Policy

Question

My association library is updating our meeting room policy. I've read Ask the Lawyer's previous advice on meeting rooms, as well as ALA's guidance. I have two questions that I can't find guidance on:

Answer

As the member points out, there have been a few other "Ask the Lawyer" RAQ's on room use, so for those who want to do some background reading, here are the RAQ's the member refers to:


Question

Does a contractor have to comply with FOIL request if they are contracted to a county government?

Answer

New York's Freedom of Information Law, or “FOIL”, applies to government agencies (including public libraries) but cannot be used to compel private companies (or individuals) to allow inspection or copying or records.


Question

The NYS law requiring people to demonstrate a reason to conceal carry a weapon has been overturned by the Supreme Court. What this means for libraries. Is there anything we can do to prevent guns in the library?

Answer

When New York’s "proper-cause requirement" for obtaining an unrestricted license to carry a concealed firearm was struck down by the United States Supreme Court on June 23, 2022[1], the New York State Legislature--in a state still reeling from fatal gun violence in Buffalo just weeks before--swiftly passed laws to replace it.[2


Question

There are reports of first amendment audits happening in rural towns and villages. Public libraries are limited public forums - how can we stop the filming, as quietly as possible without causing a social media frenzy.

Answer

For a person who hasn't run into this concept yet, a so-called "First Amendment audit" is an increasingly popular trend where people visit government buildings and demand access to information--along with the privilege to film on site--all in the name of the law, democracy and transparency.

As a lawyer and U.S. citizen, I am all for the law, democracy, and transparency.


Question

How long should the library retain employee records, payroll records, sales and purchase records, mortgage and loan documents, and other records?

Answer

Several considerations impact the answer to this question:

For a public library, the bare minimum record retention periods are found in a document called "the LGS-1."[1]  The LGS-1 has rules for retention covering everything from your library's charter, to how long you hold onto circulation records.


Question

NOTE: On 5/13/22, Erie 1 BOCES hosted a program[1] regarding school library materials management.  That same week, the Erie County Bar Association hosted a CLE on the same topic[2].

Answer

DO ensure your school district library system, school district, or school has a robust and well-thought-out "school library materials policy"[1] ("Policy") governing selection, procurement, cataloging, lending, concerns, re-evaluation, and removal of library materials.


Question

[NOTE: We didn't get this as a submission to "Ask the Lawyer", but we wish we had...]

Our library board is considering a resolution to bar displays celebrating Pride Month.  The ban focuses on, but is not limited to, displays in children's/YA areas.  Is this a legal issue?

Answer

YES. Expressly barring library displays based on categories protected by law, such as sexual orientation and gender, is--among other things--a legal issue.


Question

We recently received 2 questions that raised related issues, so we've merged them in this "Ask the Lawyer Meeting Room Question Mash-Up" RAQ.

Here is question 1:

Answer

These meeting-room related submissions to "Ask the Lawyer" were inspired by two separate resources: the first one, an "Ask the Lawyer" RAQ on meeting room policies, and the second, an ESLN-sponsored training.


Question

Sometimes, people nap in the library, particularly people who we believe might not have stable or sufficient housing. We feel that a library should not exclude people who need a secure place to rest, so long as there is no interference with library operations, but are there any legal considerations to this issue?

Answer

This is a VERY sensitive issue. There are many factors that could contribute to a person sleeping in a public space, including:


Question

Periodically, our library receives handwritten requests for information from individuals who are incarcerated at prisons and correctional facilities around the country.

Answer

As I have written before, a big rule for the "Ask the Lawyer" service is "don't reinvent the wheel!"