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Breaches of British Library Reading Room Conditions of Use

The aim of these guidelines is to outline the British Library’s policies and procedures with regard to breaches of its Conditions of Use for Reading Room users. They also aim to ensure consistency in the actions taken in response to such breaches and to define the appropriate roles and responsibilities pertaining to major points in the process. Each case will be considered on its own merits and the Library will use its discretion and judgement 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.

  1. The Library grants access to its Reading Rooms subject to acceptance by the applicant of the associated Conditions of Use. It reserves the right to suspend or withdraw a reader’s pass should they fail to comply with these regulations.
  2. The purpose of imposing a sanction is to make clear to the reader that breach of the Conditions of Use is unacceptable. The sanctions set out in Appendix 1 form the basis for establishing the appropriate action in each case.
  3. All incidents known to the Library where a pass holder contravenes these Conditions of Use 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, however, relate solely to the incident itself with no personal details being retained.
  4. All staff have a responsibility to ensure that readers abide by the Conditions of Use and, where necessary, to report incidents to the appropriate Reading Room Manager (or equivalent at Grade B or above). The manager will, wherever possible, resolve the incident 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 number will also be recorded along with details of the incident.
  5. 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 advised of the following:
    • Next steps in the process (“What happens next” leaflet – Appendix 3)
    • 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
  6. In these circumstances 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.
  7. All members of staff involved in the incident will complete an Incident Report Form which will be sent to the designated Reading Room Manager and, where the incident has placed the collection at risk, the Collection Security Co-ordinator.
  8. All Incident Reports will be reviewed by the designated Reading Room Manager who will also ensure that any further investigation that may be required is conducted as appropriate. The information thus gathered will form the basis on which a decision will be made regarding a recommendation of appropriate action.
  9. Responsibility for the decision and imposition of penalties will be taken by the Reader and Visitor Services Manager or, in their absence, a manager at an equivalent grade (SB4) or above. Any sanction imposed shall be consistent with the guidelines set out in Appendix 1.
  10. Any decision to permanently suspend a reader’s pass 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 Visitor Services Manager or equivalent). This would normally be by way of a hearing 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.
  11. All incidents resulting in the creation of a personal record will be held on file in accordance with the requirements of the Data Protection Act. All decisions will be notified in writing.
  12. All decisions resulting in the suspension of a reader’s pass, 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 evidence
    • Inaccuracy of evidence
    • Unfair or discriminatory treatment
    • Unreasonable severity of sanction
    • Failure to follow proper procedure
  13. 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.
  14. 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 Appendix2.