[Libs-Or] Responses - Policies for advocacy, signature gathering, etc.?

Carol Dinges cdinges at ci.lebanon.or.us
Thu Jun 9 10:42:51 PDT 2016


Here are responses to my request for examples of policies regarding solicitation, advocacy, signature gathering, etc. -

We allow it, but as a limited public forum we regulate manner and place.

The applicable MCL behavior rule prohibits:
Soliciting, petitioning, or distributing written materials or canvassing for political, charitable or religious purposes inside a library building, including the doorway or vestibule of any such library building or in a manner on the library premises that unreasonably interferes with or impedes access to the library.

We've have an internal policy, which staff can show/give to patrons, that has more details, including the "place(s)" at our buildings and those leased locations where the property owner allows it.

Internal policy:
Providing opportunity for political petitioning is part of the library's function as a limited public forum, and supports our mission to uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and the public's right to know by providing people of all ages with access and guidance to information  and collections that reflect all points of view

The library will allow signature gathering on petitions so long as it does not interfere with library operations.

Each library location will have designated areas where petitioners may stand without interfering with library operations. Petitioners who are attempting to gather signatures in other locations on library property will be asked to move to the designated location. Failure to comply with such a request violates rule No. 8 of the Behavior Rules<https://multcolib.org/policies-manuals/behavior-rules-governing-use-multnomah-county-library>: "Disobeying the reasonable direction of a library staff member or library security officer."
Petitioners interfere with library operations when they:

  *   Attempt to gather signatures inside library buildings, including vestibules.
  *   Restrict the ability of patrons to enter or leave a library building.
  *   Restrict access to or block an exterior bookdrop.
  *   Restrict access to or block library driveways or parking spaces.
  *   Refuse to limit their activities to locations designated for petitioning.
  *   Violate any of the Library's behavior rules while on library premises.
Any violations will be handled based upon conditions specified in the library's Behavior Rules<https://multcolib.org/policies-manuals/behavior-rules-governing-use-multnomah-county-library>.
The library does not attempt to restrict signature gathering on public sidewalks or rights of way.

An example of a "designated location" description:
To the left of the parking lot (north) side entrance doors (as you face them). Can accommodate 3 petitioners. They cannot block the bench or bike rack. To the left or right of the Miller Ave. (east) side entrance doors (as you face them).

We generally don't allow soliciting for things like money, and the City of Portland has ordinances that actually prohibit things like girl scout cookie sales on library premises.

Carol, our City Attorney says that they can collect signatures anywhere on public property - not inside buildings - as long as they don't interfere with people entering or leaving our buildings.   We used to tell petition gatherers that they had to stay on the sidewalk by the street, but our CA changed that.  That's the policy all city departments follow.

Carol--Multnomah County Library addresses petitioning, canvassing, etc inside  our buildings in our behavior rules<https://multcolib.org/policies-manuals/behavior-rules-governing-use-multnomah-county-library>, prohibiting:
"Soliciting, petitioning, or distributing written materials or canvassing for political, charitable or religious purposes inside a library building, including the doorway or vestibule of any such library building or in a manner on the library premises that unreasonably interferes with or impedes access to the library."

As you can see, the rule also addresses petitioners blocking access to the building.

Each of our buildings has  a designated space where petitioners may stand out of the way of the door where they will not impede access.

Keep in mind that if you have a public meeting room generally available to community groups you cannot disallow political activity in that meeting room. The courts have been clear that public libraries must allow political and religious use of their meeting rooms, since we establish a limited public forum when we make public meeting rooms available.   But at MCL we do have a rule that prevents outside groups using our meeting rooms from collecting contact information or money from attendees during a public meeting or requiring them to provide personal info in order to register for a meeting in our meeting rooms.  Here's a link to our meeting room use policy<https://multcolib.org/public-meeting-rooms>.


In our Code of Conduct, we say that, while on library property, "Do not solicit or advocate for any purposes except in designated areas." Our designated areas are the meeting room, public bulletin boards, public sidewalks, and gardens/park space.



Thanks so much to everyone who responded -
Carol

Carol Dinges
Director
Lebanon Public Library
55 Academy St.
Lebanon, OR 97355
(541) 258-4232

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