Bucks County Free Library Meeting Room Policy Overview
Meeting Room Policy Goals
Ensure that the library's meeting room policy:
- Is clear and easily understood
- Supports library and Friends events as a top priority
- Empowers the library to serve as many different community groups as possible, with time slots fairly shared among the various groups competing for booking times
Meeting Room Policy Review Process
The Governance Committee of the Library Board and library staff spent more than a year examining, deliberating, and discussing:
- Federal laws and regulations applicable to library meeting rooms, with emphasis on the library's legal obligations and First Amendment issues
- Policies and fee schedules from other libraries, including local, state, and national
- Policies and fee schedules from a variety local government agencies, schools, and non-profits
- Detailed statistics on 2011 meeting room use
- Information provided by staff about challenges working with the current policy
Committee members thoroughly examined meeting room use in light of financial strains the library has been experiencing and continues to experience. This includes a loss of $2 million and more than 50 of the library's 200+ employees since the policy was last revised, with more budget cuts expected.
Meeting Room Policy Next Steps
- Review meeting room recommendations and policy with the full board, including public comment in regularly scheduled board meetings.
- Consider board and public comment; Draft final policy.
- Present final draft policy to the full board for approval by July 2012.
- Implement policy by September 2012.
Meeting Room Policy Recommendations
- Define which types of community groups are allowed to book meeting rooms. Establish the types of documentation groups must provide when booking.
- Eliminate the "free and open to the public" requirement for meetings; Do not permit meeting rooms to be booked for fundraisers, sales, or fee-based activities of any kind.
- Reduce the number of advance bookings allowed for each group from 12 to 8 per year so a greater number and variety of groups will be able to use meeting rooms.
- Reduce the amount of advance booking time from one year+ to 6 months so a greater number and variety of groups will be able to use meeting rooms.
- Make sure the library and community groups remain a priority by eliminating bookings to private businesses.
- Reserve Saturday bookings for library, Friends, and co-sponsored events.
- Establish fees that are comparable to those charged by similar non-profits to help the library recover some of the costs of offering private meeting rooms.
- Clearly designate which rooms and other library spaces are available for booking and which are not.
- Provide quiet study rooms for public use on a walk-in basis.
- Establish clear repercussions for misuse of meeting rooms.
- Provide designated areas in the main part of the library in each branch where smaller groups of 8-10 people can comfortably meet and talk on a walk-in first-come, first-served basis.
- Develop a process for staff to "bubble up" meeting room applications where events would benefit the community as partnership programs rather than privately booked time slots.
- Move to an online booking system so groups can easily book meeting rooms and the library can save staff time managing bookings.
E-mail your comments about the policy to the library board at email@example.com. Unsigned comments will not be reviewed or considered. Please include your name and address in your message. Also include the name of the organization you represent, if applicable. The library board will not respond individually to messages, but will consider all signed public comment.
Bucks County Free Library Meeting Room Policy Documents
Meeting Room Use Patterns
Comparable Meeting Room Fees
DRAFT Meeting Room Policy