The policies were established to provide for equal and fair service to all Library users. All policies established by the Board of Library Trustees comply with federal, state, and local laws and should not be used to circumvent any law. Library policy may be added and/or changed only by vote of the Board of Library Trustees.

The Manchester Public Library supports the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights that states in article 5, “A person’s right to use a Library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background or views,” and include race, gender, or identity.

Vision Statement

Flexibility and focus in the present, strengthened by the spirit of traditions past, will compel us to provide vital and essential opportunities for the future.

Mission Statement

Manchester-by-the-Sea Public Library is inclusive; an engaging and evolving civic hub for all. Sustaining community connections and innovative opportunities, the welcoming environment is a place of discovery and enrichment for all on the continuum of learning.

Revised: April 22, 2022

The Library is a Department of town government, governed by an elected three-member Board of Library Trustees. The Board’s authority is derived from Chapter 78. Sections 10 and 11 of the Massachusetts General Laws. Responsibility for Library management, collection development, and provision of Library services to the public is delegated by the Board of Library Trustees to the Library Director. The Director is appointed by and directly responsible to the Board and is an employee of the Town of Manchester-by-the- Sea Massachusetts General Law.

Chapter 78: Section 10. Town libraries; selection of trustees and officers

Section 10. A town which raises or appropriates money for the support of a free public Library, or free public Library and reading room, owned by the town, shall, unless the same has been acquired entirely or in part through some gift or bequest which contains other conditions or provisions for the election of its trustees, or for its care and management, which have been accepted by the town, elect by ballot at a meeting a board of trustees consisting of any number of persons, male or female, divisible by three, which the town determines to elect. When such board is first chosen, one third thereof shall be elected for one year, one third for two years and one third for three years, and thereafter one third shall be elected annually for a term of three years. The board shall, from its own number, annually choose a chairman and secretary and, if the town so votes, a treasurer, who shall give a bond similar to that given by the town treasurer, in an amount and with sureties to the satisfaction of the selectmen. Until the town otherwise directs the town treasurer shall act as treasurer of the board of trustees.

Chapter 78: Section 11. Board of trustees; powers and duties

Section 11. The board shall have the custody and management of the Library and reading room and of all property owned by the town relating thereto. All money raised or appropriated by the town for its support and maintenance shall be expended by the board, and all money or property which the town may receive by gift or bequest for said Library and reading room shall be administered by the board in accordance with the provisions of such gift or bequest. The board of any Library, for the purpose of improving the services of said Library, may enter into an agreement with the board or boards of any neighboring Library or libraries, to pay for services in common, or to manage a facility to be operated jointly by more than one municipality, such payments to be shared in accordance with terms of such agreement.

The income and principle from trust funds, donations, gifts, or grants are reinvested or used according to the wishes and prescriptions of the Grantor, and by authorization of the Trustees.

Income generated by the Library (fines or fees, etc.) reverts to the General Fund of the Town.

Assets from donations, gifts and grants, and the interest, are held in accounts administrated by Town Hall, and are only for use at the express direction of the Library Board of Trustees to support Library needs and services. This information is available as a matter of public record.

Definitions

Non-appropriated Funds: Those monies that come to the Manchester-by-the-Sea Public Library from sources other than Town taxes and appropriations. These sources include grants, monetary gifts, bequests, and income from fund sources. Non- appropriated funds not directed for a specific purpose by a donor are to be used to enhance the services of the Library and to raise the Library operations to a higher level of excellence than can be achieved through normal public funding.

Appropriated Funds: Those monies raised by taxation and appropriated by the Annual Town meeting which fund normal operations of the Library and include capital items that may be required to this end.

Trust Funds: Usually significant gifts to the Library which are under the stewardship of the Library Trustees and may have some degree of donor restriction as to use. The Trustees shall follow the instructions of the Trust Document with such restrictions. If none, the interest, current and accumulated, from such trust funds may be spent on an annual basis at the discretion of the Trustees. Although it is desirable to keep the trust fund principal intact, any unrestricted portions of the principal may be spent should the Trustees deem it necessary.

Gift Accounts: Vehicles for grants and small, less formal monetary donations, which are held by the Town Treasurer. Funds in the gift account may be used in their entirety at the discretion of the Trustees and subject to the limitations set by the donor (e.g., gift to be spent on books, grant to be used for computer education, etc.) Any interest earned by the Gift Account by law goes to the General Fund of the Town. In general, restricted gift accounts shall be used before trust fund accounts.

Allocation and Management of Non-Appropriated Funds

The Library Trustees have ultimate responsibility for the allocation of these monies. The Library Trustees shall set forth investment policies for Trust accounts according to the investment policy of the Town.

The Trustees and Library Director at the time budgets for the next fiscal year are being developed, shall review the needs of the Library for the coming year, and for a five-year term. The Trustees and Director shall determine which needs should be met through use of non-appropriated funds and prepare a spending plan.

The Treasurer of the Board of Library Trustees shall maintain adequate records of non-appropriated funds to include any restrictions that may apply to gifts, bequests, or endowments.

The Library Director shall provide the Treasurer of the Trustees quarterly reports of non-appropriated monies received and disbursed.

Approved: March 20, 2015
Revised: February 3, 2022

Responsibility for Library management, collection development, and provision of Library services to the public is delegated by the Board to the Library Director. The Director is appointed by and directly responsible to the Board and is an employee of the Town of Manchester-by-the-Sea.

Staffing: The Library has four full time positions: Library Director, Head of Adult Services, Head of Youth Services, and Head of Circulation/Interlibrary Loan. The remaining positions are part time: Cataloger, young adult librarian (added FY13), three Library Assistant-Clerks, substitute Library Assistant-Clerks, Custodian and substitute Custodian. (The part time and substitute positions vary.) The full-time equivalent is 5.71 persons. There are two positions that are on record that remain unfilled, the Assistant Librarian and Library Page. The job descriptions for all positions are on file with the Town and in the Library Director’s office. All Library personnel are employed by the Town of Manchester and report directly to the Director.

The three full-time librarians – Head of Adult Services, Head of Youth Services, and Head of Circulation/Interlibrary Loan – are members of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). The union contract defines working conditions, scheduling, and benefits for members.

Part time employees may not work more than 19 hours per week on a regular basis. While a regular schedule is necessary for the operation of the Library, part time hours are subject to change at any time. Time off is granted at the discretion of the Director. As of July 1, 2007, part time employees, on the regular schedule, receive pay for holidays and closings.

The Director and part time employees are subject to the Town of Manchester-by-the-Sea Personnel Rules and Regulations.

Revised July 1, 2007

The Friends of the Manchester Public Library is a private, non-profit association established for the purpose of promoting interest, community awareness and use of the Manchester Public Library. All funds of the Association shall be devoted to enhancement of the Library, subject to the approval of the Board of Library Trustees.

See VI) Appendix b, Friends of the Library By-laws.

The Manchester-by-the-Sea Public Library has been a full member of the Merrimack Valley Library Consortia since 1988. As a member of MVLC, the Library is also part of the Massachusetts Library System (MLS, established July 2011). The Library is certified annually by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) to receive state aid, library equalization grants (LEG), and Library Services and Technology Act grants (LSTA).  Certification gives Manchester residents reciprocal borrowing privileges at most other Massachusetts public libraries and allows them to borrow material from other Mass libraries through interlibrary loan. Without certification these benefits would disappear.

(Reciprocal borrowing refers to Manchester residents using other Mass public libraries directly. Interlibrary loan refers to Manchester residents borrowing material from other Mass libraries via the statewide delivery system.)

MVLC is a non-profit organization that provides for resource sharing among member libraries. MVLC maintains the Library’s patron and bibliographic records. MVLC’s on- line catalog gives its members access to all the members’ collections. Patrons of member libraries may borrow from and return material to any MVLC library. The state, via MLS, maintains the delivery system.

Additional benefits for Manchester residents from the Library’s consortia, regional, and state relationships:

Revised February 3, 2022

Recognizing that the people of Manchester by-the-sea are actively engaged in literacy, community, and the pursuit of knowledge the Library strives to be readily accessible to a busy and diverse population.  The Library hours of service plan is continually managed by the Library Director with the support and approval of the Library Board of Trustees. The plan is designed to meet all requirements to secure State Aid and to adhere to union and contractual obligations. The schedule is determined according to the following parameters:

  • Excepting for when external circumstances prevail (holidays, inclement weather, state of emergency, etc.) The Library will be open on a regular schedule every weekday for minimum of six hours.
  • The schedule is focused on the hours when the Library experiences its heaviest use in both patron access and staff activity.
  • There are to be at least two weekdays of evening, or outside business hours, access.
  • Opening on weekends is highly important during the school year and is a priority. The goals for non-holiday weekend day hours are:
    • Saturday hours should be available from the first weekend after Labor Day through June.
    • Sunday hours should be offered after Columbus Day up to the Sunday of Patriots Day weekend.
    • Weekend hours are not subject to the six-hour minimum.
  • The Library will not close and re-open on the same day.
  • Opening hours are posted on the website, and at the entry doors at all times.
  • Every effort is made to keep the schedule static unless or until changes are mandated by external forces.

Adopted: August, 2006
Revised: September, 2014
Revised: February 25, 2022

The Library recognizes official Federal, State, and Local holidays, as well as any stipulated by union contract. Although subject to change by law, annually the Library closes in observance of the following holidays:

  1. New Year’s Day
  2. Martin Luther King Day
  3. Presidents’ Day
  4. Patriots’ Day
  5. Memorial Day
  6. Juneteenth
  7. July 4th
  8. Labor Day
  9. Columbus Day
  10. Veterans’ Day
  11. Thanksgiving
  12. Friday after Thanksgiving
  13. Christmas

Unless other scheduling policies apply, the Library is open from 10:00am – 1:00pm on the following days:

  1. Friday before The Friends of the Library Annual Book Sale
  2. July 3rd
  3. Day before Thanksgiving
  4. Christmas Eve
  5. New Year’s Eve

Early Closing: Circumstances may dictate the need to close early on some days. As a general rule, early closings are 1:00 pm on days when the Library would normally close by 5:00 pm, or four hours before the regularly scheduled closing time. The early closing time for a particular day may be decided by the Library Director in communication with the Board of Trustees as needed.

Open Meetings: The Library will close at 6:00 pm on the night of Town Meetings and the Friends of the Library Annual Meeting. If Town Meeting is during daylight hours, the Library will close a minimum of 30 minutes before the meeting.

Annual Friends of the Library Summer Booksale: The Library will close at 1:00 pm on the Friday before the Friends of the Library annual book sale and remain closed until the subsequent Monday.

Holiday Closing: Closings related to holidays falling on weekends will be determined on a year-to-year basis following closely the practices of Town Hall and the dictates of the union contract. The Union Contract states that when a holiday falls on a Saturday the Library may close on the preceding Friday. When a holiday falls on a Sunday, the Library may close on the following Monday. In the case of uncertainty or extenuating circumstances the Library Trustees will decide.

Adopted: February 6, 1997
Revised: May 18, 2000
Revised: August 5, 2004
Revised: November, 2013
Revised: September 25, 2014
Revised: February 25, 2022
Revised: July 22, 2022

The Library Director shall make the decision to close due to utility outage. The decision will be based on information provided by the utility contractor and with considerations for patron and staff safety. Should the decision be to close, efforts will be made to contact one Trustee by telephone and a call will be made to the Selectmen’s Office. Staff and volunteers will be phoned if necessary.

In the absence of the Library Director, the staff member in charge will make the decisions above according to policy.

Approved: August 5, 2004

Confidentiality

This policy is based on recommendations of the American Library Association and Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 78, Section 7 which states, That part of the records of a public Library which reveals the identity and intellectual pursuits of a person using such Library shall not be a public record as defined by clause Twenty-sixth of section seven of chapter four.


The Manchester-by-the-Sea Public Library (Library) knows that patrons have a right to privacy and confidentiality with all their interactions with the Library. The Library follows the American Library Association’s Code of Ethics as a guide when providing information services to our patrons.

Manchester-by-the-Sea Public Library recognizes that Library records and patron information are confidential. The patron information the Library collects is stored with Merrimack Valley Library Consortium (MVLC). As a consortium member, the patron information Manchester-by-the-Sea Public Library collects, and patron records libraries access are securely stored and maintained on MVLC servers for the purpose of conducting Library business. For more detail on how MVLC collects and stores patron information, read their privacy policy

Library records may include but are not exclusively limited to:

  • Registration information (name, address, phone number, email address, age, etc.)
  • Borrowing history, including material checked out and returned, holds, overdue
  • items and lost items.
  • Reference transactions, reference requests, reference, and readers advisory services.
  • Public computer use

Therefore:

  • Individuals should obtain their own Library card. The Library will not access an account if the cardholder is not present. Library patrons can access their accounts through the MVLC online catalog. Patrons need their Library card number and Personal Identification Number (PIN) to access. Patrons may change their PIN at any time.
  • Personal data records and transactional information captured as part of interactions with the Library will not be made available to any individual except the cardholder or as noted below. In the case of minor children, the parent/guardian must have the physical card, overdue notice, or the child with them.
  • In accordance with Massachusetts law Chapter 78 section 7, Library authorities may disclose or exchange information relating to Library users for the purposes of inter-Library cooperation and coordination.
  • The Library supports interactions with partner services and databases. These groups have independent patron registration systems and privacy policies. The patron is encouraged to read the privacy statements of partner websites that collect personally identifiable information (PII).
  • Library records will not be made available to any governmental agency without a subpoena.
  • Library records will not be made available to any commercial agency.
  • All staff members must support this policy of confidentiality.

The Manchester-by-the-Sea Public Library recognizes that patrons need flexibility when using the Library, therefore patrons are allowed to lend their card to visitors, with the following restrictions:

  • The cardholder is responsible for all material checked out on his/her Library card including computer use.
  • Visitors must have the physical card with them. Written or telephone permission is not acceptable.
  • The Library card must be current, no outstanding overdue items or long overdue material. Library staff cannot discuss delinquencies with the guest, only with the cardholder.
  • The librarian will look up the account for a patron who does not have his/her card with him/her, but only for that patron. Patron may be asked for a photo ID.

Family members and friends asking to pick up hold items for another patron will be allowed to do so.

Privacy

Manchester-by-the-Sea Public Library makes every effort to protect the privacy of those who access and utilize our website from any device.

Individual visits to our website are logged automatically by servers and software programs are used to summarize data from those visits. The data summaries do not identify an individual visitor by name. Server logs and statistical summaries are reviewed to learn how web pages are used to improve website content, better manage network traffic, and troubleshoot server problems. Any information provided including name, address, phone number, email will not be released, sold, or rented to any entities or individuals outside of the Manchester-by-the-Sea Public Library.

Personal Data

While using our website, the visitor may be asked to provide certain personally identifiable information that can be used to contact or identify the individual. This information may include, but is not limited to:

  • Email address
  • First name and last name
  • Phone number
  • Address, State, Province, ZIP/Postal code, City
  • Usage Data

Usage Data

Usage Data is collected automatically when using this website. Usage Data may include information such as the device’s Internet Protocol address (e.g., IP address), browser type, browser version, the pages of our website that are visited, the time and date of the visit, the time spent on those pages, unique device identifiers and other diagnostic data.

When the website is accessed by or through a mobile device, some information may be automatically collected, including, but not limited to, the type of mobile device used, its IP address, mobile operating system, the type of mobile Internet browser used, unique device identifiers and other diagnostic data.

Information sent via browsers may also be collected whenever our website is accessed by any device.

Children’s Privacy

The Manchester-by-the-Sea Public Library takes the issue of children’s privacy seriously. We encourage parents and guardians to learn about their children’s online activities and to tell them about the importance of not revealing personal information online and to ask permission of the parent/guardian before giving any personal information to a website. We ask all children using our website, or the websites affiliated with the Library to limit the amount of personal information they provide.

Forms, Surveys, Contests

Occasionally, our website requests information from users via Web forms, surveys, and contests. Participation in these requests for information is completely voluntary; the user has a choice whether to disclose any information. Information requested may include name, contact information, and demographic data (such as ZIP Code and age) as well as information about Library use or service preferences.

Online Readers Advisory assistance may be made available during times of limited building access via the Library’s Personalized Recommendation Forms. These interactive forms require the patron’s library card number, name, phone number, email. This is a private service; no one besides library staff will see the information submitted or the subsequent list created.

Survey results are used for purposes of monitoring or improving the use and satisfaction of this site or other Library services. While general survey findings may be reported, no personally identifiable information is published or disclosed. Personal and contact information may be used by Library staff to contact you for further information or clarification of policies and procedures.

Third-Party Partners

Manchester-by-the-Sea Public Library has licensed certain services with third-party partners for our patrons, such as museum passes registration and electronic newsletters. The information patrons submit to our Library may be provided to those third parties on a confidential basis so they can assist us in providing these services. In cases where patrons leave our Library’s website to visit a partner’s website, patrons are encouraged to learn about the privacy policy of the website they visit.

Outside sites

The Manchester-by-the-Sea Public Library’s website includes selected links to outside websites. Those sites may have different privacy statements and this notice would not apply. This Library is not responsible for protecting personal information gathered by outside websites. It is recommended that patrons learn about the privacy policy of those websites they visit.

Revised: August, 2006
Revised and Adopted: February 25, 2022
Revised: July 22, 2022

Patron Behavior

To promote a quality experience for each Library patron and to maintain the well-being of the physical environment and the materials housed therein, the following regulations have been established:

  • Beverages in a covered container can be consumed in all areas of the main floor except computer workstations and the book stacks.
    • Shoes and shirts must be worn.
    • Respect the Quiet Reading Area in the Reading Room and stacks.
    • Be advised, the Library holds scheduled patron programs often. Please respect the boundaries of these meeting.
    • Please take cell phone calls to the vestibule.
    • No solicitation in the Library.
    • No pets, with the exception of service animals and Library programs with animals are allowed.
    • Staff is not responsible for personal belongings left unattended.
    • Children are not to be left unattended. (See Safe Child Policy)
    • Riding skateboards and roller blades on the premises is not allowed.
    • Bicycles should be left in the bicycle rack at the side entrance.
    • Bikes, skateboards, scooters, etc. may not be parked in the foyer.
    • Equipment brought into the Library by patrons is used at his/her own risk.
    • Vandalism, illegal activities, and destructive or disruptive behavior are prohibited. The patron is responsible for any damage caused by direct or indirect action to the building, furnishings, materials, or equipment.
    • All tobacco products are banned in the Library.

Approved: August, 2006
Revised: November, 2013
Revised: February 3, 2022

Safe Child Policy

Manchester-by-the-Sea is a safe community, nevertheless, the Library is a public building. Library staff is not responsible for overseeing the welfare of small children. The following Safe Child Policy is therefore established.

All children 7 years old and younger must be accompanied and supervised by a parent/caregiver/other responsible adult over the age of 14. At the discretion of a responsible adult a child 8 years and older may be left unattended for the period of time needed to select materials, complete a homework assignment, or attend a program. The child must know how to reach the responsible adult in case the need should arise.

In the event of a child under 12 remaining in the Library after closing, staff will contact the police station.

Approved: August, 2008

Solicitation in the Library of any kind is strictly prohibited, with the exception of collecting signatures for local ballot.

Revised: July 19, 2012
Revised: August, 2006

Free and fair access to material from various points of view to support a learned and expressive community is central to the Library’s mission. As such, the Trustees of the Manchester by-the-Sea Public Library actively support the principles expressed in the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights and Freedom to Read statement (see appendix). This policy describes the criteria used to develop and curate our collection.

MISSION

The Library Mission Statement (see introduction) holds that the Library, “is a place of discovery and enrichment for all on the continuum of learning.” Therefore, the Library strives to provide a balanced collection that meets the needs of everyone in our community regardless of their origin, age, background, views, race, gender, or identity.

RESPONSIBILITY

The Director, with the support of the professional staff, selects materials to be added to or removed from the collection, and determine and plan, programs to be presented to the public. The Director manages and allocates the annual materials and programs budgets.

SELECTION CRITERIA

The Library acquires materials in a wide variety of formats and genres. Multiple copies or formats of an item may be acquired to meet the needs and preferences of patrons. The Library Director and staff use their combined judgment, experience, and professional expertise in conjunction a number of relevant criteria in selecting materials. That criteria include but are not limited to:

  • Relevance to library’s mission
  • Recommendations from professional review sources
  • Informational and recreational needs of users
  • Popularity and local demand
  • Current significance, usefulness, or interest
  • Presentation of multiple viewpoints on a subject or issue
  • Importance as an historical record or of permanent value
  • Relevance to existing collection strengths and weaknesses
  • Significant special group interest or demand
  • High standards of quality in content and format
  • Price and availability
  • Relevance to Manchester by-the-Sea and Cape Ann
  • Patron request
  • Appropriate memorials, donations, and gifts ((See II) Management Policies i. Gifts in Kind”))

COLLECTIONS

All collections (Children’s, Young Adult, Reference, Local, Adult, etc.) are intended to support the Library’s Mission Statement and are subject to the same selection criteria as above. The Library maintains an archive of important works relevant to local history and cooperates with the Trask House to ensure local historical records are maintained.

COLLECTION MAINTENANCE

In order to maintain a collection that is current, reliable, in good condition, well used, and which relates to the needs and interests of library users, materials are withdrawn or replaced on a systematic and continuing basis. The library withdraws materials judged to be dated, inaccurate, no longer in active use, in poor condition, or otherwise not in compliance with the criteria listed.

Withdrawn materials are handled in compliance with legal requirements regarding the disposition of public assets.

The Library transfers withdrawn materials to the Friends of Manchester by-the-Sea Public Library for their book sales that benefit the Library. In certain circumstances withdrawn materials may be given to another municipal department, library, educational institution, or non-profit institution. Outdated and damaged materials with no remaining value are discarded.

OBJECTIONS TO LIBRARY MATERIALS

Concerns about the inclusion of specific library materials may be directed to any staff member. The Library Director is available to review selection decisions as needed and discuss the interpretation of library collection development goals and principles with interested individuals or groups. Formal requests for the withdrawal of specific items must be submitted in writing to the Library Director using the form in II) Management Policies h. Procedure for Reconsideration of materials.

Approved April 22, 2022

Public Performance License

The Library recognizes the fact that ownership of a movie and the right to use it publicly are two separate issues that are resolved by the purchase of Movie Licensing USA. Neither the rental nor the purchase of a movie carries with it the right to show the movie publicly unless the site where the movie is used is properly licensed for public exhibition.

Publicity

  • MPA ratings are given out by a private group and will be listed beside the name of the movie in all parts of its publicity.
    • The Library cannot use the title or information of the movie in a press release which is considered mass-market promotion. However, the Library is allowed to use the title and information of the movie for its newsletters, website, in house promotions, and the online calendar. If a third party further broadcasts our promotional information without our involvement, it is considered mass market distribution and the Library is not held responsible for that action.

Programming is an integral component of Library service that:

  • Expands the Library’s role as a community resource
    • Introduces residents and non-users to Library resources
    • Provides entertainment
    • Provides opportunities for community discussion
    • Provides opportunities for lifelong learning
    • Expands the visibility of the Library

Policy for public performance of movies at the Manchester Public Library:

  • All Library programs are free of charge and open to the public.
    • Rated R (or NC17) movies will be shown after regular Library hours.
    • Regular Library services will not be available during movie programs.
    • Patrons under 18 years of age will need a permission slip signed by parent or guardian to attend a Rated R or NC17 movie, obtained prior to the program.
    • The Library’s staff use the following criteria in making decisions about what movie will be shown: reviews in national and local media, including but not limited to, nominations/awards from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Oscars), Hollywood Foreign Press Association (Golden Globes), British Academy of Film & Television (BAFTA), Broadcast Film Critics Association (Critics Choice Movie Awards), Broadcast Television Critics Association (Critics Choice Television Awards), Sundance Institute, as well as locally produced films.
    • Movies based on a book that is the subject of a book club, Manchester Reads or other program.
    • The Library does not advocate or endorse the content and viewpoints of presenters, programs, or films.
    • The Library does not conduct programming that is purely commercial or religious in nature.
    • Concerns, questions, or complaints about Library-initiated programs should be referred to the Library Director.

Approved: February 6, 2015

The Board of Library Trustees supports the freedom of individuals to read and view materials of their choosing. In the case of children, the responsibility for decisions about appropriateness rests with parents or legal guardians. While we support the right of all users of the Library to reject materials for themselves, no user may attempt to censor materials for others. The Board is committed to the principles of intellectual freedom, as expressed in the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights and the Freedom to Read Statement.

The Trustees establish this procedure for reconsideration to address concerns about Library materials. The patron submitting the request must be a resident of Manchester and hold a valid borrower’s card. Request for reconsideration must be made in writing, on the following form. The material in question will be reviewed by the Trustees and Library Director at a public meeting and a judgment will be issued within 30 (thirty) days of said meeting.

Material to be reconsidered:
Title:                                                                                                               
Author            
Publication date           

Request initiated by:
Name:                                                                                                             
Street Address:                          
City:     State:    ZIP

Do you represent yourself?      An organization?      What organization?                

  • What brought this material to your attention?
  • What is your concern about the material in question? Cite specific pages, illustrations.
  • Have you examined the material in its entirety? If not, indicate which parts.
  • What action would you like to see taken regarding this material?
  • Are you aware of the judgment of this material by literary critics?
  • Are there materials you might suggest that provides additional information and/or another viewpoint on this topic? Source; Author; Title; Publisher; Pub. Date

Please sign and date below. Return this form to the Library Director who will issue copies to the Board of Library Trustees for reconsideration at their next meeting. Board meetings are open to the public and posted at the Town Hall.

Approved: April 27, 2000
Revised: November 13, 2003
Revised: August 5, 2004
Revised: October 23, 2007

Acquisition of Gifts in Kind

The Board of Trustees of the Manchester-by-the-Sea Public Library accepts gifts of tangible property that are appropriate to the functions and appearance of the Library. The Trustees do, however, have the following guidelines for accepting or not accepting a particular gift.

General Conditions

  • The Trustees will not accept any gift of tangible property, if any conditions are attached to the gift as to its location, display, or preservation; or where acceptance of the gift would involve for the Library or Town any security, custodial, or maintenance costs.
    • The Trustees are not responsible for providing appraisal values or monetary evaluations on tangible property offered as gifts for tax purposes or any other reason.
    • The Trustees shall not be obligated to retain any gift and shall be free, through sale or other action, to dispose of the gift if it is so voted by the Board.

Specific Gift Conditions

  • Books, manuscripts, and documents may be accepted as gifts by the Trustees upon the recommendation of the Library Director. The Director shall address

(1) relevance of the gift to the overall collection of the Library, (2) the capability of the Library to secure, archive, and make the gift accessible to the public, and (3) the long-term costs of retaining the gift in good condition.

  • Unless particularly appropriate to the decor of the Library, art works and decorative furniture or objects, generally, shall not be accepted as permanent gifts. The Trustees may accept such objects as loans for display purposes under such terms and conditions as may be established.

Approved: June 24, 2004

The relationship with our community, and the generosity of our benefactors, is one of the most important aspects and responsibilities of the Board of Library Trustees. As such, all accepted gifts via the “Gifts in Kind” policy should be acknowledged. Recognizing gifts follows these guidelines:

  • Small gifts from individuals or organizations to the Library should receive written acknowledgement from the Library Director.
  • Gifts of a more substantive nature, generally more than $1,000 in value, should receive a written thank you notice from one or more members of the Board of Trustees, as determined as a group by the Board. The gift should be noted in the Library Board of Trustees meeting minutes.
  • Any requests for anonymity by the grantor shall be respected.
  • Any acknowledgement costs shall come from Trustee funds held in town accounts.
  • Books purchased with specifically designated funds for the Library collection shall be memorialized and/or commemorated by book plates bearing the name of the designee.

Approved: May 21, 2004
Reviewed: October 23, 2007 
Revised: February 25, 2022

The Manchester Public Library, in partnership with the Friends of the Library, accepts book and other media donations from the public to support the mission of both organizations.

  • The Library will provide a receipt upon request.
  • Neither the Library nor the Friends can put a value on any donations.
  • Neither the Library nor the Friends can accept a book with conditions attached.
  • All donations are final.
  • Donations are accepted at the discretion of the Library and/or the Friends of the Manchester By-The-Sea Public Library.
  • We do not accept encyclopedias, magazines, condensed books, textbooks, VHS tapes, old or damaged materials.

Approved: July 20, 2006
Reviewed: Oct 23, 2007
Revised: July 22, 2022

Public Bulletin Board Policy

  • All postings must be approved by Library staff
    • Postings will be for a specific cultural, educational, or recreational event only
    • Only postings from non-profit organizations are accepted
    • Commercial and/or personal advertising is not accepted
    • Postings for the Town of Manchester will receive first priority
    • Postings may be put up 3 weeks prior to the event
    • The Library Director has the responsibility to manage the limited space and may remove postings at any time
    • Postings may not exceed 11”x17”

Community Table

Material added to the Community Table must be approved by the Library Director. The material must be of an informational, educational, cultural, civil, or recreational theme, distributed by non-profit organizations, or local publishers. Commercial and personal material is not acceptable. The Library Director has the responsibility to manage the limited space and may remove material at any time.

Adopted: 2006
Reviewed: Oct 23, 2007

Library equipment will not be loaned to individuals or private groups. Only circulating materials are available for loan.

Approved: October 26, 2000
Reviewed: August 5, 2006

The Manchester-by-the-Sea Public Library is committed to providing everyone unimpeded access to our resources, programs, and services. We continually seek to increase our website accessibility and usability.

In pursuit of greater accessibility, the Library aspires to AA conformance to W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1.

These guidelines are an industry standard which help Web resources be more accessible to all people, regardless of technology or ability. Also, in keeping with ADA Guidelines, this website has implemented the following:

  • Text Equivalents – images and text are accessible to be modified by size for people who use screen readers and other assistive technologies.
  • Site Structure – appropriate headings are used so people can use the site with assistive technologies.
  • Magnification – screen magnifiers can be used.
  • Color Contrast – color use on the website does not compromise text legibility.

We do our best to ensure the library meets or exceeds all ADA guidelines to the best of our abilities and resources.

If you encounter any accessibility issues when using our website don’t hesitate to contact us or call 978-526-7711.

Approved: April 22, 2022

The Manchester-by-the-Sea Public Library (“The Library”) uses our social media accounts, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, to increase awareness of and access to our programs, events, resources and services in order to serve our mission.  Library staff regularly creates, posts, and shares professional content on social media to communicate and inform the public about relevant information pertaining to the Library and the Town of Manchester-by-the-Sea. 

The Library’s social media pages are intended to create a welcoming and inviting online space for the public to be informed about the Library and to interact with staff and users. By choosing to interact on the Library’s social media pages you agree to these rules.

The Library welcomes public comments, photographs, posts, and messages on social media, and Library personnel will review this content to ensure that it is permissible on its social media pages. The Library is not responsible for where Library posts are shared publicly or privately on social media.  

Users are encouraged to protect their privacy by not posting personally identifying information, such as last name, school, age, phone number, or address. and The Library reserves the right to remove any posts with personal information about other people or that violate a third party’s right to privacy. 

Manchester Library staff will remove comments or content added to the social media pages if they are deemed prohibited and reserves the right to ban or block users who have posted in violation of this policy.

Examples of prohibited content that include, but are not limited to, are:

  • Any form of hate speech
  • Abusive, vulgar, offensive, or threatening language
  • Defamatory comments
  • Comments involving racism, sexism, ageism
  • Comments towards any religion, political affiliation, ethnicity, or specific individuals or groups
  • Spam and / or commercial advertisements

The Library is not responsible for any content posted by third parties on official Library social media sites. Public posts by third parties do not reflect the positions of the Library, its employees, or the Town of Manchester-by-the Sea. 

Approved: July 22, 2022

All Manchester-by-the Sea residents are eligible to receive a Library card. Children under 12 years of age must have a parent or guardian sign for them.

Patrons must be present to receive a card.

Patrons may have one card only. The first card is free. The Library charges $1.00 for replacement cards.

Members of the Manchester Public Library are automatically members of the Merrimack Valley Library Consortia (MVLC).

Your Manchester Public Library card can be registered with other public Library consortia throughout the state (reciprocal borrowing).

Legal residency is defined as “where you are registered to vote.”

Summer residents may use their Massachusetts hometown Library card, or may receive a Manchester Public Library card upon proof of residency.

Approved: 2001
Revised: August, 2006

The Manchester Public Library extends reciprocal borrowing privileges to all Massachusetts residents who present a public Library card from an accredited Massachusetts public library. Residents of a community that is part of the Merrimack Valley Library Consortium must have a hometown card. Other Massachusetts residents must have a public library card from their hometown library or regional system. Only public library cards are acceptable.

Approved: August, 2006

To ensure equal access for all residents to the Library collection, the Trustees establish the following circulation policies regarding borrowing periods, renewals, and limits on the collection. The Manchester Public Library, as a member of MVLC, makes every effort to establish policies that are in harmony with the consortia.

Loan periods:
* All books, periodicals, audiobooks, music 3 weeks 2 renewals
* Best Seller Book Collection 1 week no renewal
* Electronic games 3 weeks no renewal
* All DVDs, Play-away Views 1 week no renewal
* Hotspots Z917 model-1 week | T9-2 weeks no renewal; one per household
* Library of Things [item-specific circulation periods] Inquire
* Items on reserve cannot be renewed.
* Out-of-network items cannot be renewed.
* Renewals may be made in the Library, via the phone, or the patron’s online account

Limits:

Generally, there is no limit on books. The Library reserves the right to limit the number of books on a subject or by one author, due to high demand.

  • Audiovisual material and periodicals, limit of 6 per format per patron.
  • Electronic games, Play-away Views, limit of one per patron
  • Museum passes are limited to one pass per day per family
  • Reference and archival material are not loaned

Revised: July 19, 2012
Revised: August, 2006
Revised: February 3, 2022
Revised: July 22, 2022

As of September 2006, the Trustees voted to eliminate overdue fines.

To ensure the prompt return of checked out material, patrons must return all overdue material before he/she may check out additional material, including the public internet computers. Staff will renew overdue material when possible to ease constraints.

Library fees:

  • Lost or damaged materials, items returned incomplete: original cost
  • Lost museum pass: $20.00
  • Replacement Library card: $1.00
  • Computer printing: 10 cents per page, 25 cents color printing
  • Copy machine: 20 cents per page
  • Fax and scanning services: $1.00 for up to 5 pages, fax per phone number dialed; outgoing only

Approved: July 19, 2012
Revised: August, 2006
Revised: February 3, 2022

Patrons may place a reserve on a title that is currently checked out using the MVLC online catalog. The on-line catalog is available in the Library and from home via the internet. Borrower barcode is your Library card number. The PIN number is initially the last four digits of your phone number. When your book arrives at the Library you will receive a phone call, text message, or an email. You have seven days to pick up the item.

Library staff will help you place a reserve. Requests placed by the librarian are limited to three.

If the title you are looking for is not available in the MVLC on-line catalog, you may search the state-wide Commonwealth Catalog and place an interlibrary loan request directly. You will be notified by phone or email when the item arrives. Commonwealth Catalog requests placed by the librarian are limited to three active requests.

If the title you are seeking is not in either MVLC or the Commonwealth Catalog, you may make a request with the Reference Librarian to search outside Massachusetts. This service is limited to three active requests.

Revised: April 5, 2022

When a patron claims to have returned a book that is still on his/her record, Library staff will indicate “reported returned” on the patron account. The item status “reported returned” indicates that neither the Library nor the patron can account for the book. The patron is no longer responsible for the book unless it turns up at home. The book may just as easily turn up in the Library.

“Claims never had” is the status of a book on a patron record that the patron claims he/she never checked out. Library staff will change the item status to (NA) “missing.”

Revised: April 5, 2022

Cardholders are responsible for all lost and damaged material checked out on his/her Library account. Original cost of the item will be charged. In the case of damaged material, the patron may keep the item once paid for. Lost items, once paid for, cannot be refunded.

Items Returned Incomplete

If an item is returned incomplete, patron’s account will be blocked until the missing parts are returned. The patron will be notified to return all missing parts. If missing parts are not returned within three months of due date, then a non-refundable replacement cost shall be charged to the patron.

Lost Interlibrary Loan Items from Outside of the MVLC Network

Items borrowed for patrons from outside of the Merrimack Valley Library Consortium network that are lost will incur a $25 non-refundable, processing fee in addition to replacement costs charged by the owning Library. Fees and replacement costs are not refundable.

Parents/guardians of minor children, when signing the child’s patron registration application, agreed to be responsible for all material checked out by the minor child.

Patrons are responsible for lending their Library card to another person and for lending Library material to another person.

Report a lost card to the Library as soon as possible.

Approved: July 19, 2012

The Manchester Public Library provides home delivery and pick up of Library materials for Manchester residents who are homebound, either temporarily or permanently.

Delivery is restricted to town limits. Library staff may not enter patron’s residence.

Patrons seeking reference and reader’s advisory services are afforded the same right to privacy and confidentiality as provided for all Library accounts. Manchester Public Library’s goal is to provide the highest level of service to all patrons, with courteous and unbiased responses in a timely manner.

See the American Library Association Code of Ethics in VI) Appendix f.

  • Patrons in the Library requesting reference/readers’ advisory services have first priority from Library staff.
  • Phone patrons have second priority. Library staff will make every attempt to respond to phone reference questions by the end of the business day or first thing the next business day.
  • Mail and email reference inquiries are third priority. Twenty-four to seventy-two hours may be needed to respond to mail and email reference questions.
  • The Library does not have a genealogy collection. Genealogical research should be directed to the Manchester Historical Museum.

Manchester Public Library patrons may place holds within the MVLC Online Catalog and the Commonwealth Catalog directly for access to public and academic catalogs across the state. When asked, the library staff will assist patrons in finding and requesting the needed titles within these resources, and within the additional Interlibrary Loan resources Clio for out of network and out of state requests, and the Boston Public Library’s ILLiad for newspaper, periodical, and journal requests.

Revised: July 22, 2022

Manchester Public Library public-access computers are a valuable asset to the residents of Manchester and therefore permission to use them is given based on presentation of a valid Massachusetts public Library card, or, for out of state visitors, presentation of identification. Visitors under 12 without a Library card must have an adult with identification sign in for them.

Wi-Fi
The Library provides 24-hour complimentary wi-fi access for personal use in the Library or on the grounds. The wireless is not password protected, filtered, or secured. Patrons who use the Library’s internet do so at their own risk. There is no guarantee that a wireless connection can be made or maintained, and the library staff are not responsible for technical issues or support. Any patron who utilizes the Library’s wireless must comply with all other policies of the Library.

  • Patrons must sign in and out at the circulation desk. Printing is 10 cents per page b & w, 25 cents per page for color including pages printed in error. You are responsible for all print jobs.
    • Parents are solely responsible for supervision of content, safety, security, and access to minors.
    • Computer use is limited to one hour per day. You may continue use if no one is waiting. Priority will be given to patrons who have not yet used the computers this day.
    • Patrons are not allowed to save any files on Library computers.
    • No more than 2 persons may use one workstation at one time.
    • The Library does not take responsibility for any personal accounts accessed on public internet computers. When using pass-worded services, be sure to log off the service when finished. Users should be advised that because security is technically difficult to achieve in a public environment, electronic transactions and files could become public.
    • Library staff is not available for drop-in computer training. Training sessions are scheduled on an individual basis. Ask at the Reference desk. Reference assistance is available for electronic databases subscribed to by the Library.
    • Please do not attempt to reboot or make other adjustments to the computers or printers. Do not switch terminals when having a problem. Ask for assistance.
    • Do not attempt to download, upload or install additional programs to the computer. Not every internet program or email attachment is supported on Library computers.
    • The workstations will be shut down 15 minutes before the Library closes.
    • We regret that in the event of terminal downtime, maintenance, or Library programs, this service will not be available.
    • Whether using a Library computer or a personal laptop, patrons are expected to refrain from displaying graphics which are inappropriate for public viewing or playing audio that disturbs other patrons. Violations of the policies and regulations that govern the use of the Library’s computers and internet resources will result in suspension or loss of the privilege to use these resources. A patron will receive one verbal warning. The second offence will result in a 30-day suspension of internet privileges. A repeat offence will result in permanent loss of internet privileges.

Approved: August, 2006
Reviewed: November 2010
Revised: February 3, 2022
Revised: July 22, 2022

The Library offers free one-on-one computer training to the public on the following topics:

  • MVLC Online Catalog
  • Commonwealth Catalog
  • Downloading audiobooks
  • Internet
  • Email
  • Searching a topic
  • Electronic databases
  • General PC use

Please make a reservation at the Circulation Desk. 24-hour notice is required. There is a maximum of 2 workshops per patron per month.

Public Library roles include Community Activities Center and Independent Learning Center. In fulfilling our Mission Statement, the Library strives to be “a place of discovery and enrichment for all”. The programs we offer may occasionally disrupt the quiet environment or block access to some resources. While we regret any inconvenience, we must make the best use of our limited space in offering a wide variety of resources for all our patrons.

Revised: July 22, 2022

Quiet talking is allowed in the Circulation Hall, Reference Room, Children’s Room, and YA Teen Loft. The Reading Room and the stacks are considered quiet spaces. Book groups, Friends of the Library meetings, and other Library programs are regularly scheduled for the Reading Room. We regret any inconvenience in advance.

Revised: February 3, 2022

The Library offers outgoing fax and document scanning services to the public for a fee of $1.00 for one through five pages maximum. Library staff will assist users.

Approved: August, 2006
Revised: April 5, 2022

Article I: Name.

This body shall be called The Manchester-by-the-Sea Public Library Board of Trustees.

Article II: Members and Terms.

The Manchester-by-the-Sea Public Library Board of Trustees shall consist of three (3) members, nominated, and elected by the voters at large for a term of three (3) years. At least 1/3 of these members shall be elected each year.

Article III: Powers and Duties.

Section 1: The Manchester-by-the-Sea Public Library Board of Trustees shall have general charge of the town Library, its personnel, policies, inventory, and building.

Section 2: The Trustees shall appoint a Library Director and establish guidelines for the hiring of other personnel.

Section 3: The Trustees, together with the Selectmen, shall fill all vacancies which may occur in the Board of Trustees prior to the next annual meeting of the town.

Section 4: Duties as stated in the by-laws of the Town of Manchester-by-the-Sea

  • Article IX Records and Reports: All officers, boards and departments of the Town shall cause records of their doings and accounts to be kept in suitable books and shall also keep current inventories of all personal property under their control and current records of all personnel employed by them.
  • Article XIII Section 19 Department Budgets: Each department head shall make provisions in its annual budget for pay adjustments during the ensuing year. No adjustment shall be effective or paid unless, or until sufficient funds are available, therefore.

Article IV: Selection of Officers.

The Board of Trustees shall elect from among members a chairperson, secretary, and treasurer.

Article V: Duties of Officers.

The Chairperson shall call the meeting of the Board of Trustees and confer with the Library Director in preparing an agenda which shall include such old and new business as is appropriate.

The Secretary shall record the happenings and decisions made at each meeting and shall present the report to be read and approved by the Board at the following meeting.

The Treasurer shall keep the Board informed regarding Library Trust Funds and funds voted by the annual Town Meeting. This information is obtained from the Town Treasurer who administers the funds.

Article VI: Meetings.

The Manchester-by-the-Sea Public Library Board of Trustees shall meet monthly or as needed at a time and date mutually agreeable to all members.

Notice of all regularly scheduled meetings shall be posted with the Town Clerk at least 48 hours before each date.

Article VII: Quorum.

A quorum of two (2) members of the Board of Library Trustees shall be present in order to carry on the business of the Board.

Article VIII: Amendments.

These by-laws may be amended by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the Board.

Katherine Richardson
Lawrence Kirby
Suzanne Freeman Minturn
(August 1994, amending Feb. 1986)
(To be presented to an annual meeting of the Town for ratification as per Manchester Public Library By- laws dated May 21, 1884)

Article I: The name of the organization.

The name of this Association shall be: Friends of the Manchester Library, Inc.

Article II: Purpose and objectives.

The Friends of the Manchester Library, Inc. has as its purpose the promotion of interest, community awareness and use of the Public Library of Manchester, Massachusetts. All funds of the Association shall be devoted to enhancement of the Library, subject to the approval of the Board of Library Trustees. No part of said funds shall inure to any individual.

Article III: Powers.

This Association shall have all the powers permitted by law which are necessary for carrying out the purposes for which it was founded, including the right to own, lease, encumber, and sell real and personal property.

Article IV, Section 1 – Qualification of members/dues.

Membership shall be open to anyone interested in advancing the purposes of this Association.

Membership in the Friends of the Manchester Library shall consist of any dues- paying member.

Membership shall run for one year, from annual meeting to annual meeting. Annual dues for membership shall run from annual meeting to annual meeting.

Article IV, Section 2 – Fiscal Year.

The fiscal period of this Association shall be from April 1st to March 31st annually.

Article IV, Section 3 – Voting.

Each member shall have one vote. Issues requiring a vote to be taken at the annual meeting shall require a simple majority of voting members present to pass. Voice votes are acceptable unless a show of hands is specifically requested by a voting member, or unless a secret ballot is required.

Article IV, Section 4 – Annual Meeting.

The annual meeting of the membership shall be held by May 31st at a time and place determined by the executive committee.

Article V: Organization.

Article V, Section 1 – Officers/Members at Large and elections.

Article V, Section 1a – Officers and Members-at-large shall be nominated by a nominating committee appointed by the president. There shall be 3 members on the nominating committee, all of whom shall be voting members of this Association. The nominating committee, which may serve for no more than 3 years, shall present a slate of candidates for that year to the executive committee not less than 2 months prior to the annual meeting. After executive committee approval, the names of the candidates and the positions for which they are nominated shall be submitted to the membership at the annual meeting. Nominations made from the floor shall be accepted. Voting shall take place at the annual meeting.

  • Officers begin terms at the end of the annual meeting at which they are elected.
  • All officers shall be eligible voting members of the Association.
  • The officers of this Association shall consist of a president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer.
  • All officers shall be elected for a term of 2 years, and no officer shall serve in the same capacity for more than 4 consecutive years. An exception may be made in the case of the treasurer.

Article V, Section 1b – Officers’ responsibilities.

  • President: It shall be the duty of the president to preside at all regular meetings of the executive committee and the membership unless another officer is specifically designated. The president or designee shall be a liaison to the Library Board of Trustees.
  • Vice-president: The vice-president shall conduct meetings at the request of the president or in the president’s absence.
  • Secretary: The secretary, under the direction of the president, shall take notes at all meetings, maintain Association files, take care of correspondence, keep the calendar of meetings and handle press releases and public announcements.
  • Treasurer: The treasurer shall have the authority to sign checks, providing those above one thousand ($1,000.00) are countersigned by the president or any other officer. The treasurer shall be responsible for maintaining appropriate bank accounts and financial records for the Association and arrange for an annual audit of accounts.
  • Members-at-large: There shall be not less than 5 members-at-large. Term of service will be 2 years. No member shall serve in the same capacity for more than 4 years.

Article V, Section 2 – Executive Committee.

Article V, Section 2a – The executive committee shall conduct the business of this Association. The executive committee shall consist of the following officers and others:

  • President
  • Vice-president
  • Secretary
  • Treasurer
  • At least 5 members-at-large

The executive committee shall have the power to take any action deemed appropriate to carry on the affairs of this Association.

The annual dues shall be set by the executive committee before the date of the annual meeting.

Article V, Section 2b – The executive committee shall meet at least once every 3 months from September through May. A quorum shall be one half of the officers and members- at-large on the executive committee plus one. Special sessions of the executive committee may be called by the president. Notice must be given to all executive committee members at least 5 days in advance of a special meeting.

Regular meeting dates will be scheduled at the preceding meeting and notice must be given to all executive committee members at least 10 days in advance of the meeting.

Article V, Section 2c – In the event that an officer/member-at-large leaves town, or fails to attend 3 consecutive executive committee meetings, the executive committee may elect a replacement to serve until the next regular election.

Article V, Section 3 – Committees.

The president shall appoint committee chairs who may select people from the membership to serve on their committees. The committees may be created as needed.

Article VI: Rules of Order.

All meetings shall be conducted in accordance with the rules set forth in Robert’s Rles of Order (Revised), except when same shall conflict with the specific provisions of these by-laws.

Article VII: Amendments to the By-laws.

The by-laws of this Association may only be amended by a two-thirds vote of all members present and voting at the Annual Meeting, or any special meeting called expressly for that purpose, on at least five days written notice to all members specifying that amendments will be acted upon.

Adopted May 12, 2003

The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services.

  1. Books and other Library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the Library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.
  1. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
  1. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
  1. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.
  • A person’s right to use a Library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.
  • Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.

Adopted June 18, 1948, by the ALA Council; amended February 2, 1961; January 23, 1980; inclusion of “age” reaffirmed January 23, 1996.

“Library Bill of Rights.” American Library Association. As of October 12, 2021. https://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/Librarybill/

Revised: February 3, 2022

The freedom to read is essential to our democracy. It is continuously under attack. Private groups and public authorities in various parts of the country are working to remove or limit access to reading materials, to censor content in schools, to label “controversial” views, to distribute lists of “objectionable” books or authors, and to purge libraries. These actions apparently rise from a view that our national tradition of free expression is no longer valid; that censorship and suppression are needed to counter threats to safety or national security, as well as to avoid the subversion of politics and the corruption of morals. We, as individuals devoted to reading and as librarians and publishers responsible for disseminating ideas, wish to assert the public interest in the preservation of the freedom to read.

Most attempts at suppression rest on a denial of the fundamental premise of democracy: that the ordinary individual, by exercising critical judgment, will select the good and reject the bad. We trust Americans to recognize propaganda and misinformation, and to make their own decisions about what they read and believe. We do not believe they are prepared to sacrifice their heritage of a free press in order to be “protected” against what others think may be bad for them. We believe they still favor free enterprise in ideas and expression.

These efforts at suppression are related to a larger pattern of pressures being brought against education, the press, art and images, films, broadcast media, and the Internet. The problem is not only one of actual censorship. The shadow of fear cast by these pressures leads, we suspect, to an even larger voluntary curtailment of expression by those who seek to avoid controversy or unwelcome scrutiny by government officials.

Such pressure toward conformity is perhaps natural to a time of accelerated change. And yet suppression is never more dangerous than in such a time of social tension. Freedom has given the United States the elasticity to endure strain. Freedom keeps open the path of novel and creative solutions and enables change to come by choice. Every silencing of a heresy, every enforcement of an orthodoxy, diminishes the toughness and resilience of our society and leaves it the less able to deal with controversy and difference.

Now as always in our history, reading is among our greatest freedoms. The freedom to read and write is almost the only means for making generally available ideas or manners of expression that can initially command only a small audience. The written word is the natural medium for the new idea and the untried voice from which come the original contributions to social growth. It is essential to the extended discussion that serious thought requires, and to the accumulation of knowledge and ideas into organized collections.

We believe that free communication is essential to the preservation of a free society and a creative culture. We believe that these pressures toward conformity present the danger of limiting the range and variety of inquiry and expression on which our democracy and our culture depend. We believe that every American community must jealously guard the freedom to publish and to circulate, in order to preserve its own freedom to read. We believe that publishers and librarians have a profound responsibility to give validity to that freedom to read by making it possible for the readers to choose freely from a variety of offerings.

The freedom to read is guaranteed by the Constitution. Those with faith in free people will stand firm on these constitutional guarantees of essential rights and will exercise the responsibilities that accompany these rights.

We therefore affirm these propositions:

  • It is in the public interest for publishers and librarians to make available the widest diversity of views and expressions, including those that are unorthodox, unpopular, or considered dangerous by the majority.

Creative thought is by definition new, and what is new is different. The bearer of every new thought is a rebel until that idea is refined and tested. Totalitarian systems attempt to maintain themselves in power by the ruthless suppression of any concept that challenges the established orthodoxy. The power of a democratic system to adapt to change is vastly strengthened by the freedom of its citizens to choose widely from among conflicting opinions offered freely to them. To stifle every nonconformist idea at birth would mark the end of the democratic process.

Furthermore, only through the constant activity of weighing and selecting can the democratic mind attain the strength demanded by times like these. We need to know not only what we believe but why we believe it.

  • Publishers, librarians, and booksellers do not need to endorse every idea or presentation they make available. It would conflict with the public interest for them to establish their own political, moral, or aesthetic views as a standard for determining what should be published or circulated.

Publishers and librarians serve the educational process by helping to make available knowledge and ideas required for the growth of the mind and the increase of learning. They do not foster education by imposing as mentors the patterns of their own thought. The people should have the freedom to read and consider a broader range of ideas than those that may be held by any single librarian or publisher or government or church. It is wrong that what one can read should be confined to what another thinks proper.

  • It is contrary to the public interest for publishers or librarians to bar access to writings on the basis of the personal history or political affiliations of the author.

No art or literature can flourish if it is to be measured by the political views or private lives of its creators. No society of free people can flourish that draws up lists of writers to whom it will not listen, whatever they may have to say.

  • There is no place in our society for efforts to coerce the taste of others, to confine adults to the reading matter deemed suitable for adolescents, or to inhibit the efforts of writers to achieve artistic expression.

To some, much of modern expression is shocking. But is not much of life itself shocking? We cut off literature at the source if we prevent writers from dealing with the stuff of life. Parents and teachers have a responsibility to prepare the young to meet the diversity of experiences in life to which they will be exposed, as they have a responsibility to help them learn to think critically for themselves. These are affirmative responsibilities, not to be discharged simply by preventing them from reading works for which they are not yet prepared. In these matters values differ, and values cannot be legislated; nor can machinery be devised that will suit the demands of one group without limiting the freedom of others.

  • It is not in the public interest to force a reader to accept the prejudgment of a label characterizing any expression or its author as subversive or dangerous.

The ideal of labeling presupposes the existence of individuals or groups with wisdom to determine by authority what is good or bad for others. It presupposes that individuals must be directed in making up their minds about the ideas they examine. But Americans do not need others to do their thinking for them.

  • It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians, as guardians of the people’s freedom to read, to contest encroachments upon that freedom by individuals or groups seeking to impose their own standards or tastes upon the community at large; and by the government whenever it seeks to reduce or deny public access to public information.

It is inevitable in the give and take of the democratic process that the political, the moral, or the aesthetic concepts of an individual or group will occasionally collide with those of another individual or group. In a free society, individuals are free to determine for themselves what they wish to read, and each group is free to determine what it will recommend to its freely associated members. But no group has the right to take the law into its own hands, and to impose its own concept of politics or morality upon other members of a democratic society. Freedom is no freedom if it is accorded only to the accepted and the inoffensive. Further, democratic societies are more safe, free, and creative when the free flow of public information is not restricted by governmental prerogative or self-censorship.

  • It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians to give full meaning to the freedom to read by providing books that enrich the quality and diversity of thought and expression. By the exercise of this affirmative responsibility, they can demonstrate that the answer to a “bad” book is a good one, the answer to a “bad” idea is a good one.

The freedom to read is of little consequence when the reader cannot obtain matter fit for that reader’s purpose. What is needed is not only the absence of restraint, but the positive provision of opportunity for the people to read the best that has been thought and said. Books are the major channel by which the intellectual inheritance is handed down, and the principal means of its testing and growth. The defense of the freedom to read requires of all publishers and librarians the utmost of their faculties, and deserves of all Americans the fullest of their support.

We state these propositions neither lightly nor as easy generalizations. We here stake out a lofty claim for the value of the written word. We do so because we believe that it is possessed of enormous variety and usefulness, worthy of cherishing and keeping free. We realize that the application of these propositions may mean the dissemination of ideas and manners of expression that are repugnant to many persons. We do not state these propositions in the comfortable belief that what people read is unimportant. We believe rather that what people read is deeply important; that ideas can be dangerous; but that the suppression of ideas is fatal to a democratic society. Freedom itself is a dangerous way of life, but it is ours.

This statement was originally issued in May of 1953 by the Westchester Conference of the American Library Association and the American Book Publishers Council, which in 1970 consolidated with the American Educational Publishers Institute to become the Association of American Publishers.

Adopted June 25, 1953, by the ALA Council and the AAP Freedom to Read Committee; amended January 28, 1972; January 16, 1991; July 12, 2000; June 30, 2004.

“Freedom to Read Statement.” American Library Association as of October 12, 2021

A Joint Statement by:
American Library Association
Association of American Publishers

Subsequently endorsed by:
Bookweb.org/advocacy  
www.abffe.com
The Association of American University Presses, Inc.
The Children’s Book Council Freedom to Read Foundation
National Association of College Stores
National Coalition Against Censorship
National Council of Teachers of English
The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression

CHAPTER 78. LIBRARIES PUBLIC LIBRARIES

Chapter 78: Section 7. Establishment by cities and towns; records

Section 7. A town may establish and maintain public libraries for its inhabitants under regulations prescribed by the city council or by the town, and may receive, hold and manage any gift, bequest or devise, therefore. The city council of a city or the selectmen of a town may place in such Library the books, reports and laws which may be received from the commonwealth. That part of the records of a public Library which reveals the identity and intellectual pursuits of a person using such Library shall not be a public record as defined by clause Twenty-sixth of section seven of chapter four. Library authorities may disclose or exchange information relating to Library users for the purposes of inter-Library cooperation and coordination, including but not limited to, the purposes of facilitating the sharing of resources among Library jurisdictions as authorized by clause

(1) of section nineteen E or enforcing the provisions of sections ninety-nine and one hundred of chapter two hundred and sixty-six.

Chapter 78: Section 8. Use of facilities by non-residents

Section 8. Any free town public Library may loan its books or other Library material to any other such Library or to citizens of other towns or non-residents, under such written conditions and regulations as may be made by the board of trustees or other authority having control of the Library so loaning. Any town may raise money to pay the expenses of so borrowing books and other Library material from the Library of any other town.

Chapter 78: Section 10. Town libraries; selection of trustees and officers

Section 10. A town which raises or appropriates money for the support of a free public Library, or free public Library and reading room, owned by the town, shall, unless the same has been acquired entirely or in part through some gift or bequest which contains other conditions or provisions for the election of its trustees, or for its care and management, which have been accepted by the town, elect by ballot at a meeting a board of trustees consisting of any number of persons, male or female, divisible by three, which

the town determines to elect. When such board is first chosen, one third thereof shall be elected for one year, one third for two years and one third for three years, and thereafter one third shall be elected annually for a term of three years. The board shall, from its own number, annually choose a chairman and secretary and, if the town so votes, a treasurer, who shall give a bond similar to that given by the town treasurer, in an amount and with sureties to the satisfaction of the selectmen. Until the town otherwise directs the town treasurer shall act as treasurer of the board of trustees.

Chapter 78: Section 11. Board of trustees; powers and duties

Section 11. The board shall have the custody and management of the Library and reading room and of all property owned by the town relating thereto. All money raised or appropriated by the town for its support and maintenance shall be expended by the board, and all money or property which the town may receive by gift or bequest for said Library and reading room shall be administered by the board in accordance with the provisions of such gift or bequest. The board of any Library, for the purpose of improving the services of said Library, may enter into an agreement with the board or boards of any neighboring Library or libraries, to pay for services in common, or to manage a facility to be operated jointly by more than one municipality, such payments to be shared in accordance with terms of such agreement.

Chapter 78: Section 12. Annual report of trustees

Section 12. The board shall make an annual report to the town of its receipts and expenditures and of the property in its custody, with a statement of any unexpended balance of money and of any gifts or bequests which it holds in behalf of the town, with its recommendations.

Chapter 78: Section 13. Applicability of sections relating to trustees

Section 13. The three preceding sections shall not apply to Library associations, nor to a Library organized under a special act.

As members of the American Library Association, we recognize the importance of codifying and making known to the profession and to the general public the ethical principles that guide the work of librarians, other professionals providing information services, Library trustees and Library staffs.

Ethical dilemmas occur when values are in conflict. The American Library Association Code of Ethics states the values to which we are committed and embodies the ethical responsibilities of the profession in this changing information environment.

We significantly influence or control the selection, organization, preservation, and dissemination of information. In a political system grounded in an informed citizenry, we are members of a profession explicitly committed to intellectual freedom and the freedom of access to information. We have a special obligation to ensure the free flow of information and ideas to present and future generations.

The principles of this Code are expressed in broad statements to guide ethical decision making. These statements provide a framework; they cannot and do not dictate conduct to cover particular situations.

  • We provide the highest level of service to all Library users through appropriate and usefully organized resources; equitable service policies; equitable access; and accurate, unbiased, and courteous responses to all requests.
  • We uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and resist all efforts to censor Library resources.
  • We protect each Library user’s right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted.
  • We recognize and respect intellectual property rights.
  • We treat co-workers and other colleagues with respect, fairness and good faith, and advocate conditions of employment that safeguard the rights and welfare of all employees of our institutions.
  • We do not advance private interests at the expense of Library users, colleagues, or our employing institutions.
  • We distinguish between our personal convictions and professional duties and do not allow our personal beliefs to interfere with fair representation of the aims of our institutions or the provision of access to their information resources.
  • We strive for excellence in the profession by maintaining and enhancing our own knowledge and skills, by encouraging the professional development of co-workers, and by fostering the aspirations of potential members of the profession.
  • We affirm the inherent dignity and rights of every person. We work to recognize and dismantle systemic and individual biases; to confront inequity and oppression; to enhance diversity and inclusion; and to advance racial and social justice in our libraries, communities, profession, and associations through awareness, advocacy, education, collaboration, services, and allocation of resources and spaces.

Adopted June 29, 2021, by the ALA Council

“Code of Ethics.” American Library Association as of October 12, 2012

[Copy below is a placeholder until Trustees update this page March 2022]

A Library’s effectiveness is determined by its ability to meet the basic, primary service needs of its community. The planning process uses several methods to determine the effectiveness of basic Library service.

  • Analysis of eleven key elements essential to the provision of basic Library service.
  • Compliance with state minimum Library service standards.
  • Satisfaction of Library standards for children’s services established by the Massachusetts Library Association.
  • Ability to fill service roles to the extent required to meet community needs. Each method is described below:

Eleven Elements of Basic Library Service

The sole purpose of a public Library is to meet the Library needs of its community. Libraries differ in services, resources, and internal operations because their communities differ, but there are certain basic requirements essential to effective Library service in all communities.

The Small Library Planning Process has identified the Eleven Elements of Basic Library Service. Each element specifies certain conditions that libraries must satisfy in order to provide a minimum level of acceptable Library service.

The elements are summarized here with the findings in italics.

  • Suitable facilities. The location devoted to Library use is inviting, comfortable, user-oriented, up to building code standards for handicapped accessibility and large enough to accommodate collections, reader seating, and service.
  • Hours. Beyond complying with the requirements as specified in the State Minimum Standards for Library Service, libraries that strive to provide a schedule that allows residents to use the Library at times convenient for them will find that public use and support for the Library is increased.
  • Staff. Service to Library users is the first priority of a friendly, knowledgeable, and resourceful Library staff. Whether paid or volunteer, a skillful and responsive staff that can meet user needs is clearly an absolute necessity.
  • Materials. A current and useful, carefully developed collection is selected to meet the popular needs and interests of the community.
  • Written Policies. Policies defining Library operations, personnel management, collection development, and other important practices should be in writing and formally adopted by the Board.
  • Telephone. The Library offers a public service and is an information provider. Its services need to be accessible to the patrons by telephone as well as by personal visits. In addition, Library personnel should be able to telephone for support resources to which they are entitled from regional and state resources.
  • Informed and Supportive Trustees. Trustees are the governing authority responsible for municipal Library service. Primary functions of the trustees are establishing policy, securing adequate funding, employing qualified Library director, and evaluation of Library effectiveness in relation to community needs. In order to meet these challenging responsibilities, trustees must be dedicated Library supporters who are well informed about the community characteristics and needs as well as Library issues. Commitment to high quality Library service, coupled with courage, assertiveness, and persistence in advocating for its support are essential in all board members.

    Board members who possess these qualities will generate stronger, more effective Library service while earning respect of municipal officers, Library staff, and the public at large.
  • Adequate funding. An adequate budget is one that meets the particular needs of the community. It should support the level of staffing, collection development, and general operations required to meet the changing needs of a community. The Library budget must meet state guidelines for the Library to remain certified. Trustees are charged with the responsibility of securing adequate funding.
  • Publicity. An active public relations program advertises Library services, encourages Library use and support. Effective promotion of good services is essential to Library development.
  • Planning and Evaluation. An ongoing planning process based on data collected from the community, Library statistics and opinion polls insures that the Library services remain compatible with community needs.
  • Interlibrary Access Point. The local Library provides the members of its community access to the collections of state and national public libraries through resource sharing via membership in regional consortia.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts provides annual grants to public libraries that meet minimum standards and funding requirements contained in the Code of Massachusetts Regulations 605 CMR 4. The program is administered by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.

For libraries serving municipalities with populations between 5,000 and 9,999, these regulations are as follows:

  • Be open to all residents of the Commonwealth
  • Make no charge for normal Library service
  • Be open a minimum of 25 hours a week, including some evening hours
  • Employ a Library director who has a college degree with additional special training
  • Spend a minimum of 19% of the total annual budget on books and other materials
  • Extend borrowing privileges to holders of cards issued by other public libraries which comply with these requirements
  • Municipal appropriations for Library service that equal the average Library appropriation for the last three years plus 2 ½ percent
  • File the Annual Report Information Survey with the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners verifying the nonresident circulation transactions
  • File an application for Massachusetts State Aid to Public Libraries

These regulations specify minimal requirements. They are not indicators of effective Library service. They do define a base level below which effective service cannot be provided.

A third way to judge a Library’s ability to serve its community is to consider the quality of its services to children. The Standards for Public Library Service to Children in Massachusetts was developed by the Massachusetts Library Association in 1995 to guide libraries in an ongoing evaluation and development to children’s services. Among the requirements specified in the standards are the following:

  • Provision of a separate space for children’s services
  • Employment of a qualified librarian responsible for services to children
  • Development of a collection of diverse materials and various formats
  • Offer a variety of programs that excite children about literature and promote Library use
  • Children must have access on an equal basis with adults in regard to services and materials the Library provides
  • Publicize resources and services to children
  • Cooperate with other agencies serving children within the community
  • Allocate sufficient funding to accomplish the above

The services provided by public libraries may be categorized by role, i.e., by their function, purpose, and use. All viable small public libraries must fill four central roles to the extent needed in their community.

Role #1: Popular Materials Library. The Library concentrates on developing a collection of current, high demand, high interest materials in print and non-print formats for all ages.

Specific age groups may be targeted such as adults, young adults, and children. Although the primary focus may be recreational reading, viewing, and listening, this role includes the provision of non-fiction materials on topics that are popular locally, including current biography and travel. The Popular Materials Role may be augmented by regular borrowing from the supplementary collection of the regional Library system and interlibrary loan.

Role #2: Independent Learning Center. Individuals of all ages use the Library to obtain information and materials for self-directed learning, independent of any formal educational program or agency. Persons may pursue independent learning for personal or work-related reasons, including self-improvement, career or technical development, cultural interests, hobbies, family and home concerns, and citizen education. Local history, genealogy and community information are included in this role. Services provided may include assistance in the use of the Library and its resources, ready reference, and guidance in the development of a particular interest or hobby. Active use of regional reference and interlibrary loan service is necessary to fill this role.

Role #3: Formal Education Support Center. The Library provides materials (excluding school textbooks used in a school curriculum) and reference services to assist students in elementary and secondary schools, college, technical schools, and other formal education programs. The Formal Education Support Role focuses primarily on providing information and supplementing materials needed to complete class assignments, or support literacy, and similar programs. Service provided under this role relies partly on the use of the non-circulating reference collection containing such standard reference materials as dictionaries, encyclopedias, almanacs, directories, bibliographies, indexes, and handbooks. The Library maintains an up-to-date periodicals collection with emphasis on current issues in history, the social sciences, science, and technology. Reference service is provided onsite, by telephone, mail and email. Effectiveness in this role is dependent on:

1. the expertise of staff in accurately interpreting questions, in knowledge of the collection and the use of the reference collection,

2. active use of the regional reference and interlibrary loan services, and

3. relationships with day care services, local school system and other agencies serving children that help identify the Library needs of children. The requirement of official registration and formal course work distinguishes the Formal Education Support Role from the Independent Learning Role.

Role #4: Community Activities Center. The Library serves as a center for community activities by making Library materials, facilities, and equipment available to support the social, cultural, and recreational activities of community groups and by co-sponsoring events with other community organizations. Use of the Library for meetings and exhibits is encouraged including outreach activities, such as service to senior citizens homes and other institutions.