Meeting Room Guidelines

The Memphis Public Libraries welcomes the public use of specific rooms within the Library for events, lectures and other gatherings. The guidelines governing meeting room use are based on Article 6 of the American Library Association Library Bill of Rights, which states that libraries: “…should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use”. However, a group’s use of the Library meeting rooms does not imply endorsement of the group by the Library. 

Reserving a Meeting Room 

To use a meeting room, groups should contact the desired library location regarding their request. Requests for use of a meeting room may be made in person, by telephone or in writing. Requests should be made at least 14 days in advance. Requests made with fewer than 14 days lead time will be considered on a case by case basis. Due to the high demand for events rooms at the Library, request for reservation dates for the following year may be made in November of the current year. 

Room rental fees are not charged to non-profit organizations. Proof of nonprofit status will be required. Fees other than for room rental apply to all groups. 

For a group to reserve a Library Meeting Room, an adult (18 years or older) must complete a Meeting Room Reservation Request, available from the events Coordinator or any Branch Library. The registration form will remain on file for one year, during which time subsequent reservations may be made by phone. 

At the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library, all room set-up requirements must be specified at the time the reservation is made. Staff are not authorized to make room arrangement or equipment changes. At all other library locations, room arrangement is the responsibility of the group. For a list of Library meeting room locations, click here: Library Meeting Room Locations 

The following activities are prohibited in library meeting spaces: 

  • sales and/or product or service endorsements of any kind; 
  • formal religious services. However, religious-based study groups will be permitted providing other policy criteria is met. Monetary offerings cannot be collected in Library meeting rooms. 
  • proselytizing; 
  • charging for attendance or materials; 
  • recruitment; 
  • parties; 
  • serving alcoholic beverages 
  • political campaigns or rally events. Community groups with political affiliations are permitted to meet provided they are not engaging in campaign promotion, rallies, or press conferences. 

This is not a full, comprehensive list. Other factors such as potential noise and disturbances may be considered in meeting room use approval. The Library Behavior Guidelines apply to meeting room use. Failure to comply may result in termination of meeting room use privileges. 

  • The Library must be notified immediately of cancellations or of any changes in the name or telephone number of the group’s contact person. 
  • Group reservations may be limited per month to ensure that meeting rooms will be available to as many organizations as possible. The Library reserves the right to reassign a group to a different room or date. 

Media Participation  

Any media participation at scheduled events or meetings, unless arranged by the City of Memphis and/or Memphis Public Libraries, must be approved by the Division of Communications in advance of the event.   

Room Rental Fees 

Commercial or profit making groups are charged a room rental fee of $50 to $250 per hour depending on the size of the meeting room. The fee must be paid at the time the reservations are made. The fee will be refunded if the group cancels 14 days before the scheduled meeting or if the Library closes due to an emergency. Fees for rooms A, B, & C apply to the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library. 

Equipment Fees 

Central Library equipment may be rented through the events coordinator. Check individual branches for equipment availability. Requests for equipment rental and payment must be made at the time the reservation is made. 

  • $50.00 Overhead Projector 
  • $25.00 PA System 

Kitchen Fee 

Groups pay the catering kitchen fee of $25.00 if they or their caterer use the kitchen facilities for the final food preparation (not cooking), storage, and ice water and clean up. Groups are responsible for removing all items and cleaning the space after use. (See Food and Beverage Guidelines) Branch locations with catering kitchens are Cordova, East Shelby, and Whitehaven Library. 

Payment of Fees 

Mail or deliver payment of all fees, along with the completed Reservation Request and Commitment Form and related documents to the Library location where the event will take place at least 14 days before the event. 

A list of locations, addresses and meeting room capacity is attached. Fees may be paid by check, money order, cashier’s check or credit card, where available (MC or Visa). Make all checks and money orders payable to the Foundation for the Library. Failure to pay any assessed fees or returned checks will result in cancellation of the reservation and may impact future meeting room use. 

Signage and Decorations: 

Groups can provide directional signage for their events based on discretion by Library Management. All banner, signs and displays materials used in connection with an event or meeting at the Library must be of a professional quality. 

No handmade signs, banners, etc. may be displayed in the Library. 

Materials may not be affixed to any surface, (i.e. walls, windows, floors, furniture or fixtures) at library locations by any means (i.e. tape, nails, tacks, screws, adhesive gum, etc.) Signs on easels or tables are acceptable, but no portion of the Library grounds, sidewalks, entries, halls or access to public areas be obstructed by signage or decorations. 

Promotion of Events 

If the group publicizes the event, the announcement may state the Library’s address and the meeting room number. Groups may not list the Library telephone number on group event notices. 

Library staff are unable to answer questions about group events in their meeting rooms. Invitations, news releases or other announcements should not be issued until the specific meeting room reservation has been confirmed and applicable fees paid. 

Security in General 

No extra security staffing is needed for events held during regular open hours of the Central Library. For events held before or after regular hours, however, extra security staffing is required at the group’s expense. Security arrangements should be made at the time of the reservation (minimum 14 days’ notice) and an estimated fee payment included with other fees. 

The group representative should check in with the Events Coordinator, Branch Manager or his/her designee to gain access to the meeting rooms for events held before or after regular Library hours. They also need to check with the events Coordinator, Branch Manager or Security at the close of the event. A security guard must remain on duty until all guests, employees and agents (i.e. caterer, band, etc.) have left the building premises. 

The Library may require additional security based on the unique circumstance surrounding an event. In addition, the Central Library has certain fore evacuation requirements. A copy will be provided to the group when reservations are made. 

Food and Beverage Guidelines 

  • Simple prepared food items such as coffee, water, soft drinks and light refreshments may be brought in for group events. The group assumes full responsibility for making sure all used paper goods and food are removed or put into supplied trash receptacles before vacating the meeting rooms. 
  • Groups may not use the Library kitchen facilities without prior approval and payment of the fee. 
  • The group is responsible for supplying all equipment (including coffee pots, etc.) and cleaning up. Groups may use their own caterers. However, the Library assumes no responsibility for health and insurance certification for groups using the kitchen or providing catering services. 
  • A group representative must be present to meet the caterer. 
  • When a caterer provides food for an event on a drop -off basis (i.e. no catering staff remains on site), the group assumes full responsibility for seeing that all used paper goods and any food remains put into supplied trash receptacles before vacating the rental premises. 
  • The group or the caterer must provide all linens, tableware, serving utensils, water carafes, glasses and other beverage service items. The Library does not provide catering supplies of any kind. 
  • The group is responsible for the removal of any catering equipment from the Library at the conclusion of the event/meeting. 

Effective Date: April 1997 

Revised Date: April 2023