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All neighborhood libraries will be open 1PM - 6PM Wednesday, March 22, 2023.




Library Policies

The Houston Public Library adheres to these policies and rules to maintain a safe and welcoming environment for all.



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.

As of January 11, 2023 HPL is a fine free library! Please note that there are still fees associated with lost or damaged materials that are not returned to the library. For more information see the FAQ below.

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.

Your children are important, and we want them to have a rewarding library experience. Please be advised of our library policy, which states that children under the age of seven may not be left unattended at any time and children between the ages of seven and fourteen should not be left unattended and/or unsupervised for more than one hour or at closing time. The library is not equipped to serve as a daycare facility and cannot provide supervision for unattended children. If you leave your children at the library to do homework, attend a program or check out books, please be aware that proper behavior is important.

Children are not allowed to run, become loud and disruptive, use vulgar and inappropriate language, damage library property, become insulting to library staff or interfere with the use of the library by other customers. Should this happen, we will call you. If we are unable to reach you, appropriate law enforcement or child protective authorities will be notified to take custody of the child.

In accordance with our policy, children aged 15 or older may be asked to leave the building. For minors 17 and under, the City of Houston curfew 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. (City of Houston Ordinance, Chapter 28, Article 5, Section 28 171-175)

You can help us by explaining and expecting good behavior from your children. Make sure your child knows how to reach you and give them an emergency number as well. Children are our future and we want them to grow to be responsible adults. You play a key role and we need your support. Together, we will make sure that your child's library experience is a positive one with many good memories.

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.


  • Sunday, January 1, 2023
  • Monday, January 2, 2023


  • Sunday, January 15, 2023
  • Monday, January 16, 2023


  • Sunday, April 9, 2023


  • Sunday, May 28, 2023
  • Monday, May 29, 2023


  • Sunday, June 18, 2023
  • Monday, June 29, 2023


  • Tuesday, July 4, 2023


  • Sunday, September 3, 2023
  • Monday, September 4, 2023


  • Friday, November 10, 2023


  • Wednesday, November 22, 2023 - Early Closure – 6 PM
  • Thursday, November 23, 2023
  • Friday, November 24, 2023


  • Friday, December 22, 2023
  • Saturday, December 23, 2023
  • Sunday, December 24, 2023
  • Monday, December 25, 2023

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.