Bulletin Board and Information Distribution Areas Policy

In many of its facilities, The Seattle Public Library maintains one or more bulletin boards for the posting of materials, as well as designated areas (such as literature racks and spaces on countertops and tables) for the passive distribution of printed information. This policy provides a guide for the use and regulation of bulletin boards and information distribution areas.

Policy Statement
Some bulletin boards and distribution areas, including some digital formats, are reserved for the exclusive use of the Library.

Bulletin Boards and Distribution Areas - Reserved for Use by the Library
In areas reserved for the Library's exclusive use, the Library posts and distributes materials:

  • Related to Library services, programs, and events.
  • Provided by the Friends of The Seattle Public Library and The Seattle Public Library Foundation.
  • Provided by other governmental entities such as the city of Seattle, King County, state and federal governments.

Other Bulletin Boards and Distribution Areas
A limited number of bulletin boards and distribution areas are available within the Library system for the posting and passive distribution of materials provided by nonprofit organizations. In each facility, the branch or department manager (or designee) may designate specific areas as available for these purposes. The branch or department manager (or designee) must authorize all posting and distribution before it occurs. Authorization will be based upon the provisions of this policy and will not be based upon the viewpoint, beliefs, or affiliations of the nonprofit group or the viewpoints expressed in the materials. Posting or distribution of any such materials in the Library does not indicate the Library's endorsement of the ideas, issues, or events promoted by those materials.

The amount of bulletin board and distribution area space is limited. In order to provide Library visitors with the opportunity to review materials from nonprofit organizations that they might not otherwise have the opportunity to review, the following rules apply:

Bulletin Boards - Event Announcements
Bulletin board space is provided for announcements of dated Seattle events whose principal sponsors are nonprofit organizations. Individual libraries may give priority to announcements for events scheduled to take place in a geographic area near the library.

Distribution Areas
Nonprofit organizations may provide, for passive distribution only, dated materials related to their nonprofit purpose. These materials may only be displayed in the areas designated for this purpose. Passive distribution means leaving the materials with Library staff for Library visitors, if they so choose, to review and/or take with them. Passive distribution does not include verbally or visually (by means of signs, placards, etc.) encouraging Library visitors to review or take any materials with them.

General Prohibitions
The following items may not be posted on bulletin boards or left in material distribution areas:

  • Materials that support or oppose any current or pending ballot measure or political candidate. The Library is not intended to be a forum for the support or opposition of political candidates or ballot measures.
  • Official election information, such as the Washington State and Seattle Voters' pamphlets, is available in the Library.
  • Because it is inconsistent with passive distribution, materials asking Library visitors to sign a petition or letter are not permitted.

Terms for Use
All materials posted or distributed must comply with this policy and any other applicable Library policy, procedure or guideline. No other materials may be posted or distributed.

To ensure equitable access to limited display space available at each facility, a branch or department manager, or his/her designee, may establish criteria for that facility regarding posting and distribution of materials, including:

  • The maximum size of material to be posted or distributed.
  • The maximum length of time that materials may remain posted or displayed.
  • The maximum amount of time before or after an event a posting may occur.
  • The frequency with which material may be posted or displayed by the same nonprofit organization.
  • Consistent methods for allocating space, should the amount of material exceed the space available for posting or distribution.

All posting and placement of materials in distribution areas shall be done by Library staff. Individuals requesting posting or distribution shall not themselves post or leave materials in distribution areas.

Materials left for posting or distribution without authorization from the Library will be discarded.

The Library assumes no responsibility for the preservation or protection of materials posted or distributed. Materials will not be returned.

The City Librarian, or his/her designee, is responsible for the administration of this policy on a systemwide basis. Branch managers are responsible for the administration of this policy within their facilities.

This policy applies to all Library facilities, including the Central Library and all Library branches.

Related Laws, Policies and Procedures
Board Policy, Community Library Facilities.

Date Adopted: July 22, 2003
Wording Clarification: Oct. 28, 2015
Supersedes Policy: Bulletin Boards and Information Distribution Areas adopted Jan. 4, 1923 and revised Aug. 18, 1980