Library Rules and Policies
HCPL provides computers for public use for access to the library catalog, a variety of software programs, and the Internet. At this time, the Library does not provide electronic mail accounts to the public.
- Users may bring their own USB flash drives to use at computer workstations.
- Users may print documents to library printers: the cost is 10¢ per page, 50¢ for color (where available).
- There is a maximum limit of 1 hour of computer time per session when others are waiting.
- Users may not make any attempt to damage computer equipment or software, alter software configurations, or install software.
- Users may not disconnect or render Library computers inoperable by disconnecting electrical connections, network connections, or any accessory plugged into the computer.
- Users may not plug personal non-County equipment into the Library’s computer network.
- Users may save their files to USB memory sticks, provided no software must be installed on Library computers to enable the USB storage device.
- Library workstations may not be used in any activity which is deliberately and maliciously offensive or libelous.
- Library workstations may not be used for any illegal or criminal purpose including violation of copyright laws.
Users should be aware that software or files downloaded from the Internet may contain a virus. The Library is not responsible for damage to a customer's disk or personal computer, or for any loss of data, damage or liability that may occur from customer use of the Library's computers.
Violations may result in loss of access. Unlawful activities will be dealt with in an appropriate manner.
- A limited number of laptop computers are available for use.
- All laptops have wireless networking and may be used anywhere in the building, all Internet access on the WIFI network is filtered.
- Users may print documents to library printers from library laptop computers: the cost is 10¢ per page, 50¢ for color (where available).
What’s needed to borrow a laptop for use in the library
- A valid library card on file with Harris County . (The card must be present and belong to the customer presenting it.)
- 12 Years of age or older.
- In good standing, borrowing privileges will be suspended if $25 or more in fines or fees are unpaid.
- Only one laptop per person may be checked out.
- The loan period for using laptops in the library is 2 hours.
- Laptops must be returned 15 minutes before closing.
- Renewals are allowed if no other customer is waiting for a laptop.
- Failure to return the laptop on time will result in an hourly fine.
- Staff will go over the checklist with the user and give the user a receipt upon return.
- Please return laptops to a staff member at the desk from which they were borrowed.
Fines and Fees
- The borrower agrees to return the laptop equipment in the same order and condition as when
- received and if such equipment is damaged or lost while on loan, agrees to reimburse the
- library for the cost of the laptop.
- Fines for in-branch use laptops are $2.00 per hour.
- Removal of an HCPL laptop from the lending branch will result in a replacement charge for the laptop. Law enforcement officers will be notified if a laptop is removed from the library.
- Laptops should not be left unattended. Leaving laptops unattended will result in loss of laptop checkout privileges.
- Users are responsible for the laptop while it is checked out. The Library is not responsible for loss while checked out to the user.
- Do not tamper with the security features of the laptop. Doing so will result in suspension of borrowing privileges and fines.
- Personal software may not be loaded onto the laptop. No user files will be retained on the hard disk.
Wireless connectivity is available at all branch libraries. Users with a notebook or laptop PC equipped with a wireless network card conforming to the 802.11b/g standard are permitted to bring their own computers for access to the Internet.
- Wireless users may receive email through their regular email programs but must use web-based email such as Yahoo or Hotmail in order to send email.
- All Internet access on the library WIFI network is filtered.
- Printing is not available for computers not owned by Harris County Public Library.
The mission of the Harris County Public Library System is to provide information and resources to enrich lives and strengthen communities through innovative services within and beyond our walls. Throughout its history, the Library has made information available in a variety of formats. The Library's computer system provides the opportunity to integrate electronic resources from the Internet linked information networks from around the world -- with the Library's other resources, enhancing the Library's existing collection size and depth.
The Library exercises discretion in the selection of materials for inclusion in its collection, including materials it makes available on the Internet. To help guide users to the best electronic content, the Library has created web pages designed for the general population, children, and teens. The Library’s staff is also available for assistance in using online resources.
The Internet, as an information source, enables the Library to provide information beyond the confines of its own collection. It allows access to ideas, information and commentary from around the world. However, some information content on the Internet may be incorrect, out-of-date, or objectionable to some individuals. The library follows its materials selection guidelines in choosing the links included in library-sponsored websites. Beyond these pages and their primary links, the Library cannot be responsible for Internet content.
Harris County Public Library System does not monitor and cannot control material which may be accessible from other Internet resources. However, the Library’s staff is available to provide guidance and assistance in using all online resources.
The Library affirms the right and responsibility of parents to determine and monitor their children's use of Library materials and resources. The Library recognizes that restriction of a child's access to the Internet is the responsibility of the parent or guardian.
The library's central server, through which access to the Internet is provided, includes filtering software which permits system administrators to block network traffic to certain types of Internet sites. In compliance with the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) legislation, access to sites containing adult entertainment, child pornography and other obscene material, or which promote illegal activities are blocked on all library computers. However, no filtering system is foolproof. The Library cannot guarantee that access to sites containing adult entertainment, pornography or which promote illegal activities will be blocked. Neither can the Library guarantee that there will not be occasions when the filtering software may “overblock” sites which have legitimate informational or research value.
In compliance with the June, 2003 CIPA ruling (02-361) by the Supreme Court, unfiltered access to the Internet is made available to adults requesting such access on a per session basis. Unfiltered access is not available for anyone under the age of 18
The policies and procedures for the use of the meeting rooms in the Harris County Public Libraries are established herein. The Responsibility for implementing this policy and for scheduling the use of the meeting room rests with the individual librarian in charge of the building. The Library Director retains final authority for implementing these policies. Book a Meeting or Study Room online.
**Please note, the meeting room policy and booking procedure is different at Katy Branch Library. It is included following HCPL policy.**
- Purpose: The meeting rooms of the Harris County Public Libraries may be used by the general public during the regular hours that the library is open. The meeting rooms may be reserved for meetings, programs, seminars, and exhibits
- All meetings must be open to the public.
- Prohibited Activities: Library meeting rooms and event spaces may not be used for any activity that is incompatible with the library environment or interferes with its operations. The solicitation or sales of products or services, charging admission or registration fees, and/or soliciting donations other than in conjunction with a program or event sponsored or hosted by the Friends of the Library organization are prohibited. Examples of other prohibited activities include but are not limited to:
- • Weddings
- • Anniversary celebrations
- • Funerals
- • Birthday parties
- • Reunions
- • Dances
- • Private parties
- • Trade shows
- • Conventions
- • Pageants
- Space Priority
- a. Library-related functions will be given first priority.
- b. Other requests will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis. Any previous approvals may be canceled at any time if the room is needed on an emergency basis for official governmental business or the reservation conflicts with library programming. The reservation shall be canceled and may be rescheduled at the group's request.
- a. There is no charge for the use of the library meeting rooms.
- b. Requests for the use of the meeting room may be made in person or online by completing the online Meeting Room Application? This form must be submitted online. Requests for renewals may be submitted in person or online. As with the original request, an application form must be completed and approved before the requested meeting date.
- c. Advance registration requests can be submitted no more than twelve weeks (3 months) in advance.
- d. To ensure equitable use of library facilities, the library reserves the right to limit usage no more than three (3) meetings per month.
- e. Reservation requests are moderated. You will be contacted within 2 business days of your request. Your request is not confirmed until you hear from the library.
- f. The length of time needed for the meeting room should include time for setting up the meeting room and putting it back in order at the end of the meeting.
- g. The designated contact person for the meeting must be present throughout the meeting.
- h. The individual making the reservation, as well as the membership of the group as a whole, will be held responsible for any and all damage that may occur as a result of the use of the facilities. Permission to use the library meeting rooms may be withheld from groups whose members or invitees damage the room, carpet, equipment, or furniture, or fail to comply with these rules and regulations. Individuals causing disturbances during meetings will be asked to leave.
- i. Reservations are not automatically renewable.
- j. Cancelations by either the group or the library must be made 24 hours in advance of the meeting date
- Usage Rules
- a. The individual making the reservation, as well as the membership of the group as a whole, agree to comply with all applicable federal, state, county, and city ordinances, rules and regulations now in force or which may hereafter be enacted or promulgated.
- b. Room set-up and take down are the group’s responsibility. No additional furniture or equipment other than that already available in the meeting rooms will be provided unless prior arrangements have been made.
- c. If the representative of the group who has reserved a room fails to check in with the library staff within thirty (30) minutes of the start of the reservation, the library may, at its discretion, cancel the reservation.
- d. The group shall leave the room in the same condition as it was found at the beginning of the meeting. The authorized representative of the group must report to library staff at the end of the meeting. Library staff will conduct a walk-through after each meeting to verify that the rooms, fixtures, and equipment are left in proper order.
- e. Meeting rooms are available during hours when the library is open. Groups must vacate the meeting room 15 minutes before closing time.
- f. Each group is responsible for ensuring that attendance at its meeting does not exceed the maximum occupancy for the meeting room as set by the Fire Marshall. In accordance with this, open aisles must be maintained to provide clear access in case of emergency.
- g. The library will not be responsible for lost or damaged materials used in exhibits or programs.
- h. Groups must obtain permission from the branch librarian before affixing articles to the walls in the meeting rooms.
- i. The individual making the reservation, as well as the membership of the group as a whole, agree to indemnify and hold the County harmless from and against any and all losses, expenses, demands, and claims made against the County arising in any manner from such group's use of the library facilities, whether such losses, expense, demand, or claim made against the County is caused by the County's negligence or not.
- j. Light refreshments may be served, but groups may not prepare food on library property. Groups are responsible for cleanup.
- a. Audio-Visual Equipment: Availability varies by location.
- b. Staff can offer limited assistance with equipment. It is the group’s responsibility to determine if equipment is compatible with the Library’s equipment.
c. Usage of Library computers must comply with the Library’s Computer Use Policy [http://www.hcpl.net/about/computer-use-policy] & the Acceptable Use Policy for the Internet [http://www.hcpl.net/about/acceptable-use-policy-internet].
The study rooms of the Harris County Public Libraries may be used by the general public during the regular hours that the library is open. The study rooms may be reserved by one or more people.
- a. Advance registration requests can be submitted no more than one (1) week in advance.
- b. Rooms may be reserved for two (2) hour blocks, with an option to extend if the room is not booked.
- c. To ensure equitable use of library facilities, the library reserves the right to limit usage no more than three (3) hours per day.
- d. Use must not exceed the maximum occupancy for the study room.
- e. If the representative of the group who has reserved a room fails to check in with the library staff within fifteen (15) minutes of the start of the reservation, the library may, at its discretion, cancel the reservation.
- Failure to follow this policy may result in the loss of future reservation and use privileges. In publicizing a meeting to be held in a library meeting room, the sponsoring group must be clearly identified. Groups must not imply library sponsorship of their program or organization, or include the library’s contact information in their publicity. Permission to use a public gathering place does not constitute an endorsement by the Library of the program or point of view expressed
Katy Branch Library Meeting Room Policy
Online Application for Use of the Katy Meeting Room | Print Application for the Use of the Katy Meeting Room - This form must be submitted to the branch library at least one week in advance of the date requested. It is strongly recommended that you contact the branch before submitting an application to determine availability. Submitting a form does not guarantee that dates are available.
The policies and procedures for the use of the meeting room in the Harris County Public Library Katy Branch is established herein. The responsibility for implementing this policy and for scheduling the use of the meeting room rests with the librarian in charge of the building. The Library Director retains final authority for implementing these policies.
- The meeting room, in the Katy Branch, of the Harris County Public Library, may be used by the general public. The meeting room may be reserved for meetings, programs, seminars, and exhibits.
Regulations for the Use of Meeting Rooms
- The meeting room may not be reserved for the solicitation or sale of any goods, services, etc. However, the meeting room may be reserved for book sales or other fund-raising events, the proceeds of which will go to the direct benefit of the library.
- No monies may be collected on the library premises with the exception of dues for Friends of the Library groups, book sales or other fund-raising events, the proceeds of which will go to the direct benefit of the library.
- All activities in the library's meeting room must be open to anyone who wants to attend.
- There is no charge for the use of the library meeting room.
- Use of the library's meeting room does not constitute endorsement by the County or the City of Katy or the library of points of view expressed by the group. No advertisement or announcement implying such endorsement will be permitted.
- Attendance at meetings must be limited to 50 seating capacity specified
- Chairs and tables available in the meeting room must be set up and put away by each group using the rooms. If custodial help is available, the custodian may be asked to set up the meeting room. No additional furniture or equipment other than that already available in the meeting rooms will be provided unless prior arrangements are made.
- The length of time needed for the meeting should include time for setting up the meeting room and putting it back in order at the end of the meeting. If the meeting extends beyond scheduled time, the librarian in charge will request that the meeting be adjourned.
- Open aisles must be maintained within the seating arrangement to provide clear access in case of emergency.
- Equipment, supplies, or personal belongings cannot be stored or left in the library before or after use, except items such as voting machines or materials to be used for on-going exhibits sponsored by the library.
- The library or the city will not be responsible for lost or damaged materials used in exhibits or programs.
- With the consent of the Branch Librarian, the staff lounge kitchen may be used for food or drink and should be left in the same order it was found. Without exception no food or drink will be allowed in the main part of the library. Alcoholic beverages are prohibited.
- Permission to affix anything in the walls in the main library or any of the room or offices must be obtained from the administrative offices of the City of Katy. The branch librarian enforces this rule.
- Smoking is not allowed in the library or on the property outside of the building.
- The individual making the reservation, as well as the membership of the group as a whole, will be held responsible for any and all damage that may occur as a result of the use of the facilities.
- Permission to use the library meeting room may be withheld from groups whose members or invitees damage the room, carpet, equipment, or furniture, or fail to comply with these rules and regulations. Individuals causing disturbances during meetings will be asked to leave and will hold the county and the City of Katy harmless.
- The individual making the reservation, as well as the membership of the group as a whole, agrees to comply with all applicable federal, state, county, and city ordinances, rules, and regulations now in force or which may hereafter be enacted or promulgated.
- The individual making the reservation, as well as the membership of the group as a whole, agree to indemnify and hold the County and the City of Katy harmless from and against any and all losses, expenses, demands, and claims made against the County and /or City of Katy arising in any manner from such group's use of the library facilities, whether such losses, expense, demand, or claim made against the County and/or City of Katy is caused by the County's or City’s negligence or not.
- Library and City of Katy related functions will be given first priority.
- Other requests are considered on a first-come, first-served basis but all prior approvals may be cancelled at any time, including groups that meet at the library on a regular basis. If the use of room is needed on an emergency basis for official governmental business or a reservation is in conflict with the library programming, the reservation will be cancelled and can be rescheduled at the group's request
- Requests for the use of the meeting room may be made in person or by fax by completing an Application for the Use of the Meeting Room form, a copy of which is attached. This form must be submitted to the Deputy Director at least one week in advance of the date requested. Requests for renewals may also be submitted by phone or fax, however, an application form must be completed, on file, and approved before the requested meeting date. A copy of all completed Application for Use of the Meeting Room forms shall be kept at the branch for 12 months.
- The branch librarian must keep a calendar of scheduled use of the meeting room. This calendar must be kept current and available at the circulation desk or at a location accessible to the librarian on duty and to the public. A copy of the calendar of scheduled use of the meeting rooms will be faxed to the City of Katy at the beginning of each week for that weeks schedule use of the meeting rooms. Any changes to the schedule will be updated and faxed to the City of Katy Administrative Offices at 281-391-4813
- Groups reserving a meeting room for the first time will be shown the meeting room, restrooms, and staff lounge when they apply.
- Since many organizations wish to use the meeting room facilities, groups should reserve the room in advance of the date needed. Based on demand, reservations may be subject to time, place, and manner restrictions.
- To give all organizations an opportunity to use the meeting rooms, groups may not reserve space on a regular basis for more than 90 days.
- Reservations are not automatically renewable.
- Groups holding reservations are requested to notify the library of any cancellation at the earliest possible date in order to free the meeting room for other groups.
- The meeting room is only available when the library is open to the public.
The Texas Public Information Act provides that all information collected, assembled, or maintained by or for governmental bodies, (except in those situations where the governmental body does not have either a right of access to or ownership of the information, pursuant to the law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official business) is public information and available to the public during normal business hours of any governmental body.
The Texas Public Information Act, however, provides a list of exempted records, one of these being records of a library or library system, supported in whole or in part by public funds, that identify or serve to identify a person who requests, obtains, or uses a library material or service.
The library records may be disclosed if the library determines that disclosure is reasonably necessary for the operation of the library or library system, and the records are not confidential under other state or federal law and
- the records are released to the person to whom the information relates
- a person to whom the information relates has given permission, in writing, for the information to be released to another person
- the Texas Attorney General has determined that the information should be released
- the records are released to a law enforcement agency or a prosecutor under a court order or subpoena, or in response to a warrant issued under the U.S. Patriot Act - see Procedures for Responding to Law Enforcement Requests for Library Records and/or Equipment
The American Library Association's statement on Professional Ethics provides that librarians
- must provide a high level of service and assistance to their customers,
- resist efforts by groups or individuals to censor library materials,
- protect each user's right to privacy regarding materials used or information sought,
- adhere to the principles of due process and equality of opportunity in peer relationships and personnel actions,
- distinguish between their personal philosophies and attitudes and those of the library,
- avoid situations in which personal interests are served or financial benefits are gained at the expense of the library or the library users.
The American Library Association’s Policy on Confidentiality of Library Records recommends that each library adopt a policy regarding the confidentiality of and availability of circulation records and other records identifying the names of library users.
I. CIRCULATION RECORDS
The Library Card Registration form must be signed by a parent or guardian; the parent or guardian's name must be recorded in the online Patron record in the Parents/Guardians field.
For juvenile cards circulation information may be released to
- Circulation information is defined as any information linking a customer to a specific item or subject category of library material.
- Information on circulation system screens about patrons, their circulation transactions or registration is confidential.
- Adult cards are issued to customers 18 and over. Information may be released to
- the card holder
- to any person who is carrying written permission from the card holder to access circulation information.
Presentation of a library card implies authorization by the card holder to access circulation records
- Juvenile cards are issued to customers under the age of 18.
- the child card holder
- the adult(s) who signed the Library Card Registration form and whose name(s) is/are recorded in the Patron record.
- anyone with written permission from the adult(s) who signed the Library Card Registration form (whose names are recorded in the Patron record.)
Presentation of a library card implies authorization by the card holder to access circulation records
The library will accept payment for fines, lost charges, and processing fees for materials a person is returning even if the materials and the payments were checked out by one or more others customer(s). In such cases, it is permitted to give the person paying the receipts for all those payments.
Note: the person paying the fines, charges, and fees is NOT required to present the library card(s) of the customers(s) whose fines, etc. are being paid.
The library will accept payment for lost charges and processing fees for a payment against the balance from anyone even if the payment is made independent of the returning of materials. In such cases, also it is permitted to give the person who pays the receipts for all those payments.
Note: the person paying the fines, charges, and fees is NOT required to present the library card(s) of the customer(s) whose fines, etc. are being paid.
- Renewal of materials: A person wishing to renew materials (his/her own or someone else’s) must present a library card or the appropriate identification the same as is required for the first checkout.
- This is true even if the person just returned those materials (for example, for a neighbor) and paid the fines on them.
- In the case of a renewing his/her child’s book on the child’s library card, the parent would either have to present the child’s card, check the items out on parent/guardian information on the child’s card.
- Releasing circulation information over the phone requires that
- the caller must have the library card number, name and address and must provide the PIN personal identification number.
- the name and address and PIN must be verified in the checkout function of the circulation system
- Fine payment for Someone Else with Return of Material:
- Fine Payments for Someone Else Independent of Return of Material:
- Check in Receipts: A person returning library materials may have a check in listing the items returned even though that may have the names of the other customers whose materials s/he is returning.
The Library Card Registration form includes a field for Names of Persons Who May Pick Up Material Reserved on This Card. This information is recorded in the "Who Picks Up Holds" field in the Patron record.
Those who may pick up holds for that customer are:
Note: The permission to pick up holds does not extend generally to other circulation information about the customer.
A customer may request by telephone that his/her email address be added to, changed in, or deleted from his registration information. Such requests must however include provision of the library card number to protect the confidentiality and security of the record.
- When a minor turns 18 he/she may be encouraged to update his/her card to adult status by completing a new Library Card Registration form. At this point the names of adults who had access to these records must be deleted from the patron record and the patron type must be changed to adult.
- Completed Library Card Registration forms must not be left where they can be seen by other library users.
- Who May Pick Up Holds
- the card holder
- the card holder's parent or guardian for those under 18
- any person named by the customer on a reserve for that specific title.
- any person whose name is in the"Who Picks Up Holds" field of the Dynix Patron record.
- EMAIL Address information
- PIN Numbers
The Library Card Registration form includes a place to assign a personal identification (PIN) used for direct customer access to confidential information in the circulation system. The form requires that the mother’s maiden name be recorded as security information to authorize release of the PIN.
III. RESERVE FORMS
- The customer may use the reserve form to authorize another person to pick up that item.
- When calling to notify a customer that the material he/she requested is available, the following procedures must be followed:
- Title information may be released to the person who made the request or to the person whose name is listed in the authorization statement on the reserve form.
- In the case of children title information can be released to the parents/guardians who signed the Library Card Registration Form (and who are shown in the Patron Record) or to the person whose name is listed in the authorization statement on the reserve form.
- When leaving a message do not give out title information. A message similar to the following should be left: "The material that was requested by (name) is available at (branch). It will be held until (date)."
- The Hold Shelf and any other area where reserved materials are stored temporarily must be arranged so that the names of the individuals requesting the materials are not visible to other customers.
- Discard the reserve slip when the material is picked up.
IV. CUSTOMER PRIVACY AND CONFIDENTIALITY
Reading logs should be taken home by the customer and updated by the customer. Any logs kept at the branch must be kept away from the public areas. There should be no public access to a customer’s reading logs.
Section 552.352 Distribution of Confidential Information
- Reference services are confidential.
- The reference interview should be conducted as discreetly and quietly as possible to preserve confidentiality.
- Staff must not discuss a customer's questions or reading habits except in the course of conducting library business.
- Summer Reading Program Logs are confidential. Staff must follow established procedures:
- Volunteers as well as staff are responsible for keeping these records confidential.
- Distribution of confidential information is a misdemeanor under Section of the Texas Public Information Act.
- A person commits an offense if the person distributes information considered confidential under the terms of this chapter
- An offense under this section is a misdemeanor punishable by:
- a fine of not more than $1,000;
- confinement in the county jail for not more than six months;
- both the fine and confinement.
- A violation under this section constitutes official misconduct
- Confidential records must be released to a law enforcement officer or prosecutor if a subpoena or court order is received. If the subpoena or court order requires immediate compliance, do so and notify the Library Director or Deputy Director as soon as possible. If the date on the court order or subpoena is in the future notify the Library Director or Deputy Director and fax or deliver the document the same day it is received.
- Any other request for information under the Texas Public Information Act should be faxed or delivered to the Library Director or the Deputy Director the same day it is received. This will be forwarded to the County Attorney for disposition.
Harris County Public Library serves as your pathway to knowledge. The Library provides information and resources to enrich lives and strengthen communities through innovative services within and beyond our walls. In order to achieve this, a Behavior Policy has been established by the Library. This policy has been created to ensure the safety and rights of our customers. Customers not in compliance with the Library’s Behavior Policy may be asked by Library staff to leave library property, and, when appropriate, members of the staff will contact the police.
A. Disruptive Behavior
Behavior that interferes with other customers' rights to use the library, including excessive noise in designated quiet areas, the odor of a customer and/or the personal belongings of that customer constituting a nuisance to others, and unapproved vigorous physical activity.
B. Illegal Behavior
Violations of Federal or Texas law or local municipal ordinances are absolutely prohibited, including, but not limited to: fighting, the use of obscenities, verbal abuse, and other forms of disorderly conduct, theft, property damage or destruction, public indecency, or intentionally failing to pay a library fine or return library property.
All applicable codes, ordinances, and regulations of municipalities where a building is located shall be adhered to during the use of such premises.
Members of the library staff will notify the appropriate law enforcement agency of violations.
C. Building Regulations
Harris County Facilities and Property Management Building Regulations govern the use of space in library buildings. These include, but are not limited to the following prohibitions: smoking, interference with the free ingress and egress to the building, and the solicitation or sale of goods or services (other than foreclosure, sheriffs, and constable's sales or invited vendors) on public property is prohibited, unless the Entity receives the prior written approval of Commissioners Court.
The full text of these regulations may be downloaded here.
D. Children at Closing
Children have the same rights as adults to be in the library. They must follow library rules of behavior. If they transgress any of the above rules, their parent or guardian may be called to intercede. If a child's behavior necessitates them leaving the library, and this leaving could pose a risk to the child, the local law enforcement agency may be called as well as the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
Suspected child abuse or neglect will be reported to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
Members of the library staff will notify the appropriate law enforcement agency for children left after the closing hours.
- Customers must have a library card in order to check out materials
- Reference items may not be checked out.
- Customers will be limited to 20 DVDs at any one time.
- Customers may have a total of 75 items checked out at any one time.
- All items circulate for two weeks (14 days)
- There is a limit of 2 renewals for most items; DVDs are limited to one renewal.
- Renewal loan periods are the same length as the original loan period.
- Items may not be renewed if there is a hold for another customer on that title or that item.
- Renewal of overdue items posts fines.
- Renewal is not permitted if there are blocks on a customer’s record.
- Items may be renewed through the online catalog or telephone renewal system (713-747-4763). Instructions are available on the website.
"Holds" is a free service that allows customers to reserve a copy of a County-owned title that is not currently available. The service includes delivery of a copy of that title when one becomes available to the branch the customer chooses, and a notice by phone or e-mail when the item is available in that branch.
Holds can be placed in person or over the phone with a staff member or using the online catalog. Customers may place a maximum of 15 simultaneous holds per library card.
Fines and Fees
DVDs 25¢ per day
Other materials 10¢ per day
The maximum fine per item is $3.00.
Lost Items Cost of the item
If a lost item is found within a year, the customer can request a refund. The original receipt will be needed.
Any financial obligation of $25.00 or MORE posted on the customer's financial record will cause the patron's record to be blocked in the circulation system. Borrowing privileges only become available again when the balance owed is less than $25.00.
Cash, personal and business checks (with identification), cashiers checks, money orders, and traveler's checks can be accepted as payment for all library fines, and fees. You can pay online using a credit card.
The Harris County Public Library Materials Selection Policy serves to guide librarians and inform the public regarding the principles on which library materials are selected and maintained.
The Materials Selection Policy supports the democratic principles set forth in the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States:
Congress Shall Make No Law Respecting An Establishment Of Religion, Or Prohibiting The Free Exercise Thereof; Or Abridging The Freedom Of Speech, Or Of The Press; Or The Right Of The People Peaceably To Assemble, And To Petition The Government For A Redress Of Grievances.
The Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution was ratified on December 15, 1791
Harris County Public Library
- Provides free and open access to materials and services without qualification.
The Library does not serve in place of parents or guardians who have the obligation and right to screen materials for their own minor children.
- Supports the individual’s right to access ideas and information representing all points of view. The Library has adopted the Library Bill of Rights (en Español), as well as statements affirming the Freedom to Read and the Freedom to View.
Further, the Library supports the American Library Association Code of Ethics.
- Includes in the Library’s collection of print, audio-visual and electronic resources materials intended to meet the needs of a large and highly diverse population. These comprise, but are not limited to, the cultural, informational, educational, and recreational needs of the citizens of Harris County.
- Strives to create an environment where customers may seek information on any and all topics without judgment.
All items added to the collection, whether through purchase or donation, are evaluated by the professional staff in order to ensure that the Library’s collection is dynamic and evolving to reflect the needs and interests of the community. Factors which may be considered are value to the existing collection, balance of viewpoints, timeliness, accuracy of information, literary and/or artistic merit, format, durability, and cost. Through Interlibrary Loan and interbranch holds, the Library participates in resource sharing to avoid unnecessary duplication of materials. Selection decisions may be guided by reviews in professional journals, standard bibliographies, popular culture, current events, or customer interest.
Given the necessity of including information on a broad range of topics, it is expected that there may be materials in the collection that are regarded as controversial by some members of the community. Customers wishing to comment on library materials may complete the Request for Reconsideration of Materials Form, available at every branch and online. All such requests are reviewed by the Materials Reconsideration committee, the Deputy Director and the Library Director.
The constraints of space, accuracy, and timeliness require that the collection be continually monitored with items being withdrawn as necessary. Additional factors which may be considered include physical condition, duplication, seldom used items, the publication of a new edition or the introduction of a different format.
All items purchased with Harris County Public Library funds or received by donation are the property of Harris County. Texas state law (Local Government Code, Chapter 263 - Sale or Lease of Property by Counties, Subchapter D - Disposal of Salvage or Surplus, 263.52 Disposition) must be followed in the disposing of County property.
The Library Director is the final authority for the selection, retention, and withdrawal of materials. Authority is delegated to the professional staff of the Materials Selection department to interpret and implement this policy.
The policies and procedures for displaying informational brochures, flyers, pamphlets, posters or arts and crafts are established herein. Display of these items does not constitute an endorsement by the County or the Library. The responsibility for implementing this policy and for displaying the above items rests with the individual librarian in charge of the building where the items are to be displayed. The Library Director retains final authority for implementing this policy.
I. Inside Library
Informational brochures, flyers, pamphlets, posters or arts and crafts may be displayed in designated areas within the branch libraries of Harris County upon approval by the Branch Librarian. Final authority remains with the Library Director.
Regulations for Display of Materials
- Library related items, including Friends of the Library information, will receive first priority for displaying purposes. Other items will be displayed on a first-come, first-served basis.
- The Librarian in charge reserves the right to enforce time, place and manner restrictions on the display if necessary.
II. Outside Library
The public may set up tables on county property outside the library to display informational materials or for the signing of petitions. Use of the property does not constitute endorsement by the County or the library of points of views expressed by any person or group. No advertisement or announcement implying such endorsement will be permitted.
Regulations for Display of Materials on Library Grounds and Signing of Petitions on Library Grounds
NOTE: Librarians in buildings that are city-owned should contact their city to find out the city's policy on such requests.
- A person or group may only set up one table and have one chair. The table and chair must be provided by the group or person requesting to set up a table outside the library.
- A person or group may not attach anything to our buildings.
- A person or group cannot place the table so that it obstructs people from entering and leaving the building. They may not place the table on sidewalks leading to the building in such a way that our customers have to walk around the table in order to get to the library building.
- A person's or group's table may not be near the entrance to the library.
- A person or group may only be outside of the library during the hours the branch library is open to the public.
Our library is a public space and all members of the public are welcome to take photographs in our space. When photographing members of the public it is recommended that the photographer inform the subjects of the image to gain their consent. If a member of the public does not wish to be photographed, please respect their choice.
As Library Staff: when featuring (i.e. close-up, where no other faces are visible)
a patron in your photograph;
- Please first gain their verbal consent
- If they are a minor under the age of 18, give the parent or guardian our Model release form. The model release form is for members of the public, to acknowledge that their image may be published.
Model release forms are not required for:
- group images with more then 1 person
- images of adults where you have received verbal consent
- images that will NOT be published
For library Programs: Programmers will need to announce at the beginning of each program that “the library may photograph or videotape you for library promotional purposes. Notify library staff if you do not want to be photographed.”
As a Member of the Public: If you do not wish to have your photograph taken while attending a library program, please inform the librarian or photographer.
Members of the Public may take photos in the libraries with no permission forms. If they are setting up a formal photo session or if they are with a local news organization, they must first contact the Branch Librarian or the Coordinator of Programs,Partnerships and Outreach.
Harris County Public Library strives to give outstanding service to every child. Our pledge is to make the best possible use of our resources to enrich the experience of all children whether they are accompanied by a parent or in the care of an unrelated individual when visiting our libraries.
A variety of programs for children of all ages is provided throughout the year. All library programs are free and open to the general public. The safety of the children we serve is our first consideration. Room capacity as determined by the fire marshal as well as our desire for a high quality program experience for the children may necessitate limits on the participation of organized groups. Multiple sessions of popular programs will be scheduled whenever possible to allow for maximum attendance.
A widely diverse library system, Harris County Public Library serves communities with populations of only a few thousand up to more than 100,000 residents. Our buildings range from 2,700 to 78,000 square feet. Although some of our branch libraries are able to admit groups to advertised programs on a regular basis, in other locations group attendance is rarely feasible.
Schools and daycare or other organized groups that have not received advance authorization to attend a scheduled program will be admitted if space and materials are available at the advertised starting time with the understanding that it may not be possible to admit everyone in the group. When this situation occurs the group leader will be informed as to how many children can be accommodated. The group leader will then make the decision as to which, if any members of the group attend. The group leader is expected to provide supervision for all children in their care, in or out of the program.
In those instances when groups cannot be accommodated at scheduled programs library staff will offer to provide a special program for the group at a later and mutually agreed upon date. Special group programs can be offered no more than once a month per group. While it is preferable for groups to visit their branch library in order to experience the full scope of offerings it may be possible for a library staff member to present a program at the group’s site. Several branches provide daycare storytimes that are not announced to the general public, but open only to groups by reservation.
In order to provide the highest level of service to as many of our customers as possible each branch library works to determine how best to serve the children in their community. It is always preferable for groups to contact the branch children’s librarian before arriving at the library so that library staff can determine what level of assistance may be available. Groups wishing to visit the library without the expectation of any presentation by library staff are welcome at any time.
The Harris County Public Library system offers free proctoring services for individuals at most of its branch libraries. (Note: TMC Library does not offer proctoring). Because each branch location is different, the availability of personnel, facilities, technology, and hours of operations will vary. Please contact a librarian at the branch well in advance of your exam to determine if the branch will be able to accommodate your request.
Guidelines for All Examinations
- The student should make an advance appointment with the library staff at the branch to schedule a date and time to take the exam.
- It is preferred that written tests be sent to the library through the U.S. Postal Service, commercial delivery services (such as FedEx or UPS) or by e-mail.
- Library staff will contact the student when the library receives a written exam if student contact information has been provided in advance. However, the student is ultimately responsible for confirming that the exam has been received.
- Library staff cannot read the examination to the student, but Harris County Public Library will make reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities. To make a request, notify the Branch Librarian.
- Library staff follows the instructions provided by exam providers, and therefore cannot explain exam questions or provide any guidance to the student during the exam.
- Any and all financial transactions between the student and the examining institution or delivery service must be made directly between those parties. The library staff is unable to hold or handle any cash or fees.
- At the completion of a written exam, the library will return the exam directly to the issuing institution through the U.S. Postal Service at the next regularly scheduled pickup from the library. Exams may be returned through a commercial delivery service if the student makes arrangements for pickup at the library. The library may be able to return the exam by fax if requested to do so in advance.
- The student is responsible for all delivery costs. A return envelope addressed to the testing institution and the appropriate amount of postage (stamps) or a pre-paid commercial delivery envelope must be supplied by the student if it has not been included with the exam. The completed exam will be held at the library until this is provided. The exam will not be held for more than fourteen calendar days.
- Because the primary task of the staff is to provide general library services to customers, we regret that we are unable to provide some of the more specialized proctoring requirements of some testing institutions. Students are responsible for checking with the library staff in advance to make sure that their proctoring needs can be met. If any of these special conditions apply, the student will need to take the examination at another location:
- In-room direct supervision of the testing is required.
- Timing of individual sections of an exam is required.
- Disabling of the Internet or restricting of access to sites on the Internet is required.
- Scanning of examination papers or test results is required.
- Group testing of multiple individuals is required.
Online Examinations and other Computer Based Examinations
- While this service is offered at many branches, the availability of personnel, rooms, number of available computers, and hours of operations will vary depending on the particular branch.
- Students should contact branch library staff before scheduling an online examination to discuss arrangements for taking the test. Special adjustments may need to be made to the library’s computer booking system to accommodate an examining institution’s time requirements.
- The library’s existing policy for Acceptable Use of the Internet will apply.
As of February 2020, Harris County Public Library has new and expanded reciprocal service agreements with three area library systems: Bellaire City Library, Montgomery County Library System and Pasadena Public Library.
- Bellaire City Library (BCL) -- Harris County Public Library (HCPL) Reciprocal Services
- Reciprocal holds and borrowing for HCPL customers on most BCL material is allowed. HCPL customers may request holds on BCL material for delivery to any HCPL branch, and they may use their HCPL cards at BCL to check out most material. BCL DVDs, New Books, and booklist titles may only be checked out at BCL.
- Reciprocal holds and borrowing for BCL customers on HCPL circulating material is allowed. BCL customers may request holds on HCPL material for delivery to BCL, and they may use their BCL cards at HCPL branches to check out HCPL circulating material.
- Borrowing rules for the checkout location apply to checkout transactions.
- HCPL customers may not place holds on BCL DVDs, New Books or booklist titles, but they may check these items at Bellaire City Library.
- HCPL customers may not check out BCL electronic equipment items.
- Holds for customers of the item’s owning library system will always be filled before holds for customers of the reciprocal library.
- Montgomery County Library System (MCML) -- Harris County Public Library (HCPL) Reciprocal Services
- Reciprocal holds and borrowing for HCPL customers on most MCML material is allowed. HCPL customers may request holds on MCML material for delivery to any HCPL branch, and they may use their HCPL cards at MCML branches to check out most material.
- Reciprocal holds and borrowing for MCML customers on most HCPL material is allowed. MCML customer may request holds on HCPL material for delivery to any MCML branch, and they may user their MCML cards at HCPL branches to check out most HCPL material.
- Borrowing rules for the checkout location apply to checkout transactions.
- HCPL customers may not place holds on or borrow MCML Audio/Visual materials.
- MCML customers may not place holds on or borrow HCPL DVDs.
- Holds for customers of an item’s owning library system will always be filled before holds for customers of the reciprocal library.
- Pasadena Public Library (PPL) -- Harris County Public Library (HCPL) Reciprocal Services
- Reciprocal holds and borrowing for HCPL customers on most PPL material is allowed. HCPL customers may request holds on PPL material for delivery to any HCPL branch, and they may use their HCPL cards at PPL to check out most material. PPL New Books, New DVDs, Playaway Books and DVDs and Vox Books may only be checked out at PPL locations.
- Reciprocal holds and borrowing for PPL customers on HCPL circulating material is allowed. PPL customers may request holds on HCPL material for delivery to any PPL branch, and they may use their PPL cards at HCPL branches to check out HCPL circulating material.
- Borrowing rules for the checkout location apply to checkout transactions.
- HCPL customers may not place holds on PPL New Books, New DVDs, Playaway Books and DVDs and Vox Books.
- HCPL customers may not check out PPL electronic equipment items.
- Holds for customers of the item’s owning library system will always be filled before holds for customers of the reciprocal library.
- HCPL customers may select BCL or either PPL branch as the pickup location for HCPL holds.
- Reciprocal Borrowing agreements between HCPL and other libraries apply only to physical materials. eBooks, eAudiobooks and other electronic materials are not accessible to customers from reciprocal libraries.
- Material from any BCL, PPL or MCML library may be returned to HCPL.
- HCPL materials may be returned at any HCPL, BCL, MCML or PPL library.
Checkout, renewal and fine/fee policies for the various libraries differ (significantly, in some cases), so it is important for customers to understand that the rules for the checkout location apply to all materials checked out there, regardless of the material’s owning library, (for example, if you place a hold on book owned by Bellaire City Library to be picked up and checked out at Harris County Public Library’s West University Branch, the checkout, renewal, fine policies for Harris County Public Library will apply).
Customers are responsible for keeping up with due dates of the items they check out.