Library Policies

Alameda Free Library

Collection Development Policy

  adopted by the Alameda Free Library Board 10.31.2016



The purpose of this Collection Development Policy is to define the scope of the Alameda Free Library’s (the Library) collection. It functions as a blueprint to guide the Library’s decision-making in the selection, acquisition, and maintenance of the Library’s collection.


Collection Scope

The Library’s collection is distributed among the Main Library and two neighborhood branches, West End and Bay Farm Island. Our collection includes fiction and non-fiction materials and resources for all ages, supporting a community of readers and lifelong learners. The Library’s collection is designed to support the cultural, informational, educational, and recreational interests of the residents of the City of Alameda and is based on awareness of community interests and concerns, national and international issues and events, publishing trends, new insights, societal trends, and the professional judgment of selectors regarding the material’s value to the Library’s collection. It reflects the interests of the general public and supports the demographics and diversity of the community of which it is a part.


Intellectual Freedom

The Library does not serve as censor of the reading of any member of the community. Individuals apply their personal interests and values to the materials they choose for themselves. The values of one may not be imposed on another. The Library does not stand in loco parentis (in the place of parents). Parents and guardians have the responsibility to guide and direct the reading, listening, and viewing choices of their own minor children.


The Library’s selection of materials for the collection does not constitute an endorsement of the content. Library materials are not marked or identified to show approval or disapproval of the contents, nor are materials sequestered except for the purpose of protecting them from damage or theft.


The Library will uphold the freedom to read as expressed in the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, Freedom to Read, and Freedom to View statements.


Responsibility for Selection

The responsibility for the selection of Library materials rests ultimately with the Library Director. The Library Director delegates the tasks of selection and maintenance to the Adult and Children’s Services Supervisors and other professional library staff. All staff members and the general public are encouraged to recommend materials for consideration.




Selection Criteria

Collection Development librarians, using available collection tools and knowledge of community trends, select and evaluate materials and resources for the collection. Gifts, purchases, and e-resources are selected for the collection using the same criteria.


The following general criteria are incorporated to evaluate and select materials for the collection:

·         Popular demand

·         Currency of material

·         Present and potential relevance to community needs

·         Relevance to current trends and events

·         Accuracy and depth of content

·         Reputation and authority of author, artist, producer or publisher

·         Publicity, critiques, and reviews

·         Material’s contribution to a diversity of viewpoints

·         Provides unique contribution to a field of study

·         Format options

·         Physical design suitable for library use

·         Publication date, price, availability, and materials budget

·         Relationship to existing material in collection


Deselection and Collection Maintenance

Maintenance of the collection through continuous evaluation by library staff is critical to ensuring its continued usefulness and relevancy. Materials are regularly removed to maintain a current, accurate, and appealing collection and to facilitate its ease of use. Decisions are influenced by patterns of use, the capacity of each location, and the holdings of other libraries that may specialize in a given subject matter. An item may be deselected for several reasons including:

·         Damage or poor condition

·         Number of copies in the collection

·         Relevance to the needs and interests of the community

·         Current demand and frequency of use

·         Accuracy and timeliness

·         Local interest

·         Availability elsewhere including other libraries and online


Not all criteria are applied to each de-selection decision. Deselected items may be given to a third party book recycler, Friends of the Alameda Free Library to sell, or may be recycled at the discretion of the Library.


As materials become worn, damaged, or lost, replacement will be based on whether or not:

·         Item is still available

·         There is ongoing demand or need

·         Another item or format might better serve the same purpose

·         Updated, newer, or revised materials would better replace a given item

·         Item has historical value

·         Another library system could better provide item or comparable item



Patron Requests for Purchase

Alameda Free Library welcomes suggestions from the community for possible purchases of materials. All suggestions are given serious consideration and are subject to the same criteria as all other materials purchased for the Library.


Local Authors and Self-Publishing

Authors who live within the boundaries of the City of Alameda may donate one copy of their book to be added to the Alameda Collection located at the Main Library.


The Alameda Free Library does not purchase unsolicited materials or act in lieu of professional review sources. The Library accepts donated copies of self-published books, but does not guarantee inclusion in the collection. Items donated to the Library become the property of the Library and may not be returned to the donating party. The library cannot acknowledge receipt of the item or of the final selection decision. Acceptance of an item does not guarantee the purchase of additional items. If the item is not accepted, the donated copy will be repurposed according to our gift policy.


Gifts and Donations

The Library accepts donations of materials in usable condition, including works by local authors, for consideration as additions to its collection. All donations are subject to the same selection criteria as purchased materials. The Library reserves the right to determine the conditions of display, housing, and access to the materials. Materials not added to the collection are not returned to the donor and may be given to the Friends of the Alameda Free Library for resale, with proceeds going to support the Library.


The Library welcomes monetary gifts for collection enrichment. Donors may request that these funds be directed to particular collections or subject areas. The Library reserves the right to make the final selection decisions.


Reconsideration of Materials

Persons seeking the reconsideration of an item in the collection will be offered the Request for Reconsideration of Materials form and asked to provide a written explanation of their objections, citing specifics from the material in question. These requests will be reviewed by the Library Director, members of the Collection Development team, and librarians specializing in the content area. In accordance with the guidelines for the selection of Library materials, the use of profanity, sexual incidents, and violence does not automatically disqualify materials from inclusion in the collection, and decisions are made on the basis of an item’s overall value, rather than on isolated parts.


The decision about reconsideration will be communicated by letter from the Library Director. The Library Board, upon request, hears appeals of the Library’s response. Appeals must be presented in writing to the Library Board at least ten (10) days in advance of the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Board. Decisions on appeals are based on careful review of the objection, the material, and the material selection criteria. The final decision on appeals rests with the Library Board and will be taken up at publically held Board meetings.



Attachment A: American Library Association Library Bill of Rights

Attachment B: American Library Association Freedom to Read Statement
Attachment C: American Library Association Freedom to View Principles

Attachment D: Request for Reconsideration of Materials Form



Library Bill of Rights
The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services.

1.    Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background or views of those contributing to their creation.


2.    Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.


3.    Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.


4.    Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.


5.    A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background or views.


6.    Libraries that make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.

Adopted June 19, 1939, by the ALA Council; amended October 14, 1944; June 18, 1948; February 2, 1961;
June 27, 1967; January 23, 1980; inclusion of “age” reaffirmed January 23, 1996.



The Freedom to Read Statement
The freedom to read is essential to our democracy. It is continuously under attack. Private groups and public authorities in various parts of the country are working to remove or limit access to reading materials, to censor content in schools, to label "controversial" views, to distribute lists of "objectionable" books or authors, and to purge libraries. These actions apparently rise from a view that our national tradition of free expression is no longer valid; that censorship and suppression are needed to counter threats to safety or national security, as well as to avoid the subversion of politics and the corruption of morals. We, as individuals devoted to reading and as librarians and publishers responsible for disseminating ideas, wish to assert the public interest in the preservation of the freedom to read.
Most attempts at suppression rest on a denial of the fundamental premise of democracy: that the ordinary individual, by exercising critical judgment, will select the good and reject the bad. We trust Americans to recognize propaganda and misinformation, and to make their own decisions about what they read and believe. We do not believe they are prepared to sacrifice their heritage of a free press in order to be "protected" against what others think may be bad for them. We believe they still favor free enterprise in ideas and expression.
These efforts at suppression are related to a larger pattern of pressures being brought against education, the press, art and images, films, broadcast media, and the Internet. The problem is not only one of actual censorship. The shadow of fear cast by these pressures leads, we suspect, to an even larger voluntary curtailment of expression by those who seek to avoid controversy or unwelcome scrutiny by government officials.
Such pressure toward conformity is perhaps natural to a time of accelerated change. And yet suppression is never more dangerous than in such a time of social tension. Freedom has given the United States the elasticity to endure strain. Freedom keeps open the path of novel and creative solutions, and enables change to come by choice. Every silencing of a heresy, every enforcement of an orthodoxy, diminishes the toughness and resilience of our society and leaves it the less able to deal with controversy and difference.
Now as always in our history, reading is among our greatest freedoms. The freedom to read and write is almost the only means for making generally available ideas or manners of expression that can initially command only a small audience. The written word is the natural medium for the new idea and the untried voice from which come the original contributions to social growth. It is essential to the extended discussion that serious thought requires, and to the accumulation of knowledge and ideas into organized collections.
We believe that free communication is essential to the preservation of a free society and a creative culture. We believe that these pressures toward conformity present the danger of limiting the range and variety of inquiry and expression on which our democracy and our culture depend. We believe that every American community must jealously guard the freedom to publish and to circulate, in order to preserve its own freedom to read. We believe that publishers and librarians have a profound responsibility to give validity to that freedom to read by making it possible for the readers to choose freely from a variety of offerings.


The freedom to read is guaranteed by the Constitution. Those with faith in free people will stand firm on these constitutional guarantees of essential rights and will exercise the responsibilities that accompany these rights.
We therefore affirm these propositions:

1.    It is in the public interest for publishers and librarians to make available the widest diversity of views and expressions, including those that are unorthodox, unpopular or considered dangerous by the majority.

Creative thought is by definition new, and what is new is different. The bearer of every new thought is a rebel until that idea is refined and tested. Totalitarian systems attempt to maintain themselves in power by the ruthless suppression of any concept that challenges the established orthodoxy. The power of a democratic system to adapt to change is vastly strengthened by the freedom of its citizens to choose widely from among conflicting opinions offered freely to them. To stifle every nonconformist idea at birth would mark the end of the democratic process. Furthermore, only through the constant activity of weighing and selecting can the democratic mind attain the strength demanded by times like these. We need to know not only what we believe but why we believe it.

2.    Publishers, librarians and booksellers do not need to endorse every idea or presentation they make available. It would conflict with the public interest for them to establish their own political, moral or aesthetic views as a standard for determining what should be published or circulated.

Publishers and librarians serve the educational process by helping to make available knowledge and ideas required for the growth of the mind and the increase of learning. They do not foster education by imposing as mentors the patterns of their own thought. The people should have the freedom to read and consider a broader range of ideas than those that may be held by any single librarian or publisher or government or church. It is wrong that what one can read should be confined to what another thinks proper.

3.    It is contrary to the public interest for publishers or librarians to bar access to writings on the basis of the personal history or political affiliations of the author.

No art or literature can flourish if it is to be measured by the political views or private lives of its creators. No society of free people can flourish that draws up lists of writers to whom it will not listen, whatever they may have to say.

4.    There is no place in our society for efforts to coerce the taste of others, to confine adults to the reading matter deemed suitable for adolescents, or to inhibit the efforts of writers to achieve artistic expression.

To some, much of modern expression is shocking. But is not much of life itself shocking? We cut off literature at the source if we prevent writers from dealing with the stuff of life. Parents and teachers have a responsibility to prepare the young to meet the diversity of experiences in life to which they will be exposed, as they have a responsibility to help them learn to think critically for themselves. These are affirmative responsibilities, not to be discharged simply by preventing them from reading works for
which they are not yet prepared. In these matters values differ, and values cannot be legislated; nor can machinery be devised that will suit the demands of one group without limiting the freedom of others.

5.    It is not in the public interest to force a reader to accept the prejudgment of a label characterizing any expression or its author as subversive or dangerous.

The ideal of labeling presupposes the existence of individuals or groups with wisdom to determine by authority what is good or bad for others. It presupposes that individuals must be directed in making up their minds about the ideas they examine. But Americans do not need others to do their thinking for them.

6.    It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians, as guardians of the people's freedom to read, to contest encroachments upon that freedom by individuals or groups seeking to impose their own standards or tastes upon the community at large; and by the government whenever it seeks to reduce or deny public access to public information.

It is inevitable in the give and take of the democratic process that the political, the moral or the aesthetic concepts of an individual or group will occasionally collide with those of another individual or group. In a free society individuals are free to determine for themselves what they wish to read, and each group is free to determine what it will recommend to its freely associated members. But no group has the right to take the law into its own hands, and to impose its own concept of politics or morality upon other members of a democratic society. Freedom is no freedom if it is accorded only to the accepted and the inoffensive. Further, democratic societies are more safe, free, and creative when the free flow of public information is not restricted by governmental prerogative or self-censorship.

7.    It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians to give full meaning to the freedom to read by providing books that enrich the quality and diversity of thought and expression. By the exercise of this affirmative responsibility, they can demonstrate that the answer to a "bad" book is a good one, the answer to a "bad" idea is a good one.

The freedom to read is of little consequence when the reader cannot obtain matter fit for that reader's purpose. What is needed is not only the absence of restraint, but the positive provision of opportunity for the people to read the best that has been thought and said. Books are the major channel by which the intellectual inheritance is handed down, and the principal means of its testing and growth. The defense of the freedom to read requires of all publishers and librarians the utmost of their faculties, and deserves of all Americans the fullest of their support.
We state these propositions neither lightly nor as easy generalizations. We here stake out a lofty claim for the value of the written word. We do so because we believe that it is possessed of enormous variety and usefulness, worthy of cherishing and keeping free. We realize that the application of these propositions may mean the dissemination of ideas and manners of expression that are repugnant to many persons. We do not state these propositions in the comfortable belief that what people read is unimportant. We believe rather that what people read is deeply important; that ideas can be dangerous; but that the suppression of ideas is fatal to a democratic society. Freedom itself is a dangerous way of life, but it is ours.


This statement was originally issued in May of 1953 by the Westchester Conference of the American Library Association and the American Book Publishers Council, which in 1970 consolidated with the American Educational Publishers Institute to become the Association of American Publishers.
Adopted June 25, 1953, by the ALA Council and the AAP Freedom to Read Committee; amended January 28, 1972; January 16, 1991; July 12, 2000; June 30, 2004.
A Joint Statement by:


Subsequently endorsed by:


Freedom to Read Foundation National Association of College Stores National Coalition Against Censorship
National Council of Teachers of English
The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression



Freedom to View Statement

The FREEDOM TO VIEW, along with the freedom to speak, to hear, and to read, is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. In a free society, there is no place for censorship of any medium of expression. Therefore these principles are affirmed:

1.    To provide the broadest access to film, video, and other audiovisual materials because they are a means for the communication of ideas. Liberty of circulation is essential to insure the constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression.


2.    To protect the confidentiality of all individuals and institutions using film, video, and other audiovisual materials.


3.    To provide film, video, and other audiovisual materials which represent a diversity of views and expression.  Selection of a work does not constitute or imply agreement with or approval of the content.


4.    To provide a diversity of viewpoints without the constraint of labeling or prejudging film, video, or other audiovisual materials on the basis of the moral, religious, or political beliefs of the producer or filmmaker or on the basis of controversial content.


5.    To contest vigorously, by all lawful means, every encroachment upon the public's freedom to view.

This statement was originally drafted by the Freedom to View Committee of the American Film and Video Association (formerly the Educational Film Library Association) and was adopted by the AFVA Board of Directors in February 1979. This statement was updated and approved by the AFVA Board of Directors in 1989.
Endorsed January 10, 1990, by the ALA Council




Request for Reconsideration of Materials Form


Name                                                                                                  Phone_________              


Address___________________________ City, State, Zip_____                  _                     


Representing: Yourself ___ Organization (Name)                                                                   


Type of material to be reconsidered:


Book   Magazine  DVD/Video   Audio   Other (Specify)                                                           


Title                                         Author ___    ____________Date _____Call No.                     


To what in the book/material do you object? (Please be specific, give pages, etc.)



Did you read/view/listen to the entire book/material? Yes        No        (If not, what parts?)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        


Although you object to this book/material, does it have any merit?



For what age group would you recommend this book/material?                                           


What action would you like the Library to take regarding this book/material?

Reevaluate the item for its appropriateness to the Library’s collection?                               

Other (Specify)                                                                                                                                


In its place, what book/material on the same subject would you recommend that would convey as valuable a perspective on the subject treated?



Your request will be carefully considered by the Selectors and Library Director of Alameda Free Library. If necessary, any decision may be appealed to the Alameda Free Library Board through the Library Director’s office.


Date                                                                Signature                                                                  


The Alameda Free Library seeks to provide access to educational, informational and cultural resources to the community.  As part of that belief, the Library encourages the artistic and cultural interests of the community by providing a showcase for art by community and area artists. Space is provided for displays and exhibits of an educational, cultural, civic, charitable or recreational nature, not for advertising for commercial enterprises nor for exhibits designed to serve specific candidate, campaigns, or parties.  The Library is not, in providing space for art, establishing a public forum, and is not limited to merely imposing time, place and manner restrictions on the proposed items for display.  Additionally, the Library welcomes exhibits that relate to Library collections and resources, reflects the diversity of Alameda, attracts a broad audience, or connects to other exhibitions or programs in the community presented at or about the same time.

The Alameda Free Library has adopted the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights and its numerous interpretations.  In accordance with this document, display and exhibit spaces at the Library are made available on an equitable basis, regardless of the belief or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.  Materials in an exhibit or display will not be excluded because of the origin, background or views of those contributing to the creation of the displays or exhibits.  Materials will not be prohibited or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.

The Alameda Free Library endeavors to present a broad spectrum of opinion and viewpoints.  The Library does not endorse the beliefs or viewpoints of topics which may be the subject of exhibits or displays in the Library.  The Library Art Exhibit committee is responsible for the selection of Library art exhibits.  Special consideration will be given to works of art produced by local artists.

The Library Art Exhibit Committee shall be made up by:

  1. Library Director
  2. Library Exhibits Manager
  3. A member appointed by the Library Board
  4. A member appointed by the Library Board
  5. A member appointed by the Library Board

Persons appointed by the Library Board are Alameda Residents

The Alameda Free Library shall have the final decision on the arrangement of all exhibits and displays.  The Library reserves the right to reject any part of an exhibit or to change the manner of display.  Works that are fragile in nature or whose framing or display arrangement is of questionable durability may be rejected.

The Alameda Free Library is not responsible for any artwork that is lost, damaged, or stolen while on exhibit or display. Although reasonable precautions will be taken to protect materials, the artist assumes the risk of loss of, or damage to, the piece as it is on display. The Library will not be responsible for the reimbursement or replacement of lost, stolen or damaged material.

Artists are not to display prices next to their artwork during the duration of the exhibit.  The Library is NOT a sales venue; however, a price list for exhibited items will be made available at the Information Desk on the first floor.

The Alameda Free Library will not charge for the right to display artwork.



Adopted by the Alameda Free Library Board 02.14.07

The Alameda Free Library is a department of the City of Alameda, California.


 Art - As Personal Property


The Gifts and Donations Policy adopted by the Alameda Free Library Board on March 14, 2007 defines art as personal property. “Art objects, portraits, antiques, and museum quality objects are considered for acceptance on a case-by-case basis as outlined in the Art Donations Policy..


Library Discretion


The Library has no obligation to accept, display, or maintain any items donated to the Alameda Free Library.   Once an item is accepted, the Library shall be the sole owner of the donated item(s) and will have the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to deaccession any donated item(s) without providing notice to or obtaining the consent of the donor. Final decisions as to the acceptance of art donations are made by the Alameda Free Library Board at the recommendation of the Library Director.


Selection Criteria for Artworks


Overall the Alameda Free Library has limited space for the display of art, and therefore it is important to consider very carefully the acceptance of a piece of art for long-term loan or as a gift.


Style and Nature: The art should be appropriate in scale, material, form and content for the library environment.


Quality and Elements of Design: Public art may have other functions in addition to aesthetic enjoyment. For example, a work of art may establish a focal point, modify, or enhance a space or identify a building function. As far as possible, the work of art should compliment and enhance the building and its purpose.


Durability: Works of art will be examined for durability, taking the library environment and the condition of the piece into consideration. Extremely fragile items or those that are potential targets for vandalism are not appropriate for the library setting.


Installation / Maintenance Costs: When selecting a work of art to purchase or determining if a gift may be accepted, the Library Board will take into consideration any security issues, the cost of installation, and the cost of maintaining the work over its lifetime.


Public Liability: Works will not be selected or accepted that create unsafe conditions or contain other factors that may bear on public liability.


Conditions of Acceptance


Library Conditions of Acceptance: With direction from the Library Board, the Library Director will provide the donor with a letter of acceptance to be signed. The donor is required to accept the Library’s terms and conditions including the following:


• All gifts must be unconditional, transferring ownership and all rights of ownership to the Alameda Free Library.

• Gifts are accepted only with the understanding that the Library Board has the right to determine retention, location and other considerations relating to the use or disposal of the donated gift.

• The Library Board may choose to display the gift or not.

• The Library Board may choose to sell the item and use the proceeds for any purpose appropriate to the library’s mission.

• The Library Board may transfer ownership of the item as it deems appropriate.


The Library Board does not have authority to consider acceptance of Gifts which the Donor feels is valued in excess of $25,000.  


Donor Conditions of Acceptance: In the case of gifts or donations, the donor’s conditions may affect whether or not the gift will be accepted.


Appraisal: The Library Board will not appraise the value of any gift for any reason, including income tax deductions. However, the Library Director, upon direction from the Library Board, will issue a gift receipt acknowledgement form at the donor’s request. Information on IRS rules and regulations regarding charitable deductions can be found in the U.S. Treasury, IRS publication 526 “Income Tax Deduction for Contributions”, or through the local Internal Revenue Office.


Adopted by the Alameda Free Library Board 03.11.15


It is our goal to have an atmosphere that is welcoming and comfortable, and safe for all as well as one that is conducive to the proper use of the Library. The public is expected to behave in a manner that is respectful of the Library's customers and staff, materials and equipment, and facilities and premises. A person who behaves otherwise will be required to leave the building. For the comfort and safety of Library customers, volunteers, and staff, and the protection of Library property, the following policy will be adhered to.

1. The Alameda Free Library will uphold all applicable laws and regulations in regard to public behavior.

2. Dangerous, destructive or illegal conduct, including but not limited to the following, will not be tolerated:

  • Possessing weapons and explosives is not allowed on Library property
  • Physically abusing or assaulting other customers or staff
  • Fighting or challenging to fight
  • Making violent and threatening statements
  • Engaging in or soliciting any sexual act
  • Possessing, consuming, or being under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs

Any customer displaying any of these behaviors will be instructed to leave the Library immediately. Subject to the Library Director’s Discretion, Police may be called and appropriate legal action may follow. In addition, based on the severity of the situation, a suspension of Library privileges for up to one year may be applied without advance warning or prior suspension.

3. Library customers shall be engaged in activities associated with the use of a public Library while in the building. Customers not engaged in reading, studying, using Library materials, or attending a class/program may be required to leave the building.

4. The following activities are not associated with the use of a public Library and are specifically prohibited:

  • Smoking
  • Sleeping
  • Open container beverages
  • Bringing food and/or drink into the Library; outside food may be consumed in Dewey’s Friends Café
  • Bringing animals into the Library, except for service animals
  • Abusing, misusing or vandalizing Library facilities, furnishings or equipment
  • Using harassing, insulting, offensive, loud, or abusive language
  • Rearranging or disarranging Library furnishings or materials
  • Damaging, mutilating, cutting pages from Library materials
  • Using rest rooms for washing clothes, bathing, or shaving
  • Bringing in bicycles, skateboards, in-line skates, etc. must be carried at all times
  • Entering areas posted "staff only"
  • Soliciting for money or other items, or selling any items
  • Soliciting or conducting surveys not authorized by the Library
  • Gambling and group activities which are disruptive to the Library environment
  • Noisy , boisterous, or disruptive activities
  • Unnecessary staring at or following another person about the Library with the intent to annoy that person
  • Disturbing or annoying anyone with loud and/or unreasonable noise, including but not limited to using electronic equipment or mobile telephones at a volume that disturbs others
  • Personally monopolizing Library space, seating, tables, or equipment to the exclusion of other customers or staff
  • Fraudulent use of another’s Library card and/or number for any purpose, including using another’s Library card to reserve or use Library computers
  • Refusal to follow reasonable direction from Library staff, including but not limited to leaving the Library during normal closing procedures or during an emergency evacuation

5. Maintain bodily hygiene that is not so offensive as to constitute a nuisance to other persons in the Library. Exuding pervasive odors, including pervasive fragrances caused by perfume or other scented products, which constitute a nuisance to other customers or staff. Shirts and shoes must be worn in the Library; bathing suits are prohibited.

6. Keep feet off chairs, tables and counters, and treat the collection, furnishings, facilities and equipment with care.

7. The Library is not responsible for lost, damaged or stolen personal property.

8. Adults are responsible for the conduct of minors in their charge and are required to monitor their behavior.

9. The Library is not responsible for the safety of minors left unattended.

10. Report criminal conduct or vandalism of any kind to staff immediately so the police can be called.

All bags and other articles are subject to inspection by Library staff or other authorized personnel. The Library reserves the right to limit the size and number of items brought into the Library.

Adopted by the Library Board on October 14, 1998 / Revised and adopted April 2011


Expulsion from Building/Suspension of Library Privileges

Failure to comply with the behavior policy will result in the offending customer(s) being asked to leave the Library and staff may call the police for noncompliance with this policy for behavior; continued noncompliance will result in suspension of Library privileges.

The Director delegates to Library supervisors, and by extension any Library staff member, the authority to request a customer leave the building. Customers misbehaving are generally given a warning and then asked to leave the facility. Particularly egregious behavior may warrant immediate expulsion from all Alameda Libraries. Customers asked to leave the facility for disciplinary reasons are at a minimum barred for the remainder of the day and/or evening.

A suspension may be one day, up to one year, depending on the conduct. The Director is authorized by the Alameda Free Library Board of Trustees to exclude from the privileges of the Library patrons who repeatedly violate the library policy.

Physical force will not be used by any Library personnel to remove a customer from the building. As appropriate, other Library staff on duty may accompany an employee when a customer is to be informed that s/he is requested to leave the building or is not permitted to take this action. If the customer resists and immediate removal is needed, the police will be contacted.

Adopted by the Library Board on October 14, 1998 / Revised and adopted April 2011


Borrowing Rules
When you sign your library card, you agree to follow the rules and regulations of the library.

Your assigned 4 digit PIN number is the last 4 digits of your phone number.  If you prefer another PIN number, you may ask Library staff to change it, or change it yourself through the Library website in the PROFILE screen.


The following rules apply to the borrowing of materials from the library.

1. You are responsible for all items borrowed on your card.

2. Books, magazines, and audio cassettes are loaned for 3 weeks and may be renewed once providing there are no holds placed on that title.

3. Books, audio cassettes and magazines may be renewed by telephone.

4. To replace a lost or stolen card, a fee of $2 will be charged.

5. Damaged barcodes are subject to a replacement cost of $0.50 each.

6. You will be charged a fine for each overdue item. You will not be charged for days the library is closed.

7. You may use your card at the Main library and all branches. You must have your library card with you to check out materials.

8. Library cards may be used to check out up to 10 magazines, 5 video titles, 5 audio titles, 5 DVDs, 2 Playaways and a reasonable number of books at any one time. However, there is a limit of 4 books per subject at the Main library and 4 books per subject from the children's collection and at the branches.


Purchase Request

If you would like the Library to purchase a title that isn't currently in our collection, please fill out this form and make certain to check "Purchase Request". Your request will be submitted to the collection development Librarian for that subject.                      


Interlibrary Loan Service
The Alameda Free Library can call upon a national network of lending libraries if a requested title is not available in our collection. The final decision on whether or not to lend an item is left to the discretion of the lending library, so acquisition of requested items is not guaranteed. Any fees imposed by the lending library are the responsibility of the Alameda customer. The Alameda customer is also responsible for any late, lost or damaged fees. To make an Interlibrrary Loan request you can complete this form, or contact a Librarian at any of our locations.

Large Print Books
Fiction and non-fiction books with easy-on-the-eyes typeface are available in the Main Library and the branches.

Loan Periods
You may borrow all items for three weeks. You may renew most items for three more weeks, unless another patron has placed it on reserve. Because of high demand, Videos and DVDs cannot be renewed.


You may renew items in person at any Alameda Free Library location, by telephone by calling (510) 523-7091, or online at Have your library card and the item to be renewed at hand when calling.

Special Services
Alameda Reads: Adult Literacy Program, (510) 865-2454
Specially trained volunteers provide one-on-one tutoring in reading and writing for English-speaking adults.

Outreach Service, (510) 747-7742
Upon request, the library will deliver books to patrons who are unable to visit the library or are in convalescent hospitals.

State Law protects the contents of library patron records.


Under this law, library employees are prohibited from sharing information about what a patron has checked out with anyone else, even parents and spouses.


Under this law, no one outside library staff, can find out what you are reading or viewing without your consent or a court order.


Under this law, we are not permitted to do any of the following:

  • Tell a parent what a child has checked out (even if a fine is owed on that material)
  • Give an item on hold to a husband, wife or parent, even when they have the library card that was used to hold the book
  • Provide access to library records to law enforcement without a search warrant.

As a library patron, you can permit other people to know what you have checked out or to pick up library holds for you, however, you must provide a signed note specifically allowing that person to have access to your library records.


Minor Patrons
The Library has the responsibility to protect each individual library user's right to confidentiality and privacy regardless of age. If a library cardholder is 16 years old or under, the parent or guardian who signed for the child’s card may be given specific information regarding that child's record.

  • If the parent or guardian is in possession of the child's card, they may be given any information in the child’s record.
  • If the child's card is not in the parent's or guardian's possession, the information provided will be limited to:          

       Fines/Fees owed  


If you like, we can provide you with a copy of the statute (Government Code Title 1, Division 7, Chapter 3.5, Sec. 6267).


Thank you for helping us to conform to this law regarding the privacy of library records.


PUBLIC RECORDS ACT (Protection of Library Records)

(Government Code Title 1, Division 7, Chapter 3.5)


Sec. 6267. Registration and circulation records of libraries supported by public funds.


All registration and circulation records of any library which is in whole or in part supported by public funds shall remain confidential and shall not be disclosed to any person, local agency, or state agency except as follows:


(a) By a person acting within the scope of his or her duties within the administration of the library.
(b) By a person authorized, in writing, by the individual to whom the records pertain, to inspect the records.
(c) By order of the appropriate superior court.


As used in this section, the term “registration records” includes any information which a library requires a patron to provide in order to become eligible to borrow books and other materials, and the term “circulation records” includes any information which identifies the patrons borrowing particular books and other material. This section shall not apply to statistical reports of registration and circulation nor to records of fines collected by the library.



Exam Proctoring


The Reference Department of the Alameda Free Library provides proctoring services for written, open book examinations and certain online examinations. We are pleased to offer these services to distance learners as part of our commitment to the lifelong learning and continuing education needs of the community. Services are offered under the following guidelines:

  • Proctoring is only offered at the Main Library. Exams must be scheduled by the Reference Staff.
  • The exam must be an open book exam and can be a paper or online exam
  • Any professional librarian on duty at the time the student comes in may proctor the exam 
  • Tests must run no longer than 2 hours if using a Study Room. Study rooms will only be held for 15 minutes from the reserved start time. After that the room reservation will be cancelled.
  • For tests needing longer than 2 hours to complete, the student will need to use one of the study tables on the main library floor.
    Students may use their personal laptops


  • The library will:

  • Receive a copy of the exam by U. S. mail, courier or email
  • Verify the student’s identification at the time of the test 
  • Provide a place near the Reference Desk to take the exam 
  • Log the student into their testing website or provide the physical exam (sent by institution)
  • Record the time the student begins and finishes the exam, if required
  • Certify that the exam has been monitored under these conditions
  • Return the completed exam, if required, by mail or email as requested by the institution. If returning by mail, student is responsible to provide a return envelope and postage.

The student is responsible for:

  • Ensuring that their institution approves the minimum guidelines above, in bold
  • Contacting the library to arrange a time to take the exam. Student should, preferably, contact the library via email at . Alternately the student may contact the Reference Desk by phone at 510-747-7713.
  • Notifying the library of the need to cancel or modify the reservation
  • Ensuring ahead of time that the test and all instructions have been received by the library
  • Monitor their own time and ensure that they complete the exam within the allotted time.
  • Providing a return envelope and postage for returning the exam

The library is unable to:

  • Accept  or return exams by fax
  • Return exams by FedEx, unless the student arranges for a pick up at the Library 
  • Monitor closed book exams 
  • Ensure a quiet testing area 
  • Check on student activity during the exam process 
  • Maintain time control over segments of a test, or the entire test
  • Keep any exam left at the library longer than one month


To set up an appointment or for further information, please call the Reference Department at (510) 747-7713 during library open hours.



Fines for most overdue items from the Adult collection are twenty cents per item per open day. The maximum fine is $5 per item for books and other materials.

For Video cassettes and DVDs, the fine is $1 per title per open day.
The maximum fine is $10 per video.

Fines for items from the Children's collection are ten cents per item per open day.
The maximum fine is $3 per item.


Lost or Damaged items are charged the library's replacement cost PLUS a $5.00 non-refundable service charge. Items may not be replaced with a similar purchased item without express consent from the book selector and the $5.00 service charge would still apply.

You may place 52 free reserves in a calendar year.
Additional reserves will be charged $0.50 per item.


Library accounts are considered in "good standing" when any combination of fines, fees, and/or lost materials is less than $10.00.

Accounts are blocked from library privileges when any combination of fines, fees, and/or lost materials exceed $10.00; further, when a library account exceeds $25.00 in any combination of fines, fees, and/or lost materials a final notice of Unresolved Charges is sent to the card holder.  If no action is taken to resolve the account, the account is automatically referred to the library collection agency, Unique National Collections, to assist in the recovery of materials and resolution of fines & fees owed.



The Alameda Free Library Board encourages and appreciates donations of all kinds.  The Library Board and the Library Director work with two 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations that are chartered to support the libraries by developing and implementing donations of all types to provide supplemental funding to the library community.  The two organizations are the Friends of the Alameda Free Library, commonly called the “Friends,” and the Alameda Free Library Foundation, commonly called the “Library Foundation.”  The Friends and the Library Foundation also assist the library administration in providing ideas for special projects, programs, equipment, and collection needs which would benefit from private support.


The Friends of the Alameda Free Library is a volunteer organization. The Alameda Friends group was founded in 1973 to increase public awareness of the Library as an essential part of the community and to support the Library in developing services and facilities. What else do the Friends do?  They hold semi-annual sales of donated books; fund children’s and teen programs; sponsor author nights and other special events; donate magazine subscriptions  to Juvenile Hall; support the library literacy program, Alameda Reads; serve as advocates for state and local funding; publish a Friends newsletter; and most importantly, stimulate community awareness of all Library Services.


The Alameda Free Library Foundation was created in 1998 by a group of visionary community leaders.  The Library Foundation had three purposes: to replace the Carnegie Library with a more modern, accessible institution, which would include Public Art; to enhance the operational funding for the Library in order to improve collections, technology, and programming; and to build an ongoing base of private funding support for the Library.  Contributions for the Main Library and its branches should be given to the Library Foundation, which is the preferred recipient for private gifts because it has established the infrastructure to track, acknowledge, and recognize these gifts.

Within the guidelines that follow, the Alameda Free Library works with the Friends and the Library Foundation in receiving donations.


Contributions of Materials


General Policy

All books, materials, personal property items, furniture, and equipment donated to the library become the sole property of the library (public property). Donors are responsible for transporting items to the library.  No conditions may be imposed on the library in its acceptance of any gift or donation.   The Library retains unconditional ownership of the gift.  The Library makes the final decision on the use or disposition of the gift.


The Library welcomes books in good condition.  Most book donations shall be given to the “Friends of the Alameda Free Library” for use in library fund-raising projects such as the semi-annual sale.   By request, donated books are evaluated by the subject area specialist for consideration as additions to the library collection.  Few donated books are added to the library collection.


Other Materials

Weekly magazines are welcomed if they are less than one month old. Monthly magazines not more than three months old are also accepted. Most magazines will be placed in the free Magazine Exchange bins located in the Main Library Café and at both the West End Library and the Bay Farm Library. All categories of audiovisual items in good condition are also accepted by the Friends for inclusion in the book sales.



Donations of equipment are appreciated if the item(s) satisfies a definite need or deemed necessary for the development of a program or establishment of a collection.


Personal Property

Art objects, portraits, antiques, and museum quality objects are considered for acceptance on a case-by-case basis. If accepted, the library is not able to guarantee permanent display or ownership of an item.


Real Estate

Gifts of Real Estate are encouraged but are considered for acceptance on a case-by-case basis.  Proposed gifts of real estate are not accepted by the City in the absence of action by the City Council.  If accepted, the Library will promptly notify the Risk Manager of the transaction so the property will be properly insured.  Without a guaranteed source of monetary support, the library is not able to insure the library’s permanent ownership of donated real estate.  The donor is urged to arrange a secure source of funding of operations and maintenance or the library retains the option to distribute the Real Estate to benefit the library. 


Monetary Contributions


General Policy

Monetary donations are most welcome by the library. Gifts may be made toward the purchase of library materials or for support of operations, programs, or facility enhancement. The library reserves the right to decline a monetary donation if the conditions of the donation are deemed unsuitable or inappropriate for the library.


Monetary gifts are welcomed from individuals, businesses/corporations, non-profit/for-profit organizations and other entities. Matching gifts by employers are encouraged. Gifts of securities received by the library shall be sold as soon as practicable at market rate, and the proceeds used as deemed best for library needs.



Donations made to honor an individual or an event is encouraged.


Bequests & Endowments

Endowments to provide continuing support of programs, collections or facility enhancements are welcomed. Information and special giving programs are available through the Library Foundation; e.g. charitable remainder trusts, charitable lead trusts, donor advised funds, insurance options, etc.   



All donations for which the donor does not request anonymity shall be acknowledged by the Library Director or appropriate Department Head with a letter of appreciation. The library cannot provide appraisals.  It is the responsibility of the donor to assign a monetary value to the gift for tax purposes. For a monetary gift given in memorial, tribute, bequest, or in recognition of someone, a letter shall be sent to the person or family of the person being honored.


Books and Materials

Books and materials delivered to the library shall be acknowledged, if requested, at the time of delivery with a standard “Book Donation” card that acknowledges receipt.   



Funding of equipment, furniture, or artwork valued at $500 or more shall be recognized with a plaque engraved with the donor’s name.  


Major Contributions

Gifts of $5,000 or more, to the Library Foundation, by individuals, organizations, or businesses shall be recognized with permanent individual wall plaques prominently displayed in the library.    


Benefactor Contributions

Gifts of such magnitude that change the course of library services may be considered for naming privileges on a case-by-case basis.  These gifts may be made directly to the Library or directed through the Library Foundation.


Adopted by the Alameda Free Library Board 03.14.07

In keeping with its mission to provide an inviting and comfortable place where people of all ages develop and enjoy a love of learning and reading, connect with the online world, and find the information they need for daily living, the Alameda Free Library provides users with access to the Internet.

The Library adheres to the principles of intellectual freedom as expressed in the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights. All Library computers must be used in a manner that upholds this policy and adheres to the Alameda Free Library’s Behavior in the Library Policy.

The Internet is a global electronic network that is vast, dynamic, and unregulated. Because of this, information may not be accurate, current, or complete. Internet users need to be good information consumers, critically evaluating everything they read. The Alameda Free Library makes no warranty, expressed or implied, for the timeliness, accuracy, or usefulness of information obtained via the Internet. Internet users are warned that the Internet is not a secure medium and that privacy of e-mail and other communications is not guaranteed. The Library is not liable for any direct or indirect, incidental, or consequential damages, including lost data, information, or income, sustained or incurred in connection with the use, operation, or inability to use the Internet.

Some information, commentary, or graphic images may be offensive or disturbing to library patrons. Internet users are responsible for selecting which sites they visit. Internet users should be aware that Library computers are in a public area and others may be involuntarily exposed to what is displayed on the computer screen.

The Alameda Free Library supports parents and guardians in their efforts to guide their children's intellectual and social development. Parents are encouraged to review the guidelines for Internet use on the website, Child Safety on the Information Highway and to discuss appropriate use with their children. The Library may provide filtering software on selected Internet stations that have been designated for use by children. These products attempt to screen out what may be offensive or inappropriate, especially to children, on the Internet. For more information about filtering software and how it works, ask a librarian at the Reference Desk. Even with the use of filtering software, the Library cannot guarantee that children will be protected from all offensive material. As with other resources in the Library, it is the sole right and responsibility of the parents or guardians to provide any monitoring or restriction of their own child's access to the Internet.

Library staff is available to assist Internet users in accessing the Internet and software on library computers, to offer searching suggestions, to demonstrate printer functions, and to answer questions as time permits. Staff cannot provide in-depth individual assistance. The Library offers classes, which teach basic computer and Internet-searching skills.

Users must comply with US copyright law. This means that use of the Library's computers for the transmission, dissemination, and/or duplication of information is regulated under various state and federal laws. Additionally, Internet users are subject to any applicable local, state, and federal statutes.

Adopted by the Library Board on October 14, 1998

Update approved by the Library Board May 9, 2018



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