the appeal process described above, patrons who are suspended or have their library privileges revoked for a period longer than one (1) year may, after the first year of their suspension, request a hearing before the Board of Library Trustees to reinstate their Library privileges, If the Board of Library Trustees is convinced that the patron has demonstrated their ability to comply with the Library Code of Conduct, the Board, in its sole discretion, may vote to reinstate the patron’s Library privileges. Language advising the patron of their right to request reinstatement of Library privileges after one (1) year of suspension shall be included in the notice from the Director of suspension.

Any unlawful actions committed in the library or on the library premises will immediately be reported to the Watertown Police Department.

[1] The term “library” includes the library property at 123 Main St, Hatch Makerspace, and the Bookmobile.

[2] The term “premises” includes: the interior of all Library buildings and the exterior on the lot on which Library buildings are situated.

[3] Harassment is defined as any action taken or situation created that would be reasonably deemed to produce psychological or physical discomfort, embarrassment, or humiliation for others. Harassment is characterized by requests for sexual contact, unwelcome physical advances, or conduct (verbal or physical) of a nature that is intimidating, demeaning, hostile, offensive, or potentially dangerous to self or others.

Approved by the Board of Library Trustees July 28, 2009; Amended November 2, 2017; Amended October 1, 2019; Amended October 6, 2021; Amended November 1, 2022.