Library Policies & Procedures

Patron Privacy

Privacy of Library Accounts & Records

East Lake Community Library staff members respect and promote the individual's right to privacy concerning use of library resources and materials. Library accounts are maintained with the highest degree of security. Information within library accounts may be used only for the purpose of providing library services. This information is not shared with any other individual, including family members. Library staff will not reveal the identity of patrons or materials checked out, except as required by law (Florida Statute Section 257.261).

Your Rights of Privacy & Confidentiality
The Rights of Privacy and Confidentiality include but are not limited to these services:
•    Materials checked out at the Circulation and Reserves Desk
•    Interlibrary Loan and Intercampus Loan
•    Reference questions, interviews, and consultations
•    Database search records
•    Use of library facilities, equipment, or services
•    Discussions with library staff concerning your account, fines, and money owed

Florida Statute 257.261 reads in part: All registration and circulation records of every public library, except statistical reports of registration and circulation, are confidential and exempt from the provisions of s.119.07(1) and from s.24(a) of Article I of the State Constitution.

Except in accordance with proper judicial order, a person may not make known in any manner any information contained in such records, except as provided in this section. As used in the section, the term "registration records" includes any information that the library requires a patron to provide in order to become eligible to borrow books and other materials, and the term "circulation records" includes all information that identifies the patrons who borrow particular books, and other materials...In the case of a public library patron under the age of 16, a public library may only release confidential information relating to the parent or guardian of the person under 16. Any person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.


Patron Code of Conduct

I. Policy 
This code of conduct is intended to encourage behavior, which supports the Library mission - strengthening our community through inspiration, enrichment, and education. Behavior becomes unacceptable when it interferes with this mission, impinges on the rights of others, causes damage to buildings or equipment, or causes injury to oneself or others. Those willing to modify unacceptable behavior are always welcome to stay. However, those unable to comply will be asked to leave. If necessary, the authorities will be called.

II. Principles of Conduct  
The Library serves various functions for library members, including that of a community information center, a place to study, and a place to find cultural and recreational materials and activities. All of these require traffic, movement, and discourse. In balancing these various roles and functions, a reasonable noise level is expected and generally believed to be acoustically unavoidable. When in the Library, patrons must observe the following principles of conduct: 
•    Speak in normal or quiet tones of voice
•    Respect others, including their rights and personal property 
•    Respect Library property and staff 
•    Maintain responsibility for the safety, well-being, and conduct of children in their charge 
•    Refrain from actions that are disruptive to other library members 
•    Place cell phones and pagers on vibrate feature; hold conversations outside the building

III. Library Member Prohibited Activities  
The following are examples of behaviors (but not limited to) that seriously interfere with the activities normally associated with the use of a public library and are prohibited in the East Lake community Library: 
•    Smoking 
•    Sleeping 
•    Eating, drinking, or displaying food in open containers 
•    Disturbing or annoying anyone by loud/unreasonable noise or movement, including, but not limited to, using audible devices without headphones, or with headphones set at a volume that disturbs others 
•    Use of abusive, threatening, harassing, or insulting language 
•    Animals (except trained assistance animals) 
•    Improper acts which are subject to prosecution under criminal or civil codes of law
•    Vehicles and other objects which constitute potential safety hazards to patrons 
•    Objects placed adjacent to any exit or entrance on the inside or outside of the facility which pose a safety hazard to persons entering or exiting the facility 
•    Lack of shirt or footwear 
•    Personally monopolizing library space, seating, tables, or equipment to the exclusion of other patrons or staff 
•    Soliciting, selling, or begging 
•    Unattended children under the age of 10 
•    Bathing, shaving, washing clothes or other misuse of restrooms 
•    Distribution or posting of printed materials not approved by ELCL administration 
•    Loitering, including refusal to leave at closing or emergency evacuation 
•    Possessing, consuming or being under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs 
•    Unruly/offensive behavior such as viewing pornography 

V. Violations of Library Member Principles of Conduct 
Library Staff have the authority to deal firmly but courteously with library members who are violating the Library Member Principles of Conduct and Library Member Prohibited Activities. Actions taken by staff may include making the library member aware that the behavior violates the principles of conduct or is a prohibited activity, warning the library member that he/she will have to leave if the behavior does not change, and telling the library member to leave the library. In some cases, the library member may be escorted from the building by staff or the police. Anyone known to have violated the principles of conduct and prohibited activities of the Library may be excluded from the Library and its programs as a matter of administrative policy. If the behavior involves illegal activity, such as child molestation, indecent exposure, or destruction of Library property such as computer equipment, library staff has full authority to call the police. Based upon the severity of the situation, a suspension of library privileges may be applied without advance warning or prior suspension. 

The suspension shall remain in effect pending periodic administrative review. The library administrator's decision shall be final.


Collection Development

This document provides the staff and public with an understanding of the purpose and nature of the Library's collection. It explains the criteria staff use for making decisions to add or withdraw items in the collection.

We are dedicated to the free and open distribution of ideas. The Library is primarily a government-funded agency. The First Amendment of the Constitution ensures that ideas, even ideas that some find offensive, cannot be restricted by the government. Furthermore, it is the responsibility of the Library to provide a wide-range of ideas, opinions and information necessary for the functioning of a democratic society. We are dedicated to free and open use for all. No restriction is placed on the use of the Library's collection based on age, race, sex, nationality, educational background, physical limitations, or any other criteria that may be the source of discrimination.

We are dedicated to protecting individuals’ rights to decide for themselves and for their own children what library materials to use. Materials will not be added or removed from the collection, based upon protecting users from the contents of the materials. We strongly encourage all parents who wish to restrict their own children’s use of the Library to establish guidelines for their own children's use of library materials.

The inclusion of any item in the Library's collection does not constitute an endorsement by the Library of the item's contents. The Palm Harbor Community Services Agency Board upholds the principles of intellectual freedom as stated in the American Library Association's "Library Bill of Rights" (see below).

Cooperative Collection Development
To supplement its collection, the East Lake Community Library makes use of materials borrowed from other county libraries through the Pinellas Public Library Cooperative. There is also reciprocal borrowing with neighboring counties throughout Tampa Bay as well as our Interlibrary Loan Service (ILS) for difficult-to-find items.

Interlibrary Loan, however, is not a substitute for the development of adequate collections based on the needs of a member library's service area and patrons. Requests for titles are evaluated for potential use and cost- effectiveness, and may be added to the collection despite the existence of copies in other libraries. In addition, when areas in the collection are inadequate to meet regular patron demand, purchases are made to correct the situation rather than relying on requesting items from other libraries.
The East Lake Community Library also provides online databases and a variety of e-resources, including downloadable books and movies, current periodicals and topics of general interest, providing efficiencies in costs while meeting patron demands. 

The Library cannot expect to fill every patron request from its own shelves. Libraries are being used more than ever before, and more is being printed and produced in other formats. The purpose of cooperative collection development is to assist the Library in meeting patron demands for materials that lie outside the scope of the Library's collection.

It is the Library's responsibility to weave many considerations when purchasing an item. These areas include the content, the potential use, the need, the purpose, the medium, and the format of the content to best meet the users need. Other considerations in selecting a format include cost and available space for storage and display. New formats purchased by the Library are based on these user needs. Therefore digital (including online databases and downloadable resources) or print materials may be determined as the best format to provide certain information to Library users.

Selection Process
Materials are selected after professional librarians and other experienced members of the Library staff consult a variety of print and online media reviews. Support staff may recommend titles as well as work on the weeding, ordering, and collection management of the library collections. First, the Library staff attempts to meet patrons' demands. Second, materials are purchased that are both pertinent and timely. Because of limited resources and space and because the Library has access to other libraries' collections, the relevance of materials to our collection is especially considered. 

The Library purchases audio-visual materials as part of its collection development. Selection of audio-visual materials will be based on the same criteria used throughout the selection process.

The Library welcomes requests for purchase of materials for the library, and requests will be subject to the same criteria for selection as other considered materials. Selection of materials for the Library collection is an ongoing process which includes the removal of materials no longer appropriate and the replacement of lost and worn materials that are still of value for informational or recreational needs.

The term weeding is used to describe the activity of seeking out items that are no longer useful or appropriate for the collection. These items are then discarded and may or may not be replaced. Weeding the library collection is as much a routine as the acquisition of new books. The purpose of discarding materials from the collection is to maintain an accurate and up to date collection for library patrons. Materials which are inaccurate, outdated, unused, or in poor condition detract from the usefulness and aesthetic appeal of the collection. These materials take up shelf space that could be occupied by needed and requested materials.

Weeding the collection is an ongoing process and is the responsibility of the librarians. The goal of the East Lake Community Library is that each section of the collection is to be weeded on an ongoing basis to keep the collection accurate. Special attention is paid to Medical, Computer Science and Technology, and travel materials, as they become dated rapidly.

Materials are discarded from the collection using the CREW guidelines for weeding. The acronym CREW stands for Continuous Review, Evaluation, and Weeding. Items that are weeded from the collection include ones that are: misleading or factually inaccurate; damaged, soiled or worn; outdated or superseded by a new edition or newer title on the same subject; trivial or have no discernible literary or scientific merit; irrelevant to the needs and interests of the community or contain information that may be obtained more easily elsewhere. Materials that have not circulated in a chosen time period, duplicate titles no longer needed, or damaged materials are also considered for discarding.

Items in damaged or outdated condition will be thrown away. Items in good condition that have been removed from the collection may be sold by the Friends of the Library, used in our local Little Free Libraries, or donated to charitable agencies.


Lost or Damaged Materials

Materials are loaned by the library with the understanding that the borrower will return them in the same condition and by the due date established by the library.


  • Replacement Costs

Full replacement cost will be charged for any periodicals or cataloged materials that are lost or damaged so badly that they have to be replaced. Audiovisual equipment—full cost of repairs will be charged, (or replacement cost if not repairable).


  • Claims Returned

A customer can have a maximum of two (2) “claim returned” items in active status. Any items “claim returned” over that limit will be billed.


  • Damaged Materials

The borrower may keep any damaged materials for which full replacement cost has been paid.


  • Minor Damage

The customer will be charged for minor damage and missing parts of items returned at the appropriate replacement value. This value is determined by the library director in accordance with current market value.


  • Continued Delinquency

Persons failing to return materials and/or pay for damaged materials may be subject to prosecution under applicable law or may be referred to the County Attorney’s office for Court action. When judgments are found in favor of the library, the person will be assessed court costs, plus an additional library handling charge. The library may also choose to use a collection agency to retrieve delinquent materials. Any costs to the library may be passed on to the customer.


Internet Use

Library computers are provided to customers for the purpose of accessing information and reference resources. In order to make these resources available to as many customers as possible and to make sure that the equipment is used in a manner consistent with the Library Code of Conduct, the following rules apply:

  • In order to allow all customers an opportunity to use the equipment, customers may be asked to comply with sign-in and time limitations.

  • Because computers are located in a public area, what you view is not private. Please be considerate of other library users and refrain from displaying materials that might reasonably be considered objectionable.

  • In accordance with Florida Statutes, Chapters 847.011(1)a and 847.0133(1), displaying obscene materials to minors or printing such materials may be a violation of the law and could result in penalties up to and including imprisonment.

  • Misuse of library computers will result in the loss of computer privileges, potential loss of library privileges and possible prosecution. Such misuse includes, but is not limited to: damaging or altering computer equipment or software; downloading or installing any program on the hard drive of any computer; sending, displaying or printing inappropriate material.

  • No food or drink allowed in the computer area.


Interlibrary Loan (ILL)

Items not available in our collection can usually be obtained from other libraries through Interlibrary Loan. Patrons wishing to retrieve sources using Interlibrary Loan must be in good standing with the library as far as fines and overdues. You request an item through interlibrary loan by asking a staff member, either in person or via telephone or email. Please provide the title, author, publisher, and date of publication, along with your name and phone number.


Once we receive your ILL request, it generally takes from several days to three weeks for you to get the materials. Any charges from the loaning institution will be passed on to the library user.


Interlibrary loan requests may be limited subject to copyright restrictions and/or availability of resources.


Library users who request an item via interlibrary loan and fail to pick it up within five (5) days of notification may be assessed a fee in addition to any fees or charges assessed by the lending library, or have interlibrary loan privileges suspended or limited.

NOTE: East Lake Community Library ILL materials will be loaned for 28 days with no renewals permitted.



Due to the Community Room's use during COVID-19 as a quarantine area for library materials, this area is closed to the public until further notice; also, Study Rooms are being utilized as staff work areas to abide by social distancing guidelines.


The Library premises are available for the use of members of the public to meet their needs in accessing information and for quiet enjoyment of library materials and equipment. The Library premises are also available as an educational support center. As part of its educational mission, the Library permits some tutoring on the premises in accordance with this policy.

  • The Library offers its space to those tutors who are authorized by the local Boards of Education to provide Homebound Instruction.  The library also provides space to tutors who are volunteering their time via ESL or Literacy Volunteers.


  • Tutors who are being paid via private enterprise, that is, privately from a parent or caregiver, should not use the public space for their profit.  PAID TUTORS SHALL NOT advertise or advocate the Library as their place of business.  Library programs and needs shall at all times supersede private enterprise, or paid private tutoring. However, the Community Room is available to ANYONE for tutoring, homework help, etc. free of charge when it is available.

In all cases, tutors should come prepared to assist the students in his or her educational goal.  The library cannot provide resources such as calculators, graphing paper, flash drives, markers, etc.

ALL tutoring shall end 15 minutes before the library closes, so that staff may begin closing procedures.


Due to a severe lack of space in our library, study rooms and other public areas cannot be used for tutoring so that we can have adequate seating for our other patrons.


In line with Meeting Room policies and procedures:

  1. Setup and takedown of all tables & chairs must be done by the individuals using the room; if tables are already set up, we ask that you return them to the perimeter of the room when you leave.

  2. Any damage to carpeting, etc. will be the responsibility of the tutor and may result in an assessment and/or loss of use of the Community Room for tutoring purposes.

  3. Library staff cannot be asked to take messages, call parents of students, provide supplies, or reserve tables. Availability is on a first-come, first-served basis.

  4. Please check the library’s online calendar to determine if and when the Community Room is available; library programs and meetings take precedence.

  5. The Library reserves the right to limit tutoring activities if space resources are monopolized or activities interfere with Library operations.


Unattended Children

The East Lake Community Library welcomes the use of its services and facilities by children. Staff members are committed to the well-being and safety of children. However, library facilities are not designed or licensed to provide basic childcare needs or emergency care if the child becomes upset or ill.

Any public place may be dangerous for a child who is left unattended. Arrangements should be made ahead of time for children to be picked up after programs.

The Library reminds parents to consider the safety and well-being of their children and the needs of other library users of all ages. Children should be supervised at all times and reminded that the materials in the library are to be respected and treated with care.

Children under the age of 10 may not be left unattended in the library or on library property. They must be directly supervised by a responsible adult or caregiver 16 years or older, with no exceptions. This does not apply to children in library-sponsored programs.

Children age 10 and over may use the library unattended provided that their behavior is not disruptive. Parents are responsible for the actions of their children in the library and on library grounds whether or not the parent is present. Parents will also be responsible for any disturbance or damage done to the library by their child. Disruptive children, older than nine years of age may be asked to leave the library after one warning. In such instances, parents will be contacted or, if the parent is unavailable, police custody will be utilized.

The library must not be used as a childcare service.  Any child unaccompanied by a responsible adult or a caregiver for an extended period of time may be approached for information concerning his/her parent’s availability.  The parents will be notified of library policy.  If the situation continues, proper authorities will be notified.

If a minor under the age of 16 is left unattended at the time of closing and attempts to reach the parents have failed, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office may be called to take responsibility for the child.


Service Animals

Other than animals that serve as a service animal, as defined below, and animals that are participating in a library event, no animals are allowed in the East Lake Community Library nor are they allowed to be unattended within 25 feet of the entrances to the library building.

The definition of a "service animal" means an animal that is trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Added to that definition is alerting an individual to the presence of allergens, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to an individual with a mobility disability, helping an individual with a psychiatric or neurological disability by  preventing or  interrupting  impulsive  or  destructive  behaviors,  reminding an individual with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming an individual with posttraumatic stress disorder during an anxiety attack, or doing other specific work.

Please note that the service animal must be under the control of its handler and must have a harness, leash, or other tether, unless either the handler is unable because of a disability to use a harness, leash, or other tether, or the use of a harness, leash, or other tether would interfere with the service animal's safe, effective performance of work or tasks, in which case the service animal must be otherwise under the handler's control by means of voice control, signals, or other effective means.

A service animal may be excluded from a public facility if the animal is out of control and the animal's handler does not take effective action to control it, or if the animal is not housebroken or otherwise poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others.


Virtual Programming Policy
In an effort to reach the greatest volume of patrons and to continue to provide library programming during times when physical space is not available, social distancing is mandated, or the facility is closed, the library will also offer virtual programs. These programs will utilize a library approved virtual meeting platform that registered patrons may use to access virtual programs from their own devices. Library virtual programs may be hosted by a staff member or an outside presenter. It will be the host’s responsibility to deal with any technological, logistical, or behavioral issues that may arise. While hosting the virtual program, the library will follow standard industry best practices for virtual events such as muting attendees, locking the event after the program has begun, etc.

All virtual programs will require patrons register in advance, and library staff will  e-mail registered patrons a link to log in prior to the day of the program. Those not registered before the start of a virtual program will not be allowed to attend. Patrons attending library virtual programs are expected to adhere to the East Lake Community Library’s Code of Conduct while in attendance, and failure to do so during a virtual program may result in their removal from future programs.  In accordance with Library policies, outside presenters are prohibited from the sale of products or services nor are they to have access to personal information of the attendees. Programs are not used for commercial, religious, or partisan purposes or the solicitation of business. External organizations or individuals partnering with the Library on programs must coordinate marketing efforts with the Library’s staff and secure staff approval before distributing any promotional materials. Library sponsorship of a program does not constitute an endorsement of the content of the program or the views expressed by participants or speakers.

While the East Lake Community Library will make its best good faith effort to utilize a virtual program platform that will be compatible with the widest array of hardware and operating systems, the Library makes no guarantees that every patron will be capable of accessing library programming virtually using their personal devices or internet connections. Furthermore, the Library makes no guarantees of the quality of the audio or visual aspects of its virtual programs, nor of the stability of the internet connection. All online activity comes with some degree of risk and agree the library is not liable for any emotional or financial damages that may result from attending a library virtual event.


Food and Allergies

The library recognizes that reactions of individuals to food allergies may result in serious medical conditions. The library also acknowledges that individuals have dietary restrictions due to cultural, religious and/or medical reasons. In the course of offering programs and services at the library, food may be served or used as part of a craft or art activity. Patrons who have restricted diets and allergies are responsible for monitoring their own dietary needs. Parents, guardians, and/or custodial caregivers of minors attending library functions are responsible for their children’s dietary needs. The library will endeavor to provide a proposed menu for patrons if so requested. The library does not monitor food brought in by outside groups utilizing our facility.


Public Speech and Petitioners

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution allows certain types of speech on public sidewalks. The East Lake Community Library supports this right, and makes efforts to allow and encourage free speech while maintaining a safe and enjoyable library experience for patrons.

The library allows petitioners near the driveway and parking area, but not in the entryway or under the arcade overhang. The library does not permit use of landscaped areas on library property, except for certain Library-sanctioned events.

library staff may request identifying information from those using library sidewalks and/or grounds.

Persons using the library sidewalks may not block walking paths, stand in the way of people approaching the building, or harass library patrons. Persons using the sidewalks and/or grounds may not call out to patrons or passersby and may not create any kind of disturbance in front of the library.

Persons using the library sidewalks may set up a small table, so long as the table does not block the library entrance, the roadway, sidewalk or path of ingress to and egress from the entrance. The library prohibits persistent petitioning, soliciting or setting up any temporary or permanent furniture or display inside the arcade or arcade overhang or on any ramp or handicap parking area to ensure the smooth flow of traffic and safe and assured access in and out of the building.

Persons using the library sidewalks may carry signs, so long as those signs do not interfere with the reasonable access to the library. They may affix signs to their small table, but may not affix signs to the building or any other structure, fixture or plant on the property.

The library prohibits collection of fees or donations of any kind on library property and sales of any type, except during library-sanctioned events sponsored by authorized groups. The library has no obligation to, and will not provide any library-owned furniture or equipment for use on the library sidewalks or grounds, except for library-sanctioned events.

The library does not endorse the aims, policies, or activities of any group, organization, or individual using library sidewalks or grounds.


Self-Published Authors/Books

The library receives numerous requests from local authors to add their books which they have self- published, or published at their own expense through companies such as PublishAmerica.  Although this type of publishing is experiencing rapid growth, these books often do not meet the requirements outlined in the Materials Selection Policy to be candidates for the permanent collection. They typically have not received reviews in standard published sources, and may not meet the criteria that the library normally sets for inclusion in its collections.


The library wishes to support local authors while maintaining the standards needed in its permanent collections.


Guidelines for placement on the self are as follows:

  • Author must complete the Local Authors Submission Form

  • Authors must be Pinellas County residents, or the book must take place in Pinellas County, or otherwise demonstrate a strong local interest, e.g. a botanical study of Brooker Creek Preserve

  • Each book must be approved by the Collection Development librarian before being accepted for placement.

  • Books for the Local Authors collection will be accepted as donations from the author or publisher

  • A brief listing for the book will be created in the library catalog, so that borrowers may access them by title or author.

  • Books will be processed with a barcode and ELCL ownership markings. They will not be jacketed, bound, or covered.

  • Items will be clearly labeled as belonging to this special collection.

  • Items will rotate out of the collection and may be withdrawn after one year, unless they have circulated regularly.

  • Materials that are donated become the property of ELCL and as such cannot be returned to the donor.




Approved by the Library Director


East Lake Community Library  ·  4125 East Lake Road  ·  Palm Harbor, Florida  ·  34685  ·  727-773-2665 (BOOK)