Library Policies



The Alameda Free Library serves the community of Alameda, California, an island city of roughly 12.4 square miles in Alameda County, across the Bay from San Francisco. Alameda maintains a small town feeling in the midst of a large metropolitan area. The city was incorporated in 1884 and modern Alameda retains much of the character of its early days including old homes, buildings and streets lined with 100-year-old trees. It is a primarily a middle class community with the median family income of $68,000 and 6% of the families living below the poverty line.


Alameda is a diverse city with almost 50% of the 75,000 population reporting themselves as an ethnicity other than white: 26% Asian, 9% Hispanic, 6% African American, and 2% other ethnicity. Approximately one third of the population speaks a language other than English at home. The population is spread out in age with 21% of the population under the age of 18, 13% over the age of 65 and 66% between the ages of 19 and 64.





In 2002, in anticipation of a new library building, community input regarding community needs was elicited through workshops, forums, focus groups, interviews, community meetings, telephone polls and questionnaire. The results showed that the most frequently used materials were adult fiction and non-fiction, followed by paperbacks, children’s materials and media.


Respondents requested staff assistance most frequently with reference materials, less frequently for Internet or catalog use. Through meetings, teens expressed a need for more and better new fiction, more videos and other media. Senior citizens expressed a desire for more large print and media materials. The most frequent request was for better resources for students, especially more up-to-date materials of all kinds.


To support the goals of the Library’s Joint Use Agreement, the Library promoted expanded access to electronic resources for teachers and students, and access to a wealth of additional databases. The library also included an Alameda Unified School District supported, donated non-circulating textbook collection.


Respondents also wanted the Alameda Collection maintained and expanded. This rich array of historical materials contains books, pamphlets and clippings relating to Alameda’s history, some more than 100-years-old.


Several surveys were returned from respondents who wanted more foreign language materials for children and adults, especially in Chinese, Hindi and Korean. Key areas for improvement included expanding the international languages, and in particular, Asian languages.


Existing circulation and service patterns showed that patrons make good use of collections of popular and high interest print, electronic and media materials, and materials and programming for children.


In general the respondents wanted more of everything: computers, books, magazines, newspapers, DVDs and CDs.





Adult Collection


Adult Fiction:

The Adult Fiction collection at the Alameda Free Library is comprised of a wide variety of both popular and critically acclaimed works, as well as classics and genre fiction. The library makes every effort to acquire fiction which is representative of the cultural and ethnic community it serves and to satisfy the diverse interests and recreational needs of its users.


Adult Non-Fiction:

The Library aims to acquire materials which provide a core of basic knowledge. The Library selects, makes accessible, and promotes the use of materials which address contemporary issues, provide self-help information, facilitate continuing education, enhance job-related knowledge and skills, increase knowledge of affairs of the community, the country and the world, support business, cultural, recreational and civic interests in the community, nourish intellectual, aesthetic, creative and spiritual growth, and present different viewpoints on issues.



The Library recognizes the responsibility of schools and universities to provide access to required textbooks for their students.


With the exception of a small collection of middle and high school textbooks, donated by the school district, the Library does not acquire textbooks required for school curricula.


Reference Materials:

The library actively provides timely, accurate and useful information for community residents by phone, e-mail, instant message, and on-site. The collection emphasizes information materials that support individual, business, government and community interests and needs. The reference collection is extensive and includes standard materials such as encyclopedias, indexes, atlases, handbooks, and directories. In addition, the reference collection includes historical back files of magazines and indexes, and Alameda city newspaper clipping files.


Magazines and Newspapers:

The Library subscribes to a broad selection of popular magazines, and back issues are kept for an average of five years. Magazine titles are selected by staff and patron recommendation. Newspaper and magazine titles are subject to the same selection criteria as the general book collection.


The Library will begin to purchase “Zines.” Zines are small magazines, and are usually self-published. The Zine collection at the Library will focus on works published by local authors. Donations will be accepted on a case by case basis.


Newspaper choices emphasize the Bay Area, specifically Alameda, Oakland, and San Francisco. The collection includes several prominent national newspapers, such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal.


Public demand, indexing, and accessibility from other Bay Area libraries are factors which weigh heavily in the decision to carry back issues of either paper copy or microfilm.



The Library maintains a mass market paperback collection to provide recreational reading in popular areas of interest including classics, popular titles and authors, and genre fiction. This high turnover collection supplies multiple copies of books in demand. Paperbacks are continually replaced with fresh and attractive titles to attract browsing customers. Physical condition of the books and use by customers are bases for weeding paperbacks. Selection criteria are based on recommendations, and commercial catalogs.



Children’s Collection

Children have access to the entire collection. Limitations placed upon the reading materials of children are left to the discretion of the parents.


Materials in the Children’s Collection have been selected to provide children with library materials that meet their recreational and informational needs. Materials are chosen from reviews in journals or through book and media lists from established sources.


Because the Children’s Collection serves children from birth through eighth grade, some items may be included that might not be considered appropriate by all adults for all children. While some books are too mature for one child, other children may be ready for them. Only the child and his or her parents may decide what is suitable for that child to read.


The fiction collection consists primarily of children’s fiction from many genres. The non- fiction collection consists of practical informational books as well as books covering popular interest topics. Some teen titles of special interest to children are also included. A small collection of parenting and professional titles are available, but these are limited to special interest titles and are not meant to replace the materials in the Adult Collection.


Elementary and middle school libraries serve the curriculum needs of students. While not duplicating these resources or attempting to follow all the changes in curricula, the Alameda Free Library does recognize the need to provide a wide variety of cultural and recreational reading matter for students and to provide some basic class-related materials for students who are seeking to complete their assignments outside of school hours.


Special effort is made to continuously update the collection and to weed worn and outdated materials.



Young Adult Collection

The young adult collection is selected to respond to the recreational, educational and informational needs of teenaged library users at all library locations. It contains a variety of formats, including hardcover books, paperbacks, audio books, graphic novels and magazines. The collection contains teen fiction of high literary quality as well as popular series fiction spanning many genres; nonfiction titles on issues and biographies of interest to teenagers; some adult titles of special interest to teenagers; and textbooks supporting the curriculum at the local middle and high schools. Criteria for selecting materials for teenagers include popular demand, current usefulness and support for educational needs. Items for the collection are chosen from reviews in journals, through lists from established sources and by teen input.


Graphic Novels

The graphic novel format conveys information or tells stories through the medium of sequential art. The material can be fiction or non-fiction and be intended for adults, teens, or children. Graphic novels may contain collections of short stories, be multi- volume series, or stand alone.


There are three graphic novel collections, one in Adult, one in Teen, and one in Children’s. Materials for each collection are chosen from reviews in journals or through book lists from established sources. In accordance with the guidelines for the selection of all 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 a book’s overall value, rather than on isolated parts.


The graphic novel collection includes popular and literary fiction and non-fiction. Non- fiction titles in the collection are classified in the appropriate Dewey subject number, but are shelved as part of the graphic novel collections.



Special Collections


Alameda Collection:

The Alameda and California collections are heavily used by both residents and non- residents. The library responds to the needs of researchers, students, homeowners and interested individuals.


The Library primarily collects non-fiction reference materials which reflect the city’s historical and cultural development. Also included is fiction set in Alameda, non-fiction based in Alameda, biographies of Alamedans and materials written by Alamedans. The Library also collects and indexes local newspapers, cataloged reports of local city agencies, and files of old local city directories and local telephone books since 1943.

The library actively acquires current and past city-issued documents and materials, which are augmented with reports, agendas, and minutes from city boards and commissions.


California Collection:

This retrospective and current reference collection includes non-fiction books and booklets relating to California – its history, resources, economy and culture. Emphasis is placed on the immediate area; Northern California rather than Southern California; and especially on the San Francisco Bay region.


The Collection also contains such items as County histories, early guidebooks, published diaries and letters of early settlers and visitors, narratives, overland journeys to California; examples of fine printing about California. Fiction by California authors and/or about California is also included. More recently the library has concentrated on purchasing duplicate circulating copies of California Collection titles.




Other Materials


Electronic Databases:

The Library enhances the print collection by subscribing to commercial databases. Online computerized databases extend the collection by providing timely and versatile access to information in electronic format. Databases are used by the library staff to assist patrons with reference service. Many of the databases contain specialized information beyond the scope of the library’s print collections; others have information that does not exist in print format. Some databases duplicate print sources which are carefully evaluated for retention with consideration to cost, frequency of use, and ease of access to library users.


Music Recordings:

The music collection is selected for the cultural and recreational needs of library users. It contains a wide variety of musical styles, time periods, composers and performers, both classical and popular. Music recordings are available at all locations in compact disc (CD) format. Emerging formats will be considered as available. Criteria for selecting music include public demand, current usefulness, enduring value, quality of performance, relationship of items to existing collection, relative importance in comparison with other works, physical characteristics of the item and price. Items for the collection are chosen from reviews in journals, through lists from established sources and by patron suggestion.


DVD Collection:

The library’s DVD collection supplements the print and non-print collections and provides information which may not be available in any other format. Materials are considered in terms of timeliness, demand, quality, authority, price, balance, availability, content and value measured by reviews.


Selections are made in all categories, including feature films (classics and contemporary), documentaries, and non-fiction DVDs of all types.


Patron requests and suggestions are all considered carefully. When it is determined that a request meets other standards, such an item is generally purchased. These other qualifications are:


·  At least a generally favorable review from a recognized source.

·  A price that is in line with available funds.

·  Meeting standards of suitability, (no extreme sexual, violent or political content) need (based on items already on hand) and interest (a subjective standard based on experience, intuition, and discussion). Decisions for inclusion in the collection are made on the basis of a film’s overall value, rather than on isolated parts.


The library makes an effort to select:


·  Award winning films, festival selections, and various “best” lists.

·  Films that would appeal to a broad spectrum of the public, or if to a smaller group, that the appeal is relatively stronger.

·  Films that fill subject gaps, not only in the media collection, but the entire library collection as well.

·  Films that were well reviewed, but did not reach a broad audience upon release.

·  Films that include current or important points of view or perspective.

·  Older movies that are considered by a variety of sources, or perhaps just “accepted” as classics.


Video tapes are no longer actively collected as they are no longer readily available.


Audio Books:

The Audio Book Collection is primarily in CD format and consists primarily of fiction from many genres and of popular non-fiction. Selection criteria are excellence in quality of writing, narrative voice and style, vocal characterizations, appropriateness for audio format, enhancement of text, packaging, and patron demand. Materials are chosen based on reviews in journals or through book lists from established sources. Only unabridged recordings are purchased.


Large Type Collection:

The Alameda Library focuses on titles that will be of interest to the greatest number of large print patrons, including patrons that participate in the Library’s Homebound delivery program. Since large print editions of block buster popular fiction and nonfiction titles are published almost simultaneously with regular print editions, the library strives to provide large print editions as close to publication date as possible.


International Languages:

The Library has a small collection of books, magazines, newspapers and videos representing the languages that reflect Alameda’s ethnic diversity. Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Tagalog are the best represented. The Chinese language collection is currently the most-used.


Selection criteria depend on budget and material availability. Items acquired are of a general nature and reflect current and popular interest, ethnic history, culture and customs. Staff members with international language skills, pertinent background and expertise recommend specific titles for purchase.




Selection Responsibility

The initial responsibility for materials selection lies with the professional staff at the Library operating within the areas of service to children, young adults, and adults. All staff members and the general public may recommend material for consideration.


Ultimate responsibility for the Alameda Free Library materials collection resides with the Library Director.


Selection Sources

Sources for selection decisions include, among others: borrower requests or recommendations; publisher or vendor catalogs; advertisements; published reviews and electronic sources.


Selection Criteria

Librarians use their subject knowledge and expertise in combination with the criteria below to select and evaluate collection items for inclusion.


The basic test for selection of any item is whether it is of proven or potential interest to the people served. Other considerations include the quality, the material’s comprehensiveness and depth of treatment, representation of important movements, subjects, genres, or trends of local, regional, or national significance, and long-term or historical significance or interest.


Also taken into account is the reputation and qualifications of the author, creator, or publisher of the work, the attention of critics, reviewers and the public, the amount of similar materials already in the collection, and the extent to which the material may be found elsewhere in the community. In addition, the cost, physical format and shelf space requirements of the material are considered.


Materials are selected both to satisfy prevalent tastes, needs and reading abilities in the community and to provide diversity in recognition of changing and minority interests. In choosing materials to suit a variety of tastes, differing viewpoints on controversial issues will be included.


The library does not serve as censor of the reading of any member of the community. The library does not endorse all opinions expressed in the materials which are stocked. It should also be recognized that some materials chosen may be offensive, shocking or boring to some readers but may be meaningful and significant to others. Works being considered should be viewed as a whole, not in isolated parts.


Responsibility for the reading of minors rests with their parents or local guardians. Selection of adult material will not be restricted by the possibility that these materials may come into the possession of minors. The library should not be expected to act in loco parentis.





The library accepts monetary gifts and bequests intended for the purchase of library materials when donors' intentions for how the gift funds are to be used are consistent with the collections goals of the Alameda Free Library. Unless otherwise specified by the donor, materials purchased as the result of bequests are given a bookplate with the name of the person honored or the occasion commemorated.



Gifts of materials for the Library are gratefully acknowledged and are subject to the same selection criteria as are purchased materials. The Library reserves the right to make final disposition of all gifts received. Gifts may be added to the collection or rejected at the discretion of the Library. Gift materials not added to the collection are not returned to the donor. Unused gifts may be donated by the Library to the Friends of the Alameda Free Library for public sale. The proceeds are used for designated projects of the Friends that enhance the Library’s programs and collections.




Library collections are constantly changing. Maintenance of the collection through constant re-evaluation by the Library staff ensures its usefulness and relevancy to the community.


Condition, content, inherent value and use are the primary criteria used to determine the continued retention of materials in the collection. Many materials do not withstand the test of time and repeated handling. Likewise, many fields of knowledge are drastically altered by new discoveries and changes in culture. Updated materials can be purchased; new subject matter will be considered. Outdated materials are withdrawn.


Through the process of weeding, librarians determine which items to add, replace, repair, store, reassign to another branch or discard. Materials in reasonable physical condition that are discarded from the library are donated to the Friends of the Alameda Free Library, who determine if they will be sold at their book sale or in the Friends’ kiosk.



Weeding is the systematic removal from the collection of materials no longer useful.


Weeding is necessary to maintain the purpose and quality of the resources and to properly utilize limited space available. This process is an integral part of a collection development and maintenance. Unnecessary items remaining in a collection can weaken a library; outdated materials, discredited materials and items no longer of interest are considered for withdrawal from circulation.


Criteria for Weeding:


·  Obsolescence: subject matter is no longer timely, accurate or relevant

·  Damage or poor condition

·  Insufficient Use

·  Space limitations


Consideration of retention of materials (which otherwise would be discarded)


·  Classic significance as identified in standard bibliographies

·  Local interest

·  Reputation of author, publisher, producer, illustrator

·  Uniqueness of information for research




Replacement of materials withdrawn is not automatic. Criteria used to determine replacement:


·  Number of copies already in the library system

·  Adequacy of coverage in the subject area

·  If the item is still available and can be replaced

·  Another item or format might better serve the same purpose

·  Updated, newer or revised materials will replace a given item

·  The item has historical value





Library users occasionally object to titles that have been selected for the collection. Persons seeking the reconsideration of a book, videocassette, compact disc, or other item are asked to complete a Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials.


After the form is completed, it is given to the appropriate Departmental Supervisor who will forward it to the Library Director. The Library Director will evaluate the original reasons for the purchase of the material.


Items in question will be reviewed in light of the library’s overall objectives, its Collection Development Policy, the Library Bill of Rights, and ALA guidelines on intellectual freedom. The Library Director will then respond to the person making the objection. If an individual is not satisfied with the action taken, he/she may appeal to the Library Board by contacting the Library Director and asking for the item to be placed on an upcoming Library Board meeting agenda.


Materials subject to complaint shall not be removed from use pending final action.


Request for Reconsideration of Materials Form




The Alameda Free Library recognizes each patron’s right to confidentiality. No information regarding any patron record, including the items circulated to that person will be divulged unless the patron’s library card is presented.




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.


Intended Purpose and Managing Availability of Public Access Internet Computers

Internet access is provided as an additional research tool for library patrons. To help manage the availability of Internet computers for this purpose, chat groups, online games, word and data processing applications are not permitted. Library staff is authorized to manage Internet computer availability. Users are expected to comply when asked by Library staff to relinquish a computer.
To help maximize the availability and utility of the limited number of Internet computers, please observe the following policies, guidelines and procedures.


Procedures for Internet Computer Use
To log on to an Internet computer you will need to have your current Alameda Free Library card in hand. Internet computers are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

  • Typically, time slots will be 60 minutes, but may be adjusted by staff to 30 minutes during peak use periods.
    (e.g. Sunday 1-5; Saturday 1-5; weekdays 3-5:30)
  • No more than two people at the computer. 
  • Prints cost 15 cents per page for black & white / 85 cents per page for color;
    please pick up and pay for your print job at the copier alcove.

Procedures may be slightly different at the two branch libraries, please call if you have specific questions.


Time Limits
In the interest of serving all our customers, the Library reserves the right to set time limits on any Internet computer.
Time limits are changeable and will be posted. Procedures regarding time limits and reservations may vary from branch to branch.
Users should contact their branch of choice for details.


Time on the Computer for Children
The Internet computer in the Children's Department is for the use of children, their caregivers and teachers. Use by children will take precedence over other users. In branches, staff may reserve their Internet computers for exclusive use by children during periods of the day throughout the week. These times will be posted. It is advisable to contact the branch you wish to use for the most current information about time limits and reservations.


Responsible and Courteous Use
Computers must be used in keeping with the Alameda Free Library's "Use of the Internet" and "Behavior in the Library" policies. All users of computers in the library are expected to use this resource in a responsible and courteous manner, consistent with this policy.


Internet users are asked not to gather around Internet computers when doing so may create physical impediment or an abnormal noise level affecting other occupants of the library. In the close quarters of the library, the computer screen is less private than is usual with typical library materials. Some courtesy safeguards for Internet users and other library occupants are:

  • Filtering software on the computers in the children's areas
  • People of all ages, backgrounds and sensibilities frequent the library. Be aware that others may inadvertently observe the computer monitor. Consider this when accessing potentially offensive information or images.
  • As with other resources of the library, respect the privacy of Internet users.

Assistance with Using the Internet Computers and with Research

For many staff, using the Internet is a new experience. Other staff have more experience. In all cases, staff will be glad to assist you in getting started on the Internet computers, whatever their level of experience. Please ask staff for information about local opportunities for more in-depth instruction on Internet or personal computer use.Librarians can be of particular assistance for reference searching on the Internet. Internet access expands the resources available to the researcher through the Library. However, the Internet is not always the best or most expedient medium for the information needed. Please ask a Librarian to help when in doubt about the best route to find the information you need.


Downloading Information from the Internet; Virus Security
To prevent computer viruses, you may not use your own computer software programs or diskettes on the Library Internet computers. Downloading information from the Internet is permitted, provided this is done on your personal USB memory device at the time of download. Although the Library uses a virus checker on the computers, this will not guarantee protection. Software downloaded from the Internet to your USB device may contain a virus.


Misuse of Computers
Misuse of an Internet computer may result in loss of computer privileges, loss of library privileges and possible prosecution. Using the computers for expressly prohibited applications, for commercial purposes, or for criminal or illegal purposes constitutes misuse. Misuse includes:

  • Tampering with settings, attempting to make unauthorized entry into other networks or systems,
  • Invading the privacy of others or sending harassing or threatening messages, failure to pay for prints,
  • Mishandling, damaging or jeopardizing the use of the search station and failure to comply when asked by staff to relinquish the computer, and any violation of the Alameda Free Library Policy for Use of Internet Computers.

Adopted by the Library Board on October 14, 1998

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.



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
  • The exam must be an open book exam 
  • Any professional librarian on duty at the time the student comes in may proctor the exam 
  • We can only proctor online exams on a limited basis.
    Students may use their personal laptops

The library will:

  • Receive a printed 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 
  • Record the time the student begins and finishes the exam 
  • Certify that the exam has been monitored under these conditions

The student is responsible for:

  • Contacting the library to arrange a time to take the exam
  • Providing a return envelope and postage for returning the exam

The library is unable to:

  • Accept exams by fax
  • Return exams by fax or email 
  • 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 
  • 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


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