Program Development Policy

Purpose of the Policy

This Program Development Policy upholds the mission and goals of the Watertown Free Public Library by setting guidelines for the planning and operation of Library programs and events. The policy applies to programing and events provided by the library and its staff. It does not apply to programs provided by non-library groups using the library’s meeting rooms. 

Responsibility for Program Development

Responsibility for program development rests with the Library Director, who operates within the framework of policies determined by the Library Board of Trustees. Program planning and facilitating is delegated to staff members based on their job responsibilities and areas of expertise. Programming librarians are guided by this policy and utilize professional skills, collections, equipment, facilities, and feedback from the community in planning and delivering library programs.

Selection Guidelines and Objectives

The Watertown Free Public Library defines a program as an activity or event in a group setting, developed to meet the educational, social, recreational, cultural, or informational needs of an anticipated audience in the community. Programs can be a single event, a short series, or continuously recurring.

Programs may include, but will not be limited to: lectures, forums, visual and performance art, interactive classes or workshops, continuing education, fairs, discussion groups, technology programs, story times, class visits, library tours, community outreach, exhibits, and presentations for social, cultural, educational, or recreational purposes.


When making decisions regarding program content, presenters, and related resources library staff will consider the following:

  • Relevance to the Library’s mission and strategic plan 
  • Community needs and interests, including feedback and suggestions from Watertown residents 
  • Potential to promote, supplement, and encourage the use of library collections & resources
  • Presentation quality as determined by presenter’s background, record of presentation, and qualifications in content area
  • Historical, cultural, or educational significance
  • Space required, and the availability of that space
  • Budget
  • Staffing
  • Balance of current programs being offered at the Library 
  • Connection to other community programs, exhibitions, or events
  • Safety and security of patrons and staff
  • National and local observances, commemorative months, and initiatives (i.e., National Library Week, Women’s History Month, Veterans’ Day, etc.)

Library programs may take place at the Library, Hatch Makerspace, the Bookmobile, offsite locations, and online; and may be delivered by library staff or library partners. Programs may be live-streamed or recorded for later playback, either in person or via web-enabled technologies.


Anyone interested in presenting a program may submit a proposal that will be reviewed by Library staff using this policy as a guideline. The Library reserves the right to decline a program for a variety of reasons including, but not limited to, staffing, budgetary constraints, space, or scheduling.

A partnership is a relationship between Watertown Free Public Library and an institution, non-profit organization, community group, or individual. These relationships involve an effort to provide and/or promote activities and services for the public. Partnerships can range from a one-time collaboration to a long-term arrangement. The Library welcomes partnerships that promote civic engagement and support its mission and strategic goals and may choose to co-host programs with these partners. Partners must comply with all library policies. Partners that participate in co-hosting a program receive acknowledgement in marketing and PR materials.

Library sponsorship of a program does not constitute an endorsement of the content of the program, or the views expressed by presenters or participants. Program topics, presenters, and resources are not excluded because of possible controversy.

Commercial Use

Authors or booksellers may sell books as part of a library program. Musicians playing in library sponsored concerts may sell cds. Programs sponsored by the Library Building Committee may include the sale of merchandise as a fundraiser to benefit the library. Sale of any other products at library programs is not permitted unless authorized by the Library Director or designee. Programs are not used for commercial purposes or for the solicitation of business. However, the presenter may leave business cards for participants to pick up after the program for anyone interested in purchasing items or services from the presenter.

Intellectual Freedom

The Watertown Free Public Library offers a wide variety of programs to support its mission of providing free recreation, entertainment, and enrichment. The Library respects the freedom of information of its users and adheres to the principles expressed in the American Library Association's Library Bill of Rights and Freedom to Read and Freedom to View statements (see Appendices A, B, C). The Library's goal is to offer a diverse set of ideas and opinions, including those which may be unorthodox or controversial. The Library opposes any attempts by individuals or groups to censor programs it offers.

Parents and guardians are responsible for overseeing their minor children’s use of the Library’s collections, services, and programs. The Watertown Free Public Library does not stand in place of a parent and is not charged with a parent's rights, duties, and responsibilities.

Open Access

All library-initiated programs are open to the public, but some meetings and programs may be designed with specific audiences in mind, such as programs intended for children and teens that are geared to their interests and needs. Adults who wish to attend a program specifically designed for children must be accompanied by a child. Tween and teen programs are limited to tweens and teens only, except when they require an adult assistant or companion. Programs targeted toward specific audiences are to be publicized as such.

Every attempt will be made to accommodate all who wish to attend a program. However, when safety, cost, or the success of a program requires it, attendance may be limited. Admittance will be determined on a first come, first served basis, either through advance registration, or at the door. The Library reserves the right to deny attendance to anyone becoming disruptive to audience members or the program facilitator, and to anyone in violation of the Library’s Code of Conduct Policy. 


Programs may be cancelled for several reasons, including severe weather, absence of the presenter, or low registration. Cancelled programs are not automatically rescheduled. When possible, advanced notification of program cancellations will be made on the Library’s online calendar of events and by other appropriate communication channels.

Process for Reconsideration

The Watertown Free Public Library adheres to and supports the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, the Freedom to Read Statement, and the Freedom to View (Appendices B, C, D) which state that the choice of library materials for personal use is purely an individual matter. An individual or group cannot restrict the freedom of other persons to read, access, or use library materials.

Concerns about programs currently offered at the Library may be expressed by filling out a Request for Reconsideration form (Appendix D). Forms may be submitted in writing to the attention of the Library Director either in person, or c/o Watertown Free Public Library, 123 Main St, Watertown, MA 02472. Patrons submitting a Request for Reconsideration will be given copies of the this program development policy; the ALA Library Bill of Rights, the ALA Freedom to Read Statement, and the ALA Freedom to View Statement (Appendices A, B, C). Anonymous submissions will not be considered, nor will submissions from individuals or stakeholders not residing or located in Watertown, MA. During the reconsideration process, the material or program will remain available in the Library.

A request for reconsideration will be reviewed by the Library Director or their designee, who will respond in writing to the patron initiating the request. The patron may choose to appeal the decision to the Board of Trustees. The decision of the Board of Trustees will be final.


  1. American Library Association Library Bill of Rights
  2. Freedom to Read Statement
  3. Freedom to View
  4. Reconsideration Form


Approved by Library Board of Trustees February 7, 2023