Library Policies

Collections & Lending Policies

The Reading Public Library lends items to all public library card holders with library cards in good standing (i.e. no billed items).  However, certain collections and online resources are limited to Reading residents.

Borrowing Periods:*
  • New adult fiction & nonfiction: 14 days
  • Express books: 7 days, Express DVDs: 3 days (no renewals)
  • Telescope, DVDs, CDs: 7 days
  • Books, Magazines, Audiobooks, Videogames: 14 days
  • Library of Things: 14 days
  • Museum passes:1 day (no renewals)
  • Laptops, tablets, and “In Library Use” equipment*: 2 hours per day

* Special arrangements may be made by request. Extended loans are also available to Reading teachers and for school or special projects.

Media Privileges & Special Collections

To allow everyone to have access to our materials we limit:

  • Video Games: 2 per family
  • CDs or DVDs: 20 per family
  • Adult Library of Things: 1 per family
  • Children’s Library of Things: 2 per family

To protect our special collections, the library reserves the right to refuse service to anyone who abuses the equipment, or is repeatedly late in returning equipment.

Library of Things: Borrower must read and sign equipment agreement.
Laptops, Tablets, and “In Library Use” Equipment:

  • Borrower must read and sign equipment agreement.
  • Borrower must be high school age or over.
  • Laptops and similar equipment may be used ONLY in the library.


Unless otherwise noted, renewals may be done in person, by telephone or online. All materials from Reading or other NOBLE libraries may be renewed twice except those with waiting lists. Materials from non-NOBLE libraries may not be renewed. See a list of NOBLE libraries here. Autorenewals will be applied to all eligible items. Autorenewal uses an automated process to identify and renew items that are eligible for renewal. Autorenewal applies only to items that belong to the Reading Public Library, not for network transfers.

Restriction of Borrowing Privileges

Borrowing materials is unrestricted unless the patron has overdue items with bill status. The bill status (as established by the automated system) is firm, and unless there is compelling reason to act otherwise, delinquent patrons will be unable to check-out any library materials until their record is cleared.

Lost cards

Lost library cards may be replaced for a small fee when all outstanding materials are returned.

Overdue, Lost, or Damaged Materials

The Reading Public Library does not charge overdue fines excepting:

  • Express materials: $0.25/day
  • Library of Things: $5.00/day
  • Laptops, Tablets: $5.00/hour or full replacement cost after 1 day


Patrons must pay replacement cost of lost materials. Replacement costs vary. A new copy of certain items may be accepted in lieu of payment. Speak to a staff member for more information.

Approved: 8/14/17, Amended: 10/15/19

Many library users reserve items and then ask another person to pick them up when they become available. In order to protect the privacy and confidentiality of all our customers who reserve items we require that:

  • The person checking out items that are on reserve has the library card of the person for whom the reserves were placed.
  • OR that the person who placed the reserves has given authority to the person picking up the items by registering him or her at the Borrower Services Desk. This will be indicated by a “note” in the “message field” of the borrower’s record.

If the person picking up the items does not have the borrower’s library card or authority as denoted in the borrower’s record, the person will not be allowed to pick up the items. The items will be held for pick-up at the Circulation Desk for additional time as determined by the Circulation technician and in accordance with the lending library’s policy.

Approved: December 2003


The Reading Public Library offers a wide variety of services to meet the educational and recreational needs of children, young adults, and those who work with them. Unlike a school library, the Reading Public Library does not attempt to collect curriculum-related materials unless those materials are of interest to the general public. Rather, the Reading Public Library seeks to complement the materials offered in a school library. Teachers who wish to enhance their students’ access to library materials are encouraged to take advantage of the special borrowing privileges offered to them.

Only materials for use in the classroom or in support of the classroom are eligible to be checked out on a teacher card. As a professional courtesy, teachers are requested to notify a children’s librarian or a reference librarian if they wish to take more than three books on any one topic. This will ensure that sufficient materials are left for the general public.


All teachers of Reading public or private schools are eligible for special teacher cards if their school has formally agreed to pay for any lost or damaged materials. Teachers who change schools must update their card to reflect their current position. Teacher Card Authorization forms, signed by principals, are on file in the Administration Office.

Library Cards

Teachers may get cards at either Children’s or Circulation desks. Each teacher will be issued his/her own card.

Loan Period

Library materials are checked out for 8 weeks.


Due to the 8 week loan period, renewals will be made on an exceptional basis.

Overdue Notices

Notices will be sent to teachers as a reminder of outstanding library materials. Bills will be sent to principals. In May, bills will be issued for any outstanding charges. Teachers are requested to check with the Library about outstanding items in June, before the end of school. In the fall, the Library will notify teachers of any items left over from the previous year.


There are no fines on overdue materials.


The school is responsible for replacement cost of lost or damaged materials.


Adopted 2/27/89 Revisions Approved: 6-19-95

In order for a public library to be certified in Massachusetts it must meet certain minimum standards of funding and service mandated by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. A public library that does not meet the minimum standards is “decertified” by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners and is not eligible to receive state aid funding, apply for or receive LSTA grant funds, or enter into any contracts with the region to provide supplemental services.

Massachusetts General Laws (605 CMR 4.01) state that certified public libraries are not required to loan materials to residents of municipalities with decertified libraries.

This policy aims to address the issue of the fair and appropriate use of Reading tax dollars spent on public library service by limiting the reliance of a municipality with a decertified library on the Reading Public Library and its resources.

The Reading Public Library upholds the importance of maintaining at least the minimum standards of public library service required for public library certification by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners and therefore will not loan materials to residents of municipalities with decertified libraries.

Public libraries that receive a waiver from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners are considered certified. Residents of municipalities in which the library has received a waiver will be permitted to borrow materials.

As stated in the Massachusetts General Laws (605 CMR 4.01), “all residents of the Commonwealth shall have access to reading and reference rooms under the same conditions as residents of the community.” The Reading Public Library welcomes residents of all municipalities. However, residents of municipalities with decertified libraries are only able to use library resources within the bounds of the library building.

Approved: 08/02

General Library Use

The purpose of this policy is to establish the rights and responsibilities of all people who use and work at the Reading Public Library, and to ensure a comfortable, safe environment with full and equal access to all Library programs and services. Everyone who uses our facilities or seeks our assistance should receive impartial, high quality, and friendly service. The Library supports the needs and contributions of all people regardless of any distinguishing characteristics that all too often divide people in society whether explicitly protected by law or not.

Patron Rights

The Reading Public Library supports the rights of all individuals to:

  • Receive friendly, courteous, and respectful service;
  • Have free and equal access to information;
  • Expect privacy and the confidentiality of the information that is shared with the Library when using our web site or other library services;
  • Have a clean, comfortable, and pleasant environment;
  • Use the Library without discrimination;
  • Use the Library undisturbed without threat of harm, invasion of property, or interference.

Patron Responsibilities

The patron has the responsibility to follow all public health, safety and fire regulations, and other policies designed for the public good, which include refraining from:

  • Smoking, vaping, chewing tobacco, or ingesting hallucinogenic substances inside or within 50 feet outside of the building.
  • Blocking sidewalks, entries, and passageways.
  • Running or roughhousing in the building.
  • Having bare feet in the building.
  • Using skateboards, hover boards, rollerblades, scooters or similar inside the building.
  • Defacing or improperly removing Library materials, furnishings, or equipment.
  • Eating or drinking in the History Room or any location determined and clearly marked by the staff for programming or Library service purposes.
  • Littering: patrons must dispose of trash, wrappers, and empty containers in trash and recycling bins.
  • Entering staff only or other restricted areas.
  • Leaving unaccompanied children under the age of 9. (see Reading Public Library Safe Child Policy).
  • Bringing in animals or pets except for properly leashed and trained service animals.

General Library Use

To ensure individuals’ right to use the Library free of disruption, Library patrons and staff will refrain from disrespectful, dangerous, destructive or illegal conduct, including but not limited to the following behaviors:

  • Verbally or physically harassing, threatening, or bullying any staff member or patron, or displaying unwanted attention toward another person;
  • Loitering or soliciting on Library property;
  • Carrying a weapon or a facsimile of a weapon;
  • Fighting, physical abuse, assault or perpetrating physical violence against another person;
  • Making violent or threatening statements to others;
  • Engaging in intimidating or harassing behaviors, including following or stalking other patrons or Library staff;
  • Refusing to follow reasonable direction from Library staff, including but not limited to leaving the Library during normal closing procedures or following a suspension of Library privileges;
  • Damaging, destroying, stealing, or otherwise vandalizing Library property;
  • Using audible functions on equipment (such as cell phones, computers, and hand-held electronics) is prohibited except in designated areas clearly marked by the staff. All cell phone conversations should be in low tones and kept brief;
  • Shouting, pushing, hitting, throwing things, and other boisterous conduct is prohibited;
  • Talking in the sections of the Library reserved for quiet study.

Many patrons use the Library as a place for quiet study or reading. Patrons and staff should respect the rights of others and not engage in loud conversations or noisy activities. The following noise zones have been established.
Each zone has an acceptable noise level:

  • Children’s Room – Normal Conversational Tones
  • First Floor Reading Room – Reduced Noise (quiet talking permitted)
  • First Floor Quiet Study Room – Silent
  • First Floor General & Teen Room – Normal Conversational Tones
  • Ground Floor Meeting Rooms and Lobby – Normal Conversational Tones
  • Ground Floor General – Reduced Noise (quiet talking permitted)

Free Speech and Expressive Conduct Activities

The Library supports open expression and free speech by the public, including through spoken communication, distribution of literature and other forms of free expression. The Library does not regulate the content of such expressive activities. However, in order to preserve Library facilities for their intended purpose, to allow for the orderly operation of these facilities and to preserve public safety, the Library does regulate the time, place and manner of such activities.
Members of the public who are interested in utilizing Library facilities for expressive activity shall notify the librarian in charge prior to engaging in such activity to ascertain the availability of space and shall comply with the following guidelines.
Use of Library Facilities for Expressive Activities:

  • External Facilities Spaces. For public safety purposes, expressive activities are prohibited in the Library parking lot and driveways. The sidewalks and lawn surrounding the Library are generally available for expressive activities, provided that the limitations and prohibitions set forth below are followed.
  • Internal Facilities Spaces. Designated areas within the Library, including the meeting rooms, lobby and vestibule, may be available for expressive activities. Interior spaces are limited, but may be made available, provided that they provide adequate area for the proposed activity and the limitations and prohibitions set forth below are followed.
  • Limitations and Prohibitions.
    • Use will occur only during the Library’s normal operating hours.
    • Use of Library facilities shall not impede or interfere with the passage of patrons or the normal operations of the Library.
    • Users will not disrupt or interfere with any individual’s use of the Library.
    • The Library may specify the time and location of such activities as necessary to ensure equal access to other users.
    • Users will not force or coerce any individual to take materials or sign petitions.
    • The Library reserves the right to close any facility space due to safety considerations.
    • The Library reserves the right to give scheduling priority to the use of any facility space for Library-sponsored activities.
    • Users shall not engage in any political fundraising.
    • Users shall not engage in any illegal activity.

Posting of Materials on Library Bulletin Boards. 
The Reading Public Library is committed to disseminating information that is of general interest to the community and provides spaces for the public posting of flyers, notices, and posters. Please refer to the Library’s “Policy on Distribution, Posting, and Collection of Materials” for further guidance.

Enforcement of Policy

The librarian in charge has the responsibility to speak to disruptive patrons and/or direct such patrons to leave the Library or take other appropriate measures.

  • People engaging in disruptive behaviors will be given one warning before being told to leave the Library.
  • People engaging in destructive or serious behavior will be told to leave immediately.
  • If directives to leave the building are not heeded, or if the situation is or is becoming in any way uncontrollable, the librarian in charge will call the police. Individuals will be warned that the police will be called.
  • If behavior continues or occurs again within 6 months of the first incident, the patron will be issued a written warning and may be subject to a “No Trespass” order and suspension of Library privileges for up to one (1) year depending on the severity of the violation.
  • Under no circumstances will Library personnel touch the patron as part of a disciplinary action.
  • At all times, Library staff will be courteous, tactful, and firm. Reasons for appropriate action will be clearly stated to the patron.

All Staff Responsibilities:

  • Weigh the degree of disruptive conduct with the onsite conditions at the time.
  • Exercise their best judgment in determining conduct that is in violation of this or any other Library policy, determining the best course of action.
  • Explain and distribute this policy to patrons.
  • Request that patrons conduct themselves in a way that is necessary to maintain a welcoming public Library environment.
  • Seek assistance from Library supervisors or public safety officials to resolve ongoing or escalating patron conduct issues.
  • Fill out the appropriate disruptive behavior forms and distribute to administration. Disruptive behavior forms are located at each service desk.

The Reading Public Library is for everyone’s enjoyment. We appreciate your cooperation with all Library policies in order to ensure the Library is a pleasant place to visit and all who use these public facilities receive respectful treatment.

First reading 8/14/17; Public Hearing & Approved, Board of Trustees 9/11/17; Updated 9/10/18

The Library has 5 meeting rooms for rent. The Meeting Room Policy must be read by all who rent Library spaces. Rooms can be booked at our Meeting Room Rental page.

In alignment with Commonwealth of Massachusetts and CDC guidance, face coverings are required for all individuals over the age of two while in public areas of the Reading Public Library in order to address asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission (transmission from infected individuals who may or may not have symptoms) of COVID-19. Face coverings are also recommended although not required in private spaces such as restrooms.
Visitors are expected to have their own face covering. If they do not have one, we will have a limited supply available.
Visitors who cannot wear a face covering should contact the library to discuss other ways the library can meet your service needs.
This policy will remain in place guidance from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts lifts the current restrictions.

Adopted September 14, 2020

Why are we required to wear face coverings?
COVID-19 is still circulating in Massachusetts. Therefore, we must assume anyone, visitors or staff, can be exposed at any time. Requiring face coverings in addition frequent hand hygiene and effective physical distancing will help protect everyone from the viral spread of the disease. The policy will reduce the risk of transmission from anyone who may be asymptomatic but are carrying the disease.
Do I have to wear the face covering the entire time I am at the Library?
Our goal is to protect everyone in the community from the spread of the virus. This policy is meant to accompany adherence to physical distancing and practicing frequent hand hygiene. Face coverings should be worn at all times, and are recommended although not required in private spaces such as restrooms.
Will a face covering really protect me?
The face coverings are intended to stop the community spread of the virus. Face coverings are only one of several health and safety practices that, when combined, are known to greatly reduce virus transmission.
How long will this policy be in effect?
Until guidance from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts lifts the current restrictions.

Tutors are welcome to use the library for sessions with students, and are encouraged to use our Homework Center.

The Baldwin grand piano was purchased and presented to the Reading Public Library entirely through private donations raised by the Friends of the Library. The intent of the donors was to facilitate musical programs for the community featuring professional, quasi-professional, or amateur musicians at the discretion of the Library Trustees and staff.

However, in accepting and thereby assuming responsibility for the piano, the Board of Trustees takes a position that such a sensitive instrument cannot be made available on a day-to-day basis for casual play, nor can it be made available for general practice.

Like all activities conducted in our Community Room, these performances shall be of a non­ profit nature and no fees may be charged for attendance. The sponsoring group or performing artist is responsible for related room fees (see Meeting Room Policy) and the cost of piano tuning required for the event. The library will provide a quote for the tuning upon scheduling of the program.

Whenever possible, proposals for use of the piano should be submitted to the Library Director at least one month prior to the requested date. (Printable Piano Request Form) Such proposals shall include all pertinent program information. A sponsoring group must be prepared to pay supplemental custodial fees in the event that a program runs outside of normal library operating hours.

All requests are subject to review and approval of the Board of Library Trustees.

Approved 6/1998; Revised 01/2017

The Reading Public Library recognizes the importance of electronic information to the educational, informational, cultural, and recreational needs of the community. To meet these needs, the Library offers full access to the Internet, current information about the Internet, and instruction on the use of the Internet through hands-on classes, lectures, and walk-in lessons.

Wireless access provided by the Library is unsecured. Antivirus, security and privacy protection are the responsibility of the customer. Patrons using Library wireless access must comply with this Internet Access Policy.

The Reading Public Library cannot guarantee the accuracy, authority, or timeliness of the information available on the Internet. Patrons are advised to exercise caution in divulging personal information through direct electronic communications, as doing so can compromise personal safety and privacy.

Computers, like other library materials and services, are shared resources, and patrons are expected to limit their time on library computers while others are waiting.

Materials obtained or copied on this computer network may be subject to copyright laws that govern making reproductions of copyrighted works.

The Internet may contain material of a controversial or mature nature that may be offensive or disturbing to some individuals and may not be appropriate for certain age groups. Full access to the Internet is compatible with the Library’s endorsement of the Library Bill of Rights; Access to Electronic Information Services and Networks; and with the policies, goals, and objectives of this public library; however, viewing of certain materials in the Library may be considered improper in time, place or manner. The staff reserve the right to end an Internet session at any time if it is creating a disturbance.

Accessing material that meets the legal definition of obscenity is prohibited. Minors shall not access material “harmful to minors.” Blatantly offensive visual or text-based materials constitute potential sources of sexual harassment to other patrons and to library staff and will not be tolerated. The use of Internet access through the Reading Public Library for illegal purposes or to transmit threatening, obscene, or harassing materials is also strictly prohibited.

Violation of any part of this policy may result in discipline including, but not limited to, loss of access to the computers and, in appropriate cases, exclusion from the library.


Approved: 9/15/97 (Revisions Approved: 7/20/09)

The Reading Public Library is committed to disseminating information that is of general interest to the community and provides spaces for the free distribution of handouts and the public posting of flyers, notices, and posters. The posting of notices on the bulletin boards does not imply endorsement by the Library.
All requests for distribution or posting of materials should be referred to the Borrower Services Desk. Library employees maintain bulletin boards and areas for distribution of materials. Materials posted or left for free distribution without approval from the Library will be discarded. A section may be reserved for library announcements. Because space is limited, the Library will give preference to materials that:

  • are from the town of Reading;
  • are from Reading organizations;
  • are from non-profit organizations;
  • announce events, activities, and services in a timely fashion;
  • are of a suitable size.

Posted materials shall not contain illegal, threatening or intimidating messages and shall not otherwise violate the “Patron Rights and Responsibilities Policy”.
In general, announcements of events maybe posted up to one month before the event. Posters of a general nature that do not advertise a specific date or event will be removed when space for other announcements becomes limited. The Library assumes no responsibility for the preservation or protection of materials posted or placed for free distribution.
In addition, the Reading Public Library does not permit the sale of materials by or on behalf of another agency, nor does it serve as a collection center unless specifically requested to do so for Municipal, State or Federal agencies. Special consideration will be given to publicity for services or programs presented by the Friends of the Library and the Reading Public Library Foundation. Other organizations may apply for special consideration to the Board of Library Trustees.

Approved May 2001; Amended January 10, 2005; Amended March 12, 2018; Amended September 10, 2018

For purposes of this policy the following definitions will be used:

Unattended Children:
Under 9 years old and unaccompanied by a parent, guardian, or other caregiver;
Under 9 years old and on a different floor of the Library from a parent, guardian, or other caregiver.
Under 9 years old and being “supervised” by someone under 14 years old.
Any individual, at least 14 years of age who is responsible for a child.


The trustees and staff of the Reading Public Library strive to create a warm, inviting, fun, and safe environment for children. The Library offers many programs and services that encourage children to develop a love of books, reading, and learning.

The following rules have been established regarding unattended children because we care about the safety of all our customers.

  1. Children under the age of 9 must be accompanied by a caregiver while in the Library
  2. Children ages 9 to 11 should not be left unattended for longer than two hours at a time.
  3. Children ages 9 and above should have the telephone number of their parent or guardian or other designated adult available in the event of an emergency or unexpected closing.
  4. Parents or guardians should be responsible for having their children picked up by the time or before the Library is closed.
  5. Should it be determined that a child under age 14 has been left at the Library at closing time, every attempt will be made to contact the child’s parents or other family member. The Reading Police will be called if no one can be reached.
    Staff members will remain after hours with an unattended child until the parent, guardian, designated adult or police arrive. The Reading Police plan to go to the child’s home first and leave a message indicating that the officer will be picking the child up at the Library and will bring him or her to the Police Station.
  6. Staff members should fill out an incident report form and leave it for the director when the Police are called.
  7. Library staff members will not transport children from the Library to any other location.
  8. Parents, guardians, or caretakers who violate the rules stated above risk having their library privileges restricted or revoked.


Approved: 9/19