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Library rules and regulations

Our library regulations and byelaws set out what you can do in libraries. If you have any comments, complaints or suggestions about our services, please contact us.

Library regulations

Library bye-laws

Plans for library services

Council Plan

East Sussex Libraries: The Way Forward 2022/23 to 2027/28

  1. In these Bye-laws, unless the context otherwise requires:

    a) "the Act" means the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964;
    b) "charge" means any charge imposed in accordance with the Regulations;
    c) "child" means a person under the age of 8 years;
    d) "emergency situation" includes situations where a library or part of a library is required to be evacuated for security reasons or because of threat from fire or other hazard and practices and false alarms in relation thereto;
    e) "last known address" means the last address held on the library authority’s records;
    f) "the library authority" means the EAST SUSSEX COUNTY COUNCIL
    g) "library" means:

       i) any premises which are occupied by a library authority and are premises where library facilities are made available by the authority, in the course of their provision of a public library service, to members of the public;
       ii) any vehicle which is used by the library authority for the purpose of providing a public library service to members of the public and is a vehicle in which facilities are made available;

    and includes any part of such premises or vehicle;
    h) "the library officer" means any officer employed by the library authority in connection with its functions under the Act;
    i) "library property" includes property owned by or provided for the use of the library authority whether or not it is made available by the library authority for use by the public and property obtained by the library authority for the loan to or use of the public;
    j) "the regulations" means the Library Charges (England and Wales) Regulations 1991 S.I. 1991/2712;
    k) words importing the masculine gender include the feminine, words in the singular include the plural and words in the plural include the singular;
    l) expressions used, unless the contrary intention appears, have the meaning which they bear in the Act and Regulations:
  2. An act performed in connection with the proper execution of his duty by a library officer shall not be a contravention of these bye-laws.
  3. No person shall give a false name or address for the purpose of entering the library or for the purpose of using any library facility.
  4. No person who in the reasonable opinion of a library officer is offensively unclean in person or clothing or both shall remain in the library after having been asked by a library officer to leave the library.
  5. Except with the consent of a library officer, no person shall:
    a) cause or allow any dog (other than a working dog accompanying a disabled person) or other animal belonging to him or under his control to enter or remain in the library;
    b) bring into any part of the library a wheeled vehicle or conveyance other than a wheelchair, pram or pushchair;
    c) enter or remain in any part of the library which a reasonable person would or should know is prohibited to the public; or
    d) remain in the library after the time fixed for its closing.
  6. No person shall remain in the library after an emergency situation has been made known to him.
  7. No person shall, unless specifically permitted by a library officer, take or attempt to take any library property from the library or past a check out or security point.
  8. No person shall, without lawful excuse, destroy or damage any library property intending to destroy or damage such property or being reckless as to whether such property should be destroyed or damaged.
  9. No person shall behave in a disorderly manner in the library, use violent, abusive or obscene language therein, or intentionally or recklessly cause or do anything likely to cause injury to any other person or property.
  10. No person shall sleep in the library after having been requested not to do so by a library officer.
  11. No person shall remain in a library without making proper use of the library’s facilities after having been requested, by a library officer, to make such proper use of the facilities.
  12. No person shall engage in audible conversation in any part of the library set apart as a reference department, study area, or for reading after having been requested not to do so by a library officer.
  13. No person shall intentionally or recklessly obstruct any library officer in the execution of his duty or intentionally or recklessly disturb, obstruct, interrupt, abuse or annoy any other person properly using the library.
  14. No person shall, without the consent of a library officer, intentionally display, distribute, or leave any bill, placard, notice or other document in the library.
  15. No person shall, without the consent of a library officer, offer anything for sale in the library or canvas or seek signatures for petitions.
  16. No person having charge of a child shall without the consent of a library officer leave him unsupervised in the library.
  17. No person shall smoke, light a match or use a cigarette lighter in the library other than in an area, if any, designated as an area where smoking is permitted.
  18. No person in any part of the library shall inhale any toxic substance for the purpose of causing intoxication or take any controlled drug as defined by Schedule 2 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 other than drugs dispensed for and pursuant to prescription issued for him by a doctor under and in accordance with the aforesaid Act.
  19. No person shall, except with the consent of a library officer, partake of refreshment in the library.
  20. No person shall, except with the consent of a library officer, cause or allow any mobile telephone, portable computer, or other electrical equipment, or apparatus for the reception of sound broadcasting or the reproduction of sound, to be operated in any part of the library to which the public has access.
  21. No person who:
    a) borrows library property which is returned late or if returned would be returned late, or
    b) fails to pay any charge

    shall, unless with the specific consent of a library officer, borrow any other library property.
  22. a) Any person who has borrowed library property which if returned would be returned late and who has been served with a notice by the library authority demanding return of the library property shall return the library property within 14 days from the date the notice was served.

    b) For the purposes of this bye-law, a notice may be served upon any person by delivering it to him, or by leaving it at his last known address, or by sending it by post addressed to him at that address.
  23. Except as regards bye-laws 8 and 18, in respect of which a prosecution may be brought under the Criminal Damage Act 1971 or the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 respectively, any person who contravenes any of the aforegoing byelaws shall be liable to prosecution for contravention of the byelaws by the library authority and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 2 on the standard scale in respect of each offence.
  24. A library officer may exclude any person who contravenes any of the aforegoing byelaws from any library maintained by the library authority under the Act.
  25. On the coming into operation of these byelaws, the byelaws relating to libraries which were confirmed by the Secretary of State for Education and Science on 17th day of April, 1975, shall be revoked.

THE COMMON SEAL of EAST SUSSEX COUNTY COUNCIL was affixed hereto in the presence of:

Richard Partridge

(Authorised Signatory) on

18th April 1997

The foregoing byelaws are confirmed on behalf of the Secretary of State for National Heritage by the Head of Libraries Division, Department of National Heritage and shall come into force on:

20th May 1997

Robert Eichart

Head of Libraries Division, Department of National Heritage

Users of the library and library facilities are reminded that the provisions of the general law apply at all times. In particular as regards the activities referred to in byelaws 8 and 18 the library authority draws attention to the existence of the Criminal Damage Act 1971 and the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

People who intend to make copies of works are advised that they may only do so in accordance with provisions of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 and are liable to prosecution under that Act if they fail to observe its provisions.


1.     General

1.1. In addition to these regulations, there are a number of Byelaws in force relating to the use of the library. Users of the library should be familiar with these Byelaws, a copy of which is on display. 

1.2. The regulations are concerned with the borrowing of books and other materials from the library, referred to throughout as “library property” ; see section 5 below for regulations covering materials for which a borrowing fee is charged. 

1.3. Your membership may be suspended or cancelled if you fail to comply with these regulations. 

2.     Membership

2.1. Anyone can borrow books from the library by joining as a registered member, this service is free. A charge or fee is imposed for borrowing other materials, and this is explained more fully in section 5, but the same general principles of membership and borrowing cover all library property. 

2.2. Anyone who is sixteen years of age or over can join the library by providing proof of identity and address. 

2.3. Anyone under sixteen years of age can join the library but will need a sponsor. This sponsor will usually be a parent but may be any registered adult member of the library. 

2.4. Any visitor to the area can be given temporary membership by providing a valid library ticket issued by another library authority or reliable proof of their identity and address. 

3.     Borrowers’ tickets

3.1. When you become a member you will be given a ticket which will enable you to borrow library property. There will be a limit to the number of items that you can borrow at any one time. You will be informed of this limit when you join. 

3.2. You should notify the library of any change of name and/or address. 

3.3. If you lose your ticket the loss should be reported to the library as soon as possible. 

3.4. You will be responsible for items borrowed on your ticket until the loss has been reported. 

3.5. A charge may be made for replacing a lost ticket. 

4.     Borrowing books and other library property

4.1. You should bring your ticket with you when you want to borrow items from the library. If you do forget your ticket, you may be able to borrow if you can prove your identity and address again, but you may be refused permission to borrow on that occasion if you cannot do so. 

4.2. Books and other materials can normally be borrowed for three weeks at a time. Some items can only be borrowed for one week, you will be advised of the loan period at the time of borrowing if it varies from three weeks. You can extend the loan of any item for a further period except for DVDs and children’s 7-day loan national curriculum books, unless it is wanted by another customer. Renewals can be made online, by telephone, by post or by a personal call; we require every fourth renewal to be made in person, presenting the item to be renewed. Please note that where a fee is charged to borrow an item, this fee will also be charged for a renewed loan.

4.3. If you keep any item for longer then the normal borrowing period, or after the end of an extension period following renewing the loan, then an overdue charge will be made. You will be advised by letter after items become overdue, failure to return items when so notified may result in an agency being instructed to recover both library property and associated charges. 

4.4. These charges do not apply to children’s books borrowed on children’s tickets. Children will be notified when books have been kept after the normal borrowing period and will be charged the cost of this notification. Normal overdue charges will apply when children’s items are borrowed on an adult ticket, and where children borrow items for which a fee is charged. 

4.5. If you discover that a book or other item of library property you have borrowed is damaged, you should report this to the library, otherwise you may be held responsible for that damage. You may be charged for the replacement of any item damaged or lost while on loan to you. 

4.6. Charges may be reduced or waived in extenuating circumstances but failure to pay any charges may be treated as a debt recoverable at law and may be pursued accordingly. 

4.7. A charge will be made for reading group and inter-library loan reservations, with the fee payable in advance.

4.8. Details of all current charges are displayed in libraries.

4.9. Reference books are not normally available for loan. 

5.     Borrowing material for which a charge is made

5.1. Except where stated below, the regulations in sections 1 to 4 above apply. 

5.2. There are several categories of material available to be borrowed for which a charge is made, including audiobooks, music CDs, DVDs, playsets and sets of music scores. 

5.3. Where items requiring mechanical equipment for them to be played or used are borrowed, it is the responsibility of the borrower to maintain their playback equipment in good condition in order not to damage the borrowed material. The County Council accepts no liability for any damage caused to such playback equipment. 

5.4. The rate of charges currently in force is displayed in all lending libraries. 

5.5. Exemptions and concessions from charges apply in some circumstances; please ask a member of staff for details.

5.6. Recordings in any format may only be borrowed on the understanding that the borrower will comply with the law on copyright and public performance. 

5.7. Where an item, for which a borrowing fee is charged, is renewed, the renewal will require the payment of a further borrowing fee. 

5.8. As with books, you will be responsible for any items or recordings that are lost or damaged while on loan to you. If you lose or damage an item so that, in the opinion of a library officer, it is no longer usable, you will be charged the replacement cost. If the lost or damaged item is part of a set and cannot be replaced singly, you may be charged the cost of replacing the complete set. 

Most of our libraries have a photocopier. Some libraries have computers with scanners so you can make electronic copies. These pages will guide you through what and how much you can copy.

There are charges for copying and printing. See our printing charges page for details of costs.

There are limits on what you can copy under copyright law. This includes photocopying and scanning items, and downloading and printing documents from the Internet.

Copying may only be carried out if it is:

  • fair dealing (not substantial)
  • for private study or research for a non-commercial purpose
  • a single copy.

Where you quote from work you have copied, or use copies of illustrations, you should acknowledge the author or source.

Check copyright notices on publications and websites to see if explicit permission has been given to make more copies than listed below. See the national guidance on copyright.

  • Books
    1 complete chapter to a maximum of 5% of the work.
  • Short books
    Up to 10% or 20 pages, whichever is lesser.
  • Periodicals
    1 article from an issue or if a very small item, one A4 or the contents page.
  • Poems
    Only when in a collection or anthology to a maximum of 10 pages.
  • Music
    Short extracts for study only, not for performance.
  • Illustrations
    Only if they illustrate or form part of an article or extract.
  • Photographs
    Only for private or domestic use.
  • Slides
    Not permitted.
  • Yellow Pages
    1 page or one classified section.
  • Electoral registers
    Full register after December 2001 must not be photocopied.
    Full register up to and including February 2001 has no restrictions.
    Edited register must not be photocopied but handwritten notes can be made.
  • Maps
    During copyright period up to 4 copies of a single A4 sized extract for non-commercial research or private study. Ordnance Survey maps are in copyright for 50 years after the year of publication, and Goad plans (shopping centre maps) are in copyright for 70 years after the year of publication.
  • Government publications
    The following publications can be copied without restriction unless for personal or commercial gain – Hansard, bills, acts, statutory instruments, statutory rules and orders, command papers, reports of Select Committees and press releases.