The aim of these guidelines is to outline the British Library’s policies and procedures with regard to breaches of its Reading Room Conditions of Use. They also aim to ensure consistency in the actions taken in response to such breaches and to define the appropriate roles and responsibilities in the process. Each case will be considered on its own merits and the Library will use its discretion and judgment in implementing the policies and procedures set out in this document. The Library reserves the right to depart from these policies and procedures where it considers this to be appropriate.
- The Library grants access to its Reading Rooms subject to acceptance by the applicant of the associated Reading Room Conditions of Use ("Conditions"). It reserves the right to suspend or withdraw access should a reader breach or persistently fail to comply with the Conditions.
- The purpose of imposing a sanction is to make clear to the Reader that breach of the Conditions is unacceptable. The offences set out in Appendix 1 form the basis for establishing the appropriate sanction in each case.
- All incidents known to the Library where a Reader contravenes the Conditions will be acted upon. In most circumstances, where the infringement is considered to be minor, Reading Room staff will resolve the issue on an informal basis. All such incidents will be recorded to allow management analysis of trends and patterns of behaviour. This record will relate solely to the incident itself and will not contain any personal details which could identify the Reader.
- All staff have a responsibility to ensure that Readers abide by the Conditions and, where necessary, to report incidents to the appropriate Reading Room Manager (or manager at an equivalent grade or above). The manager will make every reasonable effort to resolve the matter directly with the Reader, who will be given the opportunity to state their case. All such incidents will be recorded as above. However, where a verbal warning is deemed to be appropriate the Reader’s name and Reader Pass will be recorded along with details of the incident.
Further investigation and escalation of incidents
- Where the Reading Room Manager considers the incident to be sufficiently serious to warrant further investigation and possible suspension, the Reader’s pass will be retained and they will be required to leave the Reading Room. The reader will be informed of the following:
- Next steps in the process ( “What happens next” leaflet
- Likely timescales to undertake investigation (normally 10 working days)
- How to appeal against the removal of pass
- How to provide additional relevant information for consideration as part of the investigation
- How notification of the outcome will be received.
- If the incident is under investigation under item 5 above, the Reader will be unable to return to the Reading Rooms pending completion of the investigation. Once the investigation is complete, the Reader will be advised of the outcome in writing.
- Staff involved in the incident will complete an Incident Report Form which will be sent to the designated Reading Room Manager and, if the incident involves risk to collection items, the Collection Security Co-ordinator.
- All Incident Reports will be reviewed by the designated Reading Room Manager who will evaluate whether any further investigation is required. The information thus gathered will form the basis on which a decision will be made regarding a recommendation of appropriate action.
- Responsibility for the decision and imposition of penalties will be taken by the Reader and Reference Services Manager or, in their absence, a manager at an equivalent grade or above. Any sanction imposed shall be consistent with the guidelines set out in Appendix 1.
- Any decision to permanently suspend a Reader’s access to the reading rooms will only be taken following an investigation during which the reader will be given the opportunity to state their case directly to the investigating manager (Reader and Reference Services Manager or equivalent). This would normally be by way of a meeting to discuss the available evidence. The final decision will also be subject to approval by the Associate Director (London), or in their absence another member of the Executive Team.
- All personal information, including witness statements will be held and used in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 and used only for the purpose of the investigation. Access will be limited to Library staff directly involved in investigating the incident or any subsequent appeals or complaints. For more information see the Library’s Privacy Statement.
- All decisions will be provided in writing.
- All decisions resulting in the suspension of a Reader’s access to the reading rooms, either temporary or permanent, will be subject to appeal. Appeals should be made in writing within 1 month of notification of the decision and will be considered on any of the following grounds:
- Misinterpretation, misrepresentation or mismanagement of information
- Inaccuracy of information
- Unfair or discriminatory treatment
- Unreasonable severity of sanction
- Failure to follow proper procedure.
- Details of to whom an appeal should be made will be provided as part the initial notification letter but in most instances appeals will be considered by the Associate Director (London). Exceptions to this will be where the Associate Director (London) has approved the original decision (e.g. permanent suspensions), where a conflict of interest may exist or where the Associate Director (London) is not available. In these circumstances the appeal will be heard by another member of the Executive Team.
- Final appeal can be made in writing to the Chief Executive who will have final authority in the event of continued dispute.
All appeals should, wherever practicable, be considered within 10 working days of receipt.
A summary of the key process steps can be seen in Appendix 2.
The British Library Board