Program Development

This policy concerns library-sponsored and co-sponsored programs. The term “Program” includes both in-person and virtual programs, in-branch and offsite programs, as well as library exhibits and passive in-branch activities. For information concerning events held in library meeting rooms, but not sponsored by Mid-Columbia Libraries (MCL), see MCL’s Meeting Room policy (refer to Section 300 - Meeting Rooms Policy).

Programs at Mid-Columbia Libraries support our strategic initiatives, collections of materials, services, resources, and facilities. Additionally, MCL programming adheres to the principles established in the American Library Association Bill of Rights and Code of Ethics, as well as the Urban Library Council Statement on Race and Social Equity. Programs serve the popular, recreational, informational and social needs of the general public, and reflect equitable outreach and engagement to a diverse community while promoting a culture of inclusion.

All library programs will be open to the public and offered free of charge, excepting ticketed events sponsored by Friends of Mid-Columbia Libraries and other affiliated 501(c)3 Friends groups.

MCL upholds the right of the individual to access programming, with the understanding that the presenter and their content may be deemed controversial, unorthodox, or unacceptable to some. The views and opinions of program presenters and their content do not constitute endorsement by MCL, its Board, or its employees.

MCL reserves the right to reschedule or cancel programs without notice. Rescheduling is at the discretion of MCL.

1.    Program Selection

      MCL staff may use, but are not limited to, the following criteria in program planning:

  • Strategic Plan alignment and relation to library mission, vision, values and service goals
  • Budget and staffing considerations
  • Presenter background/qualifications/reputation
  • Community needs and interest
  • Service area demographics
  • Diversity of viewpoint
  • Inclusivity
  • Connection to other community programs, exhibits or events
  • Availability of program space
  • Availability elsewhere

Programs will be developed with consideration for the principles of accessibility, inclusion, and equity. MCL actively seeks to include a variety of programming options representing diversity of genres, formats, ideas, and expressions with a multitude of viewpoints and cultural perspectives that reflect the diversity in our communities. Historically excluded, marginalized, and underrepresented people and their experiences, not solely the predominant majority, should be represented in library programs. This includes offering programs for those who communicate and read in languages other than English, access for people with disabilities, and times and locations that maximize convenience and encourage attendance for the target audience.

2.    Program Promotions

The scope, design, and delivery of programming promotions is determined by MCL’s Communications Department, and may include physical marketing collateral (e.g. customized or template-based posters, handouts), press releases, email messaging, social media posts, and multimedia advertising.

3.    Attendance and Access

Attendees of all programs, whether in-person, virtual, in a branch or off-site, are held to MCL’s Customer Conduct Policy (Refer to Section 100 - System Wide – Customer Conduct).

Every attempt will be made to accommodate all who wish to attend a program. However, when safety or the success of a program requires it, attendance may be limited. When limits must be established, attendance will be determined on a first-come, first-served basis, either with advanced registration or at the door. In some cases, the nature and success of a program may require that attendance is limited based on age, especially programs intended for children and teens that are geared to their interests and developmental needs.

In no case will attendance at a program be restricted because the presenter and/or the content of the program may be deemed controversial. Parents have the primary responsibility to guide and direct their own minor children’s attendance at library programs. MCL does not operate “in loco parentis” (i.e., in place of a parent).

MCL reserves the right to use video or photographs taken of program participants for internal use, publication, use in library promotions, and for evaluation purposes. Program attendees can verbally opt-out of being photographed or recorded at any time.

While protesting a library program is permitted, disorderly conduct is not permitted. In accordance with RCW 9A.84.030, a person is guilty of disorderly conduct if the person:

(a) Uses abusive language and thereby intentionally creates a risk of assault;

(b) Intentionally disrupts any lawful assembly or meeting of persons without lawful authority;

(c) Intentionally obstructs vehicular or pedestrian traffic without lawful authority.

As needed, MCL’s Programming department and Administration will identify safety concerns and work with local police departments if it is determined that a police presence may be warranted at a program.

4.    Commercial Activities

The purpose of programs shall not be primarily commercial or for the solicitation of business. Recognizing program attendees may wish to purchase items like books written by speakers or recordings made by performers, MCL may permit the sale of such items in conjunction with a library-sponsored program. All plans to sell such items must be arranged in advance and approved by the MCL staff responsible for the program. Program presenters are responsible for the handling of all sales, and/or in conjunction with the Friends of Mid-Columbia Libraries and other affiliated 501(c)3 Friends groups. The presenter may leave business cards for participants to pick up after the program should anyone be interested in purchasing items or services.

5.    Request for Reconsideration of Programs

Reconsideration of a program may be submitted via the Request for Reconsideration of a Library Program form, which is available at any library location.

Concerns, questions, or complaints about library programs are handled according to the same written policy and procedures that govern reconsiderations of other library resources. These policies apply equally to all people, including, but not limited to, library users, staff, and members of the governing body.

Programs will not be canceled due to: the ideas or topics of the program being deemed controversial, unorthodox, or unacceptable to some; the origin, background, or views of the presenter; or because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.


(Adopted 07/19/2022)

See also:  Section 100 System-Wide, No. 16 Customer Conduct Policy