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Holiday Displays Policy

PASCO COUNTY LIBRARY SYSTEM POLICY MANUAL
SECTION: PUBLIC SERVICES
POLICY TITLE: HOLIDAY DISPLAYS
EFFECTIVE DATE: February 2005
REVISED: November 2005

Philosophy:

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This amendment applies to all governmental entities, not merely the federal government or Congress, and has been interpreted to mean, in its most basic form, that government should neither sponsor nor endorse any religious activity, nor discriminate against religion or religious expression. 

Holiday displays in or on public property implicate both of these First Amendment principles. In order to respect both principles, library personnel observe the following County and Library guidelines concerning displays in libraries and on library property during the holiday season.

Duration of Displays:

Holiday displays should be of limited duration. The appropriate period will be identified and made available here.

Specific Holiday Display Policies:

In public areas inside the library (except meeting rooms, see section below) and in staff break rooms or staff common areas: 

  • Displays in these areas are owned and erected by Libraries. The overall nature of the display must celebrate the secular facets of the season and must not be seen to endorse the religious aspects of the holiday. Because of the difficulty involved in making a judgment about the “overall nature” of such displays, the following policies will apply:  

  • The displays will be limited to holiday items that are purely secular in nature.

    For example, in the winter season, garlands, wreaths, snowflakes, Santa Claus, gingerbread houses, reindeer, snowmen, lights, etc. may be used. A traditional evergreen-type tree may be displayed, but the ornaments may not be of a religious nature. Angels, nativity scenes, and menorahs may not be used.

    In the spring season, bunnies, chicks, baskets and eggs may be used. Symbols of a religious significance, such as a cross or crucifix, may not be used.

    Secular decorations may be displayed for holidays such as Halloween, 4th of July, St. Patrick’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Valentine.

  • Signs or publications created to spotlight a book display or library event(s) may not contain religious symbols.

  • Members of the public will not be permitted to add to the displays or to erect displays inside the buildings except as described in this policy.

  • At times members of the public may offer to donate decorative holiday items for use by the Library. All such donations are to be made to the Friends of the Library. Items of a religious nature will not be accepted. All donated items become the property of the Friends and will be displayed or discarded at their discretion.

  • A minimal amount of County time and resources should be used in erecting a holiday or seasonal display. No County funds may be spent for decorations.

    In private offices, cubicles, private lockers assigned to individual employees or other similar spaces:

  • These are spaces that are generally unique to one individual employee although other employees and members of the public may enter these spaces to transact business. Staff may erect holiday displays in these areas of any nature for their personal enjoyment.

  • Such displays may not be illegal, defamatory, obscene, distracting to other employees in the performance of their work, or pose a health or safety hazard.

  • County Administration prefers that displays in these areas be erected during the lunch hour rather than during regular business hours.

    In public meeting rooms: 

  • These are spaces that can be utilized by the public and fall under the Libraries’ Meeting Room Policy. Such spaces are not to be decorated for holidays by Libraries Staff except in a case where the space is to be utilized for a library program or activity. Such decorations are to be removed immediately following the program or activity. 

  • Groups reserving the rooms may use their own holiday decorations for their purposes within the guidelines of the Meeting Room Policy. In addition, they may not attach decorations to any part of the room or to Libraries owned furniture and equipment that marks or damages that portion of the room, furniture, or equipment. Decorations must not create a health or safety hazard. All decorations must be removed immediately after the meeting. Any decorations left in the rooms will be discarded.

    In public display cases:

  • The policy for holiday displays in public display cases does not vary from the standard policy, which can be found here.

    On Library property outside the Library building: 

  • Libraries has identified one or more areas at each public location that may be utilized by private individuals or groups to erect holiday displays of any nature during a limited time coinciding with the holiday season.

  • Buildings that are under construction or renovation may not be utilized for displays. Buildings where the surrounding property is extremely limited may not easily lend themselves to displays. 

  • Persons wishing to erect a display must notify Libraries Administration prior to erecting the display. Libraries Administration will notify the appropriate County Department so that displays can be inspected for safety. Displays that are erected without proper notification will be removed and discarded. 

  • Space for displays will be allocated on a “first come, first served” basis. The amount of space available for each display may be limited to allow equitable access. The total amount of space available for public displays may be limited.

  • Displays erected in areas other than those designated for that purpose, will be removed and discarded.

  • Libraries will erect a sign with the following information: “Display created, erected, and sponsored by private citizens. Not endorsed or sponsored by Pasco County” in the area utilized for public displays.

  • Displays may not be illegal, defamatory, or obscene. Determination of this status will be referred to appropriate legal authorities. 

  • Displays may not present a health or safety issue. They must be securely anchored to prevent both property damage and personal injury.

  • Displays that present a safety hazard to the public or which are not removed in a timely fashion after the expiration of the display period, will be removed at the expense of the person erecting the display.

  • Displays may not be erected on sidewalks, in parking lots or on public right-of- way. They may not block or hamper ingress or egress from any portion of the building or grounds. Displays may not block visibility for vehicles entering, leaving, or parked in the library parking areas.

  • Displays may not be erected in areas that would interfere with the maintenance of buildings or grounds including irrigations systems or where landscaping would be damaged or destroyed by the display.

  • Any damage occurring as a result of erecting a display will be repaired at the expense of the person erecting the display. 

  • Libraries will not provide electrical, or other utility access for displays erected by members of the public.

  • No sound amplifiers may be used as part of any display.

  • Littering is prohibited on Library property. 

  • Libraries assumes no responsibility for the preservation, security, or possible damage or theft of any item displayed.

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