Public Library Safety & Security Toolkit

Barrie Public Library – Early-Literacy


Suspensions & Other Consequences

Consequences are required when guidelines have been broken. Library staff need to enforce the consequences to provide a safe environment for all. Several of the resources highlighted in this toolkit can help staff determine what behaviour is acceptable within a library’s policies, when to give out a warning and when to move on to a suspension. Using these resources can help staff implement warnings or suspensions in an objective way.

Where Suspensions & Other Consequences Fit in the Library Journey

These are relevant throughout the journey of a library patron when expectations on their behaviour are not met.

Key Considerations

When developing, revising, or applying suspension policies, there are many factors to take into account. Topics libraries may want to consider include:

  • The language used to refer to suspensions. Several terms are in use by different libraries, including exclusion (Toronto), suspension (Edmonton), and ban (Hamilton).
  • Determine what infraction categories to track and what suspension length, if any, to assign to each. Some libraries assign minimum or maximum suspension lengths for certain infraction types. Libraries also may apply a sliding scale of consequence based on different factors (i.e., age, first or repeat offence, seriousness of infraction).
  • Consider which level of staff is authorized to issue or confirm a suspension. In some libraries, it is the Chief Librarian or CEO while in others this is delegated to managers.

Many libraries provide options for patrons to appeal suspensions. Questions to consider for appeals include the criteria for considering an appeal and the mechanism for hearing an appeal. The workflow for denying, shortening, or rescinding appeals is another consideration.

Examples & Templates

Edmonton Public Library

The Edmonton Public Library uses a chart to determine when an incident requires a suspension and includes a section on whose role it is to initiate the suspension conversation and who has the authority to suspend a patron. The chart below includes minimum suspension lengths for various offenses and their authority levels. Repeated offenses or offenses deemed to be more serious in nature may result in longer-term suspensions. Where the suggested minimum length states “up to”, Managers may use their discretion in recommending a suspension length for their Director’s consideration.

InfractionMinimum Suspension LengthsAuthority to Initiate & Communicate SuspensionAuthority to Formally Issue Suspension
Minor Disturbance including Computer ViolationsUp to one month localLibrary StaffService Point Manager, Library Services Co-ordinator
Intoxication (alcohol or drugs) – first infractionOne day local (Repeat offenses will be three months or more system wide) All Staff, Milner Security
Intoxication (alcohol or drugs) – repeated infractionThree months system wideService Point Manager, Milner SecurityService Point Manager
Possession of open** alcohol or drugs – repeated infractionUp to six months system wideService Point Manager, Milner SecurityDirector, Branch Services

Saskatoon Public Library

The Saskatoon Public Library’s Safe Use and Conduct Bylaw governs the conduct of people who use and access library spaces, services, and programs for the safety of Patrons and Personnel. The Suspension Procedure provides guidance to employees dealing with violations of SPL’s Safe Use and Conduct Bylaw and Managers faced with suspending a patron from library facilities and services. It also includes an example of how the Saskatoon Public Library’s request for reinstatement works, which is:

  • If a suspended patron requests an appeal, the employee contacts the Branch Manager.
  • The Branch Manager, as well as an additional Manager or Senior Manager, meets with the suspended patron to resolve an issue or identify next steps. Recommendations are passed to the Senior Manager, Security for approval.

If the situation cannot be resolved at the local level, a suspended patron concerned about the suspension of their Library privileges can ask that the matter be reviewed by SPL’s Board of Trustees through the delegation process.

InfractionMinimum SuspensionAuthority
Excessive Noise & Disruption of Others
Disrupting others in the library by yelling or making undue or excessive noise is prohibited.
1 day suspensionEmployees and security personnel in consultation with employees
Sleeping is not permitted in the library.
1 day suspensionEmployees and security personnel in consultation with employees
Smoking & Vaping
Smoking and vaping are prohibited inside the library and within three metres of an entrance.
1 day suspensionEmployees and security personnel in consultation with employees
Alcohol or Drugs
Carrying open alcohol or drugs, being under the influence of alcohol or drugs and using alcohol or cannabis is prohibited on library property
1 day suspensionEmployees and security personnel in consultation with employees
Verbal Harassment & Vulgar Language
Verbal harassment or the use of vulgar language is prohibited. This includes, but is not limited to: taunts, threats, swearing, or yelling at, name calling towards employees, guards, or patrons.
1 day suspensionEmployees and security personnel in consultation with employees
Only service animals are permitted in library buildings. All other animals are not allowed.
1 day suspensionEmployees and security personnel in consultation with employees
Food & Drink
Non-alcoholic beverages and food can be consumed in the library, except near computers or in Innovation Labs, unless posted temporary measures state otherwise.
1 day suspensionEmployees and security personnel in consultation with employees

Hamilton Public Library

The Hamilton Public Library uses a conduct matrix to help differentiate an incident between a warning or suspension, and the length of time needed. It exemplifies how an incident progresses from a verbal warning to being suspended for one year. It also connects an incident to the rules of conduct that are being broken.

Toronto Public Library

The Toronto Public Library manages consequences through the Exclusion, Appeals and Reinstatement policy. It describes how exclusions are administered, how customers may appeal an exclusion, and how customers may request reinstatement following a 12-month exclusion.

Toronto Public Library uses the following criteria when determining whether to grant an appeal or the reinstatement of Library privileges:

  1. The safety of the public and Library staff and the circumstances surrounding the exclusion.
  2. The past behaviour of the person making the application with regard to the Rules of Conduct.
  3. The person’s reasons for appealing his or her exclusion or seeking reinstatement, as well as other mitigating factors.
  4. Where applicable, whether the person has reimbursed the Library for all expenses incurred as a result of the person’s actions.
  5. Whether the exclusion procedures were applied in accordance with the provisions of this Policy.