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Library Policies

The Houston Public Library adheres to these policies and rules to maintain a safe and welcoming environment for all. For more information, refer to our FAQ page and our Privacy, Accessibility, and Security statement

Borrower's Agreement

I accept responsibility for all materials charged to this card with or without my consent. I agree to observe all library rules; to promptly pay all charges; and to notify the library of any changes to this information.

I understand that all library materials, including books, audiovisual items, electronic databases and the Internet (World Wide Web), are available to all library users. I understand that I am responsible for my child's use of all library materials, including the Internet.

The Mobile Hotspot/device remains the Library’s property at all times. The Library may request that I return the Hotspot/device at any time. I will never loan out the Hotspot/device to other individuals, avoid damaging it, know where it is at all times and will not disassemble or attempt to repair it. If it is lost, stolen, or damaged, I agree to call or visit the Library to notify. I understand that the Library may choose not to replace or repair the Hotspot/device at its sole discretion. I agree to return the Hotspot/device (device, power cable, adapter and case) to the Library in the same good working condition as it was when checked out. I will only use the Library provided charger and that I am responsible for damage to device if wrong charger is used. I understand overdue fines and fees may apply if returned late, with missing items and/or damaged.

Library Rules
Library customers are expected to conduct themselves in a manner which shows respect for others and the library. See Notice for All Users.


  1. Short Term Suspension (1 Day – 90 Days)

    Customer(s) engaging in the following prohibited behavior will first be given a verbal warning and explanation of the rules and asked to comply. If the customer(s) continues to engage in the prohibited behavior, they may be given a short-term suspension. Additional repeated prohibited behavior can lead to long term suspension or indefinite suspension.

    First Offense - 1 Day Suspension

    Second Offense - 30 Days Suspension

    Third Offense - 90 Days Suspension

    1. Using furniture for any purpose other than for which it is intended.
    2. Smoking, vaping, or other tobacco use inside a library or on library premises. (See City of Houston Ordinances, Chapter 21, Article IX, Section 21-237)
    3. Eating and drinking except as permitted by Library policy. (See section D)
    4. Bringing in any animals, except animals assisting persons with disabilities as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
    5. Not wearing shoes or a shirt, or wearing clothing that exposes underwear or private body parts.
    6. Using Library restrooms for shaving, bathing or any purpose other than for which restrooms are intended.
    7. Taking library materials into restrooms
    8. Producing disruptive sounds including use of personal communications or entertainment devices.
    9. Selling/soliciting (approaching others with items for sale or asking for donations)
    10. Distributing or posting printed materials/literature not in accordance with library regulations.
    11. Spreading out personal belongings unrelated to the use of Library services or obstructing aisles, walkways, corridors, doorways, workspaces, or reading areas of library facilities. Unattended bags or other personal items represent a safety and security risk and may not be left on library property (See section E).
    12. Offensive bodily hygiene that constitutes a nuisance to others.
    13. Bringing in unfurled bedrolls, blankets, and sleeping bags and large items such as frame backpacks, suitcases, bicycles, or bags measuring more than three feet in length or height. A maximum of two bags of any type will be allowed. (See section E).
    14. Use of roller skates, scooters, skateboards, bicycles, or other similar devices in Library buildings.
    15. Adults in youth designated areas or programs when not accompanied by a child or teen. (See section G)
    16. Parking vehicle on library premises for purposes other than library use without approval.

    B. Long Term Suspension (180 days - Indefinite)

    Violation of the following rules will result in long term or indefinite suspension. An Indefinite Suspension is defined as “at all times” and can be for select or all Houston Public Library locations and property. The severity of an offense may result in Indefinite Systemwide Suspension.

    First Offense - 180 Days Suspension

    Second Offense - Indefinite Suspension from library location

    Third Offense - Indefinite Systemwide Suspension

    1. Use of abusive, harassing, or insulting language towards a staff person or another customer.
    2. Using or possessing alcohol or illegal drugs on library premises.
    3. Entering non-public or staff-only areas of the library premises without permission from authorized personnel and refusing to leave, staying in a library when requested to leave during emergency situations or drills, or remaining in a library after closing.
    4. Viewing material deemed to be obscene as defined in the Children’s Internet Protection Act and the Texas Penal Code. See CIPA FAQ for more information.
    5. Returning to library premises before a short-term suspension period has ended and refusing to leave.

    C. Indefinite Systemwide Suspension

    The following will result in an indefinite systemwide suspension from all Houston Public Library locations. The police must be contacted on all matters in the following categories if the situation warrants it.

    1. Acts that are subject to prosecution under criminal or civil codes of law.
    2. Use of threatening language towards a staff person or another customer.
    3. Possessing, using, or threatening to use an object in a manner that can be considered a weapon.
    4. Physical abuse and assault.
    5. Public lewdness, sexual activity, indecent exposure, or masturbation.
    6. Disorderly conduct or deliberate repeated behavior that is intimidating, hostile, offensive or adversely impacts customer peaceful use and enjoyment of Library premises, services, or programs, staff or volunteer work performance, and library operations.
    7. Intentional abuse or vandalism of library facilities, materials or equipment including depositing bodily fluids on library premises, property, collections, equipment, and furnishings.
    8. Damaging, destroying, or stealing library or personal property including tampering with security or safety devices. (See Section I).
    9. Unlawfully carrying a weapon. (See Texas Penal Code Title 10. Offenses Against Public Health, Safety, and Morals, Chapter 46. Weapons)
    10. Viewing material deemed to be child pornography or harmful to minors, as those terms are defined in the Children’s Internet Protection Act and the Texas Penal Code. See CIPA FAQ for more information.
    11. Returning to library premises before a long-term suspension period has ended and refusing to leave.
    12. Customers who receive a third indefinite suspension from any location will automatically receive a systemwide suspension.

    D. Food and Beverages

    The consumption of non-alcoholic beverages in covered containers is permitted at most Library locations except the Houston History Research Center, TECHLink, and The African American History Research Center. At the Family History Research Center at the Clayton Library Campus, non-alcoholic beverages in covered containers may be consumed only in designated areas. Food may be permitted in library facilities if there is a designated area. If the Library is designated an emergency shelter, the Library Director or designee may suspend these rules.

    E. Personal Belongings

    Houston Public Library has established guidelines for personal belongings brought into library facilities for the health and safety of Library customers and staff and to ensure unimpeded access to the library’s services and collections.

    1. The following items are prohibited in all library buildings:
      • Unfurled bedrolls, blankets, and sleeping bags
      • Large items such as frame backpacks, suitcases, or bags measuring more than three feet in length or width. A maximum of two bags of any type will be allowed.
      • Carts, wagons, bicycles or wheeled devices meant for carrying baggage, except wheelchairs or strollers when used to transport an adult or child.
    2. Roller skates, scooters, skateboards, bicycles, or other similar devices may not be used on Library premises
    3. Personal belongings should not obstruct aisles, walkways, corridors, doorways, workspaces, or reading areas of library facilities.
    4. Personal belongings may not be left unattended on library premises. Staff may dispose of unattended personal items if the owner cannot be identified, or items are not claimed. Refer to Lost and Found Policy.

    F. Photography and Videotaping in the Library
    1. Photography and videography that disrupts others’ peaceful enjoyment of the library is not allowed.
    2. Customers using the meeting room may take photos and video inside the meeting space. There should not be any library branding in the photos or video.
    3. Customers who would like to take professional photos or video inside the library need to be directed to HPL Communications and Spaces. No professional photo/video will be allowed without approval from HPL Communications.
    4. Photography/Videotaping by the Media may be permitted with advance approval from the HPL Communications Department.
    5. The Library reserves the right to document its services and the public’s use of the library. Official representatives of the library may take photographs, videotape, or use other recording devices within the library and at library related events, programs and activities for library purposes. When photography or recording by staff will take place, staff will either announce a warning about the photography and/or post a sign about photography in the area.  See Sign

    G. Adults in Youth Designated Areas

    Adults may use the children’s or teen area of the library only when accompanied by a child or teen using those areas. Unaccompanied adults who are retrieving materials for research or check out may not remain in the teen or children’s areas to review materials, but instead should take them to other areas of the library to review.

    1. The Library reserves the right to determine who can be in and remain in the children’s and teen areas of the Library and unaccompanied adults may be asked by staff to use the facilities, services, equipment in other areas of the library.
    2. Central Library: The public restrooms on the 4th floor of the Jesse H. Jones Building may be restricted for use by only the children and teens and their accompanying parent, guardian, or caregiver. Adults without children will be directed to use other public restrooms in the building. The public restrooms may be open to customers using the Program Place meeting room at the discretion of the director or designee.

    H. Reporting suspected abuse or neglect of children or adults
    1. Children: Texas is a mandatory reporting state so anyone who suspects that a child is being abused or neglected has a legal obligation to report it. Family Code Chapter 261.101
    2. Adults: Anyone who suspects that an adult is being abused, neglected or exploited should report it. Human Resources Code Chapter 48.051 Adult Protective Services investigates abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation for adults aged 65 or older and adults aged 18-65 with mental, physical, or developmental disabilities that substantially impair their ability to live independently or provide for their own self-care and protection. Abuse can include repeated caretaker neglect while on library property.
    3. Staff when reporting abuse should use the Texas Abuse/Neglect Hotline (1-800-252-5400) or online at

    I. Library Materials

    All library materials must be properly checked out. If library staff/security has reasonable individualized suspicion that a library customer is attempting to exit the Library with library materials that have not been checked out, the customer may be questioned. Theft of library materials is a serious offense and may result in permanent exclusion from all Houston Public Library facilities, resources and services, and/or arrest.

    J. Appeals Process

    The Customer Suspension Appeals Process is for any customer that has been issued a suspension and believes the suspension has been issued unfairly or in error as outlined in Exhibit 2.3 (3) . Customers must submit the Customer Suspension Appeal Form within ten (10) days from the date the suspension was issued.

    1. Customers may request to appeal their suspension through the online customer comment form, by phone (832-393-1313), by email, and by mail
    2. Once a request is submitted, the customer will be contacted and provided with Customer Suspension Appeal Form via mail or e-mail.
    3. The customer should provide relevant details about their suspension using the Customer Suspension Form. An appeal will not be considered without valid customer contact information.
    4. The information provided by the customer as part of the appeal will be reviewed by a panel. A panel is made up of a Manager or designee, a Senior Manager, and another representative from the Executive Leadership Team.
    5. The panel will inform the customer of their decision within 30 days of receiving the appeal in writing. The panel can overturn the original suspension and allow the customer to return to the library, reduce the length of the suspension, or uphold the suspension. The decision of the panel is final and cannot be appealed.
Non-resident Library Card
  • $40/year
  • Fee is waived for residents of the State of Texas

Replacement fee - item cost plus

  • Processing fee $10/item
  • Partial processing fee* $5/item
  • * Items requiring partial processing include uncatalogued paperbacks


  • Checkout Period: 3 Weeks
  • Replacement Fee: $1,500
  • Processing fee: $150

Document Delivery

  • $2/request + $1/page scanned or copied 'fee applies to obituaries or any document the library scans and delivers via e-mail or through the USPS. Special Collections fees may vary. Payment is due upon completion of the request.'

Miscellaneous Items

  • Non-refundable transaction fee for online credit card payments $0.50

Mobile Hotspots

  • Replacement fee if lost/damaged: $80 + $10 processing fee
  • Damaged case/charger/cord: $10 per item

This policy applies to all users of Houston Public Library computers or networks. In agreement with CIPA Regulations, all Library public access workstations use filtering software to access the Internet. Adults 18 or older who need unfiltered access for any lawful purpose may request it from a staff member. Unfiltered access will be granted on a per-search basis.


To fulfill our mission, Houston Public Library provides access to a broad range of information resources, including those available through the Internet. We make this service available as part of our mission to be the community’s place for learning, fun and adventure, access to innovative technology, creative solutions to information needs, and service excellence empowering personal and professional growth.

The Library only assumes responsibility for the information provided on the home page and the supporting web pages resident on this server. Houston Public Library has no control over the information accessed through the Internet, other than the content provided on the Library’s web site. Internet resources offer links to many valuable local, national, and international sources of information. However, not all sources on the Internet provide accurate, complete, or current information. A good information consumer evaluates the validity of all information found.

Supervision of a child's access to the Internet is ultimately the responsibility of the parent or guardian; the Library does not have the right or responsibility to act in loco parentis (on behalf of the parent/guardian). However, in accordance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA ~ Public Law 106-554), the Library does filter Internet access for both minors (persons under the age of 18) and adults to certain visual depictions that are (1) obscene (as defined in section 1460 of title 18, United States Code), or (2) child pornography (as defined in section 2256 of title 18, United States Code), or, with respect to use of computers with Internet access by minors, and (3) harmful to minors. Furthermore, all customers must abide by §43.22 and §43.24 of the Texas Penal Code, which prohibits the intentional or knowing display of such materials, while being reckless about whether a person, and especially a minor, is present who will be offended or alarmed by the display.

Responsibilities of Users & Rules Governing Use

Software has been loaded on most public access computers to provide internet usage in one-hour session increments. This software requires the user to log on to the computer using a bar code, either from their own Houston Public Library Card or a Computer Use Only Card supplied by the Library. There is no limit to the number of sessions per day allowed to a customer.

Computer users must respect the established time limit and honor any staff request to end their session.

Users may not

Circumvent filtering or blocking software, or other security measures to access visual depictions deemed (a) obscene, or (b) child pornography, or (c) harmful to minors, as defined in the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA ~ Public Law 106-554).

  • Circumvent public access computer time management software, or procedures.
  • Use the workstations or laptop devices to gain access to the Library's networks or computer systems or to any other network or computer system.
  • Obstruct other people's work by consuming large amounts of system resources or by deliberately crashing any Library computer system.
  • Attempt to damage computer equipment or software.
  • Attempt to alter software configurations.
  • Attempt to cause degradation of system performance.
  • Use any Library workstation for any illegal or criminal purpose.
  • Violate copyright laws or software licensing agreements in their use of Library workstations.
  • Engage in any activity that is deliberately and maliciously offensive, libelous, or slanderous.
  • Install or download any software.

Violations may result in loss of access. Staff is empowered to terminate or extend a user session if appropriate. Unlawful activities will be dealt with in an appropriate manner, including notification of law enforcement authorities.

Guidelines for Social Media Comments

Supervising Children’s Use

It is the Library's policy that parents or legal guardians must assume responsibility for deciding what resources (e.g., online catalog, web site search engine, subscription databases and electronic books, journals or articles) are appropriate for their children. There will be some resources that parents may feel are inappropriate for their children. Parents should let their children know if there are materials that they do not want them to use. Parents should supervise their child's Internet sessions.

In agreement with CIPA regulations, all Library public-access workstations use filtering software to access the Internet. No filtering software can control access to all materials that an individual may deem inappropriate. Houston Public Library does not guarantee the total effectiveness of technological protection measures such as filtering software.

Information on teaching children and teens to avoid the dangers that exist on the Internet can be found at NetSmartz. This site is sponsored by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Choosing and Evaluating Sources

The Internet is a global entity with a highly diverse user population and information content. Library customers use it at their own risk. The Library cannot protect users from materials they may find offensive. In choosing sources to link to our home page, we follow generally accepted library practices. Beyond this, we do not accept responsibility for content found in an Internet source. We are not responsible for changes in content of the sources to which we link, nor for the content of sources accessed through secondary links. As with printed information, not all sources on the Internet provide accurate, complete, or current information. Users should evaluate Internet sources just as they do printed publications, questioning the validity of the information provided.

Internet Functions Supported

The Library provides graphical browsers at all locations. The Library does not provide electronic mail accounts, Internet Relay Chat, or Newsgroups. Printing and downloading are available at all sites, although these services may not be available from all workstations.


U.S. copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code) prohibits the unauthorized reproduction or distribution of copyrighted materials, except as permitted by the principles of "fair use". Users may not copy or distribute electronic materials (including electronic mail, text, images, programs or data) without the explicit permission of the copyright holder. Any responsibility for any consequences of copyright infringement lies with the user; the Library expressly disclaims any liability or responsibility resulting from such use.

The Library expressly disclaims any liability or responsibility arising from access to or use of information obtained through its electronic information systems, or any consequences thereof.

Web site Comment Form

In accordance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA ~ Public Law 106-554), Houston Public Library does filter Internet access to certain visual depictions that are 1) obscene, or 2) child pornography, or 3) harmful to minors.

If you were unable to access a Web site and you do not believe the content of that Web site falls into the above-mentioned categories, or if you were able to access a web site that you feel does fall into one of the above-mentioned categories, please download the form so that our filtering software company may review the site in question.

Children are welcome at the Houston Public Library and their safety and welfare are a special concern. However, parents/guardians/caregivers are responsible for making sure that their children are always attended and supervised while using the library. The City of Houston curfew for minors under 17 is between the hours of 9 am - 2:30 pm on a weekday. The Houston Police Department or the Harris County Constable will be contacted when unaccompanied minors are in the library during this curfew time and parents/guardians/caregivers cannot be reached. (City of Houston Ordinance, Chapter 28, Article 5, Section 28 171-175).


  1. Ages of children
    1. Children six years old and under may not be left unattended and/or unsupervised at any time. A child six years old or under must be attended and supervised by someone at least fourteen years old or they will be considered unattended and/or unsupervised.

    2. Children between the ages of seven years old and fourteen years old should not be left unattended and/or unsupervised for more than one hour or at closing time. Children between the ages of seven years old and fourteen years old who are participating in a library program are considered attended. If children between the ages of seven and fourteen years old do not follow Library rules, staff will attempt to contact the parent/guardian/caregiver. If contact with the appropriate parent, guardian, or caregiver cannot be made, appropriate law enforcement or child protective authorities will be notified to take custody of the child.

    3. Children ages fifteen years old or older who do not follow library rules may be asked by the person in charge or the security guard to leave the building as appropriate.

Adapted from City of Houston Executive Order 1-18, Section 7, Policy on Use of Social Media: Design and Content of City Social Media Sites

Purpose for Staff: These guidelines have been developed for Houston Public Library staff who have been approved to post on or develop content for a Library-approved social networking site, including, but not limited to, Facebook, Twitter, or blogs. These guidelines should also be used by staff who represent themselves as employees of Houston Public Library when posting or commenting on other accounts and sites.

Purpose for the Public: Additionally, these guidelines are intended for customers and members of the general public who post and comment on one of the Houston Public Library approved social networking technology tools.

The Houston Public Library is an organization whose staff and customers reflect a diverse set of customs, values and points of view. The Library encourages lively discussion by all individuals in a respectful manner. Comments on a Houston Public Library social networking technology tool should be relevant to the post to which they are attached. Please see sections 7.5.1 and 7.5.2 of the City of Houston social media policy below. Comments must also meet the approved criteria below:

  • Content does not include racial, ethnic, or gender slurs.
  • Content does not include personal insults or obscenities.
  • Content reflects consideration for the privacy for all persons and businesses. Specifically, content should not include text or links providing personal information (e.g., phone numbers or addresses).
  • Content should be limited to the topic of the posting and must not contain new topics that are considered objectionable or inflammatory.
  • Content is not plagiarized or copyright-protected material. Links to an author’s work can be included in the blog.
  • Content is not a commercial promotion that advertises businesses, products or services.
  • Content does not include text or links that primarily contain inaccurate factual information.
  • Content does not disparage other participants who may offer opposing viewpoints.

Should any content fail to meet the above criteria, Houston Public Library reserves the right to edit, remove, or deny the offending post or comment.

Please Note: Comments are moderated from 8 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday, excluding HPL holidays.

If you have any questions or concerns about these guidelines, please feel free to contact us.

7.5.1 Comments. The purpose of this site is to present matters of public interest in the City of Houston, Texas. We encourage you to submit comments, but please note that this is not a public forum.

7.5.2 Comments posted to this page will be monitored. The City reserves the right to delete comments that: contain false information, obscene language or sexual content, threaten or defame any person or organization, support or oppose political candidates, political organizations or ballot propositions, promote illegal activity, commercial services or products, infringe on copyrights or trademarks or are not topically related to the particular posting.


  • Monday, January 1, 2024


  • Saturday, January 13, 2024
  • Sunday, January 14, 2024
  • Monday, January 15, 2024


  • Saturday, March 30, 2024
  • Sunday, March 31, 2024


  • Saturday, May 25, 2024
  • Sunday, May 26, 2024
  • Monday, May 27, 2024


  • Tuesday, June 18, 2024 - Early Closure – 6 PM
  • Wednesday, June 19, 2024


  • Wednesday, July 3, 2024 - Early Closure – 6 PM
  • Thursday, July 4, 2024


  • Saturday, August 31, 2024
  • Sunday, September 1, 2024
  • Monday, September 2, 2024


  • Sunday, November 10, 2024
  • Monday, November 11, 2024


  • Wednesday, November 27, 2024 - Early Closure – 6 PM
  • Thursday, November 28, 2024
  • Friday, November 29, 2024
  • Saturday, November 30, 2024


  • Monday, December 23, 2024 - Early Closure – 6 PM
  • Tuesday, December 24, 2024
  • Wednesday, December 25, 2024


  • Tuesday, December 31, 2024 - Early Closure – 6 PM

4.1 Purpose, Goals, and Responsibility


The mission of the Houston Public Library is to offer a broadly defined program of informational, educational, recreational and cultural enrichment opportunities for Houstonians of all ages and educational, cultural, and economic backgrounds. The fulfillment of this mission requires a collection of considerable scope and variety. This policy is intended to provide guidance for librarians in their role as selectors and to inform the public about the principles upon which decisions are made.

Selection Goals

The Houston Public Library attempts to provide a large and stimulating collection of materials, in a variety of formats, responsive to community needs. The Library strives to make available materials reflecting the needs of all residents of the City of Houston including individuals of various cultural, ethnic, religious and philosophical groups; of differing educational levels; of differing sexual orientation; of differing gender identities; the disabled; the English-speaking; and the non-English-speaking.

The Houston Public Library maintains strong collections in the areas of Houston interest, award- winning literature, historically significant works, folklore and fairytales.

Responsibility for Selection

Final responsibility and authority for materials selection rests with the Director of Libraries who operates within the policies of the Library Board and the City of Houston.

The Collection Development Department oversees the development and maintenance of the collection including monitoring the budget, recommending collection policies, and approving materials added and deselected.

4.2 Collections

Central Library

Central Library collections offer general interest materials on a variety of subjects to support the needs of the neighborhoods served. Because this collection floats system wide, the collection shares a common core of titles including popular and classic books, high-demand magazines, and basic reference sources. More in-depth reference resources are purchased specifically for the Central Library collection to ensure that a broad overall collection of information remains available for library customers. Central houses the Stacks collection, which is a more specialized, often unique and hard to find, collection of circulating fiction and non-fiction titles.

Neighborhood Libraries

Neighborhood Library collections offer general interest materials on a variety of subjects to support the needs of the neighborhoods served. Because these collections float system wide, the collection shares a common core of titles including popular and classic books, high-demand magazines, and basic reference sources. Beyond this core, collections vary considerably from branch to branch depending on the size of the agency and community needs. Branches of any size may develop collection strength in particular languages.

Special Collections

The Library maintains several research collections of a specialized nature, including:

  • Houston Metropolitan Research Center (HMRC), Texas and Local History & Archives
  • Clayton Library, Center for Genealogical Research
  • The African American Library at the Gregory School

These unique collections are intended for research into specialized topics; selection of materials for these collections is not subject to all of the criteria established elsewhere in the policy for the Library’s general collections.

Government Documents

As a selective depository library for U.S. government document publications, the Library maintains an online collection of government documents in accordance with the standards laid down by the Superintendent of Documents of the United States.

4.3 Selection Criteria

The evaluation of materials is characterized by flexibility, open-mindedness, and responsiveness to the changing needs of the residents of Houston. The following are among the most important general criteria:

1. Relevance to community needs.

2. Suitability of subject, style, and reading level for intended audience.

3. Insight into human and social conditions.

4. Reputation and/or significance of author.

5. Demand for the material.

6. Reviews in professional media and by staff members.

7. Reputation of the publisher or producer.

8. Availability and accessibility of materials in the collection on the same subject.

9. Clarity, accuracy, and logic of presentation.

10.Suitability of format for library use.

An item need not meet all criteria to be added to the collection, nor will an item meeting any of these criteria automatically be added to the collection. Some titles may be judged primarily in terms of artistic merit, scholarship, information content, or value as human documents. Others are chosen chiefly on the basis of significant customer demand.

All materials are evaluated with regard to racism, sexism, ageism, and other stereotypes. Ordinarily, materials containing objectionable words, illustrations, or phrases are not suited to a collection for children but may be accepted if the overall quality is of high merit.

Although the Library will not purchase sufficient copies of titles for classroom use, the Library has a strong commitment to provide a variety of supplemental materials in support of classroom assignments.

Electronic Resources

For the purpose of this policy, the term electronic resources includes, but is not limited to, subscription databases, Internet websites and downloadable and streaming media such as e-books, e-audiobooks, e-video and e-music.

Electronic resources are selected according to the criteria used to select other, more traditional media. However, due to their different format, electronic resources are also evaluated as to frequency of update, ease of navigation, degree of commercial orientation, purpose of the resource, reputation of provider and hardware and/or software requirements. The Library links to web sites that are selected based upon audience level. Adult resources are limited to sites which are expected to be of frequent reference use. Sites for younger children may be educational or recreational. The Library will review such sites and databases on a regular basis to assess their continued value to library 2019 rev. 2022 4 customers.

Access to an electronic resource is not the same as ownership of a physical item. The Library cannot control the content of the databases to which it subscribes or that of the web sites to which it links, whether directly or indirectly. Since the Internet is constantly changing, access to these sites and databases is provided by the Library with the understanding that their content or format may have changed after selection, and thus may no longer conform to the Library’s selection criteria. The Library will review such sites and databases on a regular basis to assess their continued value to library customers.

Intellectual Freedom

The Library will attempt to select materials that represent a range of viewpoints and will do its best to exercise impartiality in selection decisions. The collection will represent as many sides of controversial issues as budget, space, and availability of materials will allow. Selection will be based on criteria given throughout this policy. The race, religion, nationality, gender identity/sexual orientation or political views of an author, the frankness or coarseness of language, the controversial content of an item or the endorsement or approval of an individual or group in the community will not automatically cause an item to be included or excluded. Materials are evaluated as a whole and not on the basis of a particular passage or illustration.

The Library recognizes that some items are controversial and that any given title may offend some library customers. Thus, some customers may seek out a particular title while others may quite legitimately find this same title inappropriate for themselves. The same principle applies in the selection of materials which are read, viewed, or listened to by minors. The Library does not have the right or responsibility to serve in loco parentis. Responsibility for the reading, viewing, or listening of minors rests with the parents or legal guardians. Selection of adult or teen materials will not be inhibited by the possibility that materials may inadvertently come into the possession of children.

The Houston Public Library supports intellectual freedom and endorses the concepts embodied in the Freedom to Read statement, the Freedom to View statement, and the Library Bill of Rights issued by the American Library Association (Appendix A).


Materials: Houston Public Library accepts gifts of books and other materials with the understanding that items added to the collection must meet the same criteria as purchased materials. The Library retains the authority to accept or reject gifts, and to make all decisions as to their use, housing, and final disposition. All gift titles added to the collection must be approved by the Collection Development 2019 rev. 2022 5 Department. Library staff does not appraise gift materials for tax purposes.

Cash: The Houston Public Library Foundation accepts cash gifts for the purchase of books and other materials. Donors may suggest subjects or titles, but gift purchases must meet the same criteria as other materials added to Library collections. The donor may suggest the recipient agency, but the Library retains the authority to make all decisions as to the selections and placement of materials purchased with gift funds. All materials selected for purchase with gift funds must be approved by the Collection Development Department. The Library retains the authority to accept or to reject cash gifts depending on any restrictions or special conditions imposed by the donor.

Local Authors: Gifts of print materials by local authors(authors from the nine county Houston Metropolitan Area to include Harris County, Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, Brazoria County, Galveston County, Liberty County, Waller County, Chambers County and Austin County) will be considered for addition to the local author shelf housed at the Central Library.

4.4 Collection Management

Collection and/or Community Analysis

The Collection Development Department will utilize demographic and other statistical information to assist with the selection of materials. Usage data across all formats, languages, and audience levels will drive collection decisions.

Management Issues

The collection is regularly reviewed for weeding, transfers, binding, and repairs to ensure that holdings are timely and inviting to library customers. No item shall be withdrawn from the collection or transferred from one agency to another or sent to the bindery without the approval of the Collection Development Department (or designee). The Collection Development Department shall determine the criteria for an item to be included in the Central Stacks collection. Only the Collection Development Department (or designee) may authorize the provisional acquisition of materials for the purpose of review and evaluation with the understanding that such materials may subsequently be purchased by the Library.

4.5 Selection by Levels

The Collection Development librarians in the Library Materials Services (LMS) division, with the assistance of the system’s librarians, oversee the review, selection, and placement of materials at all age levels. The collection of materials fills the recreational, informational, and educational needs of a wide range of library customers whose reading levels vary greatly. These needs are met by materials in various formats in English, Spanish, and other languages in the following audience levels:

Adult Materials

The Houston Public Library recognizes that customers from high school students through all stages of adulthood have unique recreational, informational and educational needs. Materials are purchased for the Adult collection with this in mind.

Teen Materials

The Houston Public Library recognizes that teenagers or young adults from the ages of 12 to 18 are library customers with unique recreational, informational, and educational needs. Materials are purchased for the Young Adult collection with this in mind.

Juvenile Materials

The juvenile collection includes items for children from infancy through age 14. Special attention must be paid to such factors as quality of illustrations, suitability of format, reading level, and general appeal.

4.6 Reconsideration of Library Materials

The Library will review selection of a specific item upon request of a member of the community. The form “Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials” is available on the Library Intranet. The Library Director (or designee), in consultation with the head of the Library Materials Services Division and other appropriate staff, will review the request in light of the criteria delineated in this policy. A reply will be sent promptly to the person or organization making the request. If the individual is not satisfied with the action taken, he or she may appeal to the Library Board.

4.7 Review

This policy will be reviewed periodically to ensure that it is responsive to changing needs of the Library System and of the general community.