Special Use of Library Facilities and Grounds Policy
The King County Library System (KCLS) strives to provide an environment that encourages all patrons to use its facilities, services and resources in a safe and respectful manner. KCLS believes in providing free access to, and communication of, ideas and information that reflect the broad range of interests in the communities we serve. Cognizant that portions of KCLS library buildings and grounds may be considered public forums, this policy restricts sales and solicitation activities and imposes reasonable time, place and manner restrictions on signature gathering, political activities and election materials, and other activities or expressions of free speech in accordance with State law and to the extent necessary to prevent unreasonable interference with patrons’ enjoyment of the library.
Statement of Policy
Sales and Solicitation
Individuals, groups or organizations are prohibited from selling any goods or services or soliciting funds anywhere in KCLS buildings or on library grounds (i.e. plaza, parking lot, etc.), except in association with the Friends of the Library groups, the KCLS Foundation, any public library related association or as a component of a library‐sponsored program or event (e.g. sale of books at author/illustrator event).
Entities such as non‐profit organizations may use pre‐approved space designated by the local staff in the library to collect charitable donations (e.g. giving trees, food bank bins) or offer a public service (e.g. eyeglass recycling), excluding monetary contributions. While these collections that support the local community are allowed, KCLS must also consider aesthetic impacts, multiple requests, other library uses and space availability. Any request to collect charitable donations
at the library must be approved in advance by a member(s) of the local library management team.
While the lobbies of KCLS community libraries are not bookable space for the public, they may be used for KCLS sponsored activities associated with a formal KCLS partnership (an approved Partnership Agreement Form must be on file). Such an activity resulting from a formal partnership must be mutually beneficial and may not be disruptive to other library operations.
Signature Gathering and Political Activity
Because libraries generally provide information on issues of public concern, KCLS may make an objective and fair presentation of facts relevant to a ballot proposition as follows:
- Keep copies of petitions or ballot measures for informational purposes only.
- Provide names, addresses and phone numbers of people involved in the initiative process.
KCLS must also allow petition signature gatherers and electioneerers outside on library premises as long as they do not interfere with the public's access to, entry into or exit from the building. Petition signature gatherers and electioneerers may be outside the library building only and may not be in the foyer, lobby or interior of the facility. Petition signature gatherers and electioneerers may also utilize outdoor walkways and plaza areas and adjacent sidewalks as long as they do not interfere with traffic or public access.
RCW 42.17.130 generally prohibits libraries from becoming part of the election process itself. In particular, the law forbids the use of public office or agency facilities in campaigns. This means that KCLS staff may not use their library positions or the library facilities, letterheads, communications or other resources for the purpose of assisting a campaign for election of any person or for the promotion of or opposition to any ballot proposition. This means that KCLS cannot:
- Have petitions in library buildings for the public to come in and sign (violates RCW 42.17.130).
- Have petitions in library buildings for the public to take and seek signatures.
- Have petition signature gatherers seeking signatures inside library buildings.
RCW 42.17.130 does not prevent KCLS from making facilities (i.e. meeting rooms) available on a nondiscriminatory, equal access basis for political uses such as electioneering; however, any such activity must be confined to the meeting room or outside of the building.
It is KCLS’ policy to provide information about political candidates and issues of interest. For this reason, campaign literature shall be accepted at library buildings and will be placed at a location where it is readily accessible to the public as follows:
- Information representing candidates and viewpoints on issues shall be accepted (includes election questionnaires and ratings, such as by League of Women Voters).
- Multiple copies of only one piece of information per candidate will be accepted.
- Campaign material must be in a readily disposable format (no larger than 8.5”x11” folded).
- All campaign literature must comply with relevant state/local laws governing such materials, with the name of the sponsoring campaign or organization clearly stated on the piece.
- Any visual media prepared by King County or government elections agency will be displayed with these items. *Note: These materials will not be cataloged or checked out.
- A printed disclaimer will be displayed in a visible location on or adjacent to any campaign literature that reads largely as follows: “This library does not support or oppose any of the candidates or issues whose literature is displayed. It is provided for your information only.”
- Sales: Any wholesale, retail, service or similar activity that could result in the exchange of money or offer monetary gain to the person(s) distributing the product or service.
- Solicitation: The act of requesting money, credit, goods or merchandise for any purposes.
- Ballot Proposition/Ballot Measure: A “ballot proposition” is any initiative, recall or referendum proposed to be submitted to the voters. It is considered a “ballot measure” when circulated for signatures or filed with the Secretary of State. Even if it has not been filed, it is considered a ballot measure once it is circulated for signatures.
- Public Office or Agency Facilities: Includes, but is not limited to, stationery, postage, machines and equipment, use of employees of the agency during working hours, vehicles, office space, publications of the office or agency, and clientele lists of persons served by the office or agency.
- Electioneering: To work actively in a political campaign for the success of a particular candidate, political party, etc.; persuasion of voters in a political campaign.
Policy Owner(s): Director of Public Services — Operations
Last revised: November 2013