Regulations for Reserving and Using Public Gathering Places

Hennepin County Library Administrative Policy


The purpose of this policy is to establish specific regulations that ensure the fair and consistent application of the Hennepin County Library Board Reserving and Using Public Gathering Places Policy.

Definitions and Scope

The public gathering places covered under this policy are defined below:

Meeting Rooms: Meeting rooms can be configured in different ways to meet the needs of different types of groups. Best suited for programs and events. Maximum room capacity is 21 or more. 

Conference Rooms: Conference rooms have less flexibility than meeting rooms. Room configuration may be fixed. Maximum room capacity is 10-20.

Study Rooms: Study rooms have fixed room configuration and are designed for small group conversations and study. Maximum room capacity is 4-10.

Piano Room: Created for the musical enjoyment of patrons who wish to play the piano. Available at Minneapolis Central Library.

Rental Venues: Five specific spaces at Minneapolis Central Library that may be reserved for a fee. These spaces offer more services and available hours than any of the other reservable places. Events management and exclusive catering services are offered by a contract vendor.

Intended Use

Public gathering places are intended to be commercial free environments where groups may come together to learn and exchange information and ideas.

Public gathering places are made available to the public regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use. Permission to use a public gathering place does not constitute an endorsement by the library of the program or point of view expressed.

Commercial activities are prohibited. There will be no collection of admission fees or tuition, sales of products or services or other direct fund raising activities. Exceptions may be made for library-sponsored groups, programs, or events.

The person reserving the space determines the intended audience for the gathering. No gambling, games of chance, bingo, casinos or wagering of any kind may be a part of any program, meeting, or event.

With the exception of the rental venues, gathering places cannot be used for purely social purposes which include but are not limited to parties or events (e.g. weddings).

The meeting rooms are intended for larger groups, and therefore minimum attendance requirements may be imposed. They are not intended for private use, study, tutoring, or one-on-one discussions. Individuals and small groups under the minimum required may use a meeting room if it is not reserved for that day and they agree to this use policy.

Use Priorities

Priorities for reserving and using gathering places are given in the following order:

  1. Library sponsored and co-sponsored programs and activities.
  2. Use by Hennepin County departments and units.
  3. Programs and activities conducted by library partners.
  4. All other groups (general public); availability is on a first come first-served basis.

Service Amenities

Available services vary for each location. The room reservation site details the specific hours, and amenities that are offered for each gathering place.

Hours: Reservations are limited to library operating hours for most locations. After-hours reservations are available at Minneapolis Central Library’s five rental venues.

Furnishings: The library will provide the necessary tables and chairs. Any additional furnishings (e.g. podium, kitchenette etc.) vary by location.

Room set-up and take-down service: Patrons are responsible for meeting room set-up and take-down at most locations.

A room set-up and take down service is available for a fee at Brookdale, Ridgedale and Southdale. Patrons wishing this service (including County department staff) choose from a list of established meeting room configurations. Customized room set-ups are not available. Fees must be received before reservation is confirmed. If patrons do not choose this service, they are responsible for room set-up and take-down.

Basic room set-up and take down services using established meeting room configurations are included in the rental fee at Minneapolis Central Library’s five rental venues.

Wireless (Wi-Fi) Internet: Wireless Internet is available in all Hennepin County Library locations.

Audio-Visual Equipment: AV equipment is unavailable at most library locations.

AV equipment is available for a fee at Brookdale, Minneapolis Central, Ridgedale and Southdale libraries. Requests for AV equipment must be submitted at least 14 days in advance of scheduled date. See the room reservation site for item availability and associated fees.

Groups may bring their own equipment, but staff are not available to provide AV equipment support.

Catering and events management: Available only at Minneapolis Central Library’s rental venues where a private events management and catering firm, contracted by Hennepin County Library, provides events management and exclusive catering services.

Communicating scheduled meetings: Hennepin County Library will communicate scheduled meetings (group name, time, date, and place of meeting) in the room reservation calendar and may also post information at the library where the meeting is being held.

Reserving a Space

Requests: Patrons must complete the online room reservation application form and agree to the reservation and use regulations. Applicants must be 18 years of age or older to reserve the meeting rooms or rental venues.

If applicant does not have an email address, staff may mediate the process and submit the application on behalf of the patron. Patron will provide contact information and staff will note in the application that patron agrees to the reservation and use regulations.

Advance reservation requests may be submitted according to the following timetable:

  • No more than 3 months in advance for members of the general public.
  • No more than 4 months in advance for Hennepin County departments and library partners. (Staff mediation will be required for requests made 3-4 months in advance.)
  • No more than 2 years in advance for library sponsored and co-sponsored programs and activities.

Reservation requests for the rental venues at Minneapolis Central are handled by the contract vendor; requests may be placed up to one (1) year prior to the event.

Confirmations: A confirmation of the reservation request will be e-mailed to the applicant within four (4) business days of submission or if applicable, four (4) business days after receipt of associated fees.

A reservation request may be denied if:

  • Application does not meet intended purpose requirements.
  • Request is for recurring meetings. To ensure accessibility to a wide variety of groups, the library may limit the frequency of meetings for any group to no more than once per month.
  • Patron has previously failed to use library gathering places in accordance with this policy.

Reservation confirmations for the rental venues at Minneapolis Central are handled by the contract vendor.

Cancellations: Patrons should notify the library as soon as possible if it is necessary to cancel a reservation. Repeated cancellations or failure to notify the library of a cancelled meeting may result in forfeiture of future reservation privileges.

Payment for any room set-up service fees or AV use fees must be received seven (7) days prior to the reserved date If fees are not received by that time, the patron may still use the room, but the request for room set-up and/or AV equipment will be cancelled.

Room set-up and take down service fees and AV equipment fees will not be refunded to patron if reservation is cancelled less than 48 hours prior to the scheduled date.

Cancellations of rental venue reservations are managed by the contract vendor.

The library reserves the right to revoke patron permission to use a space if it is needed for library or County use. Alternate locations will be sought as needed.

Patron Responsibilities

Patrons using the gathering places will:

  • Comply with all federal, state, and local laws.
  • Follow Hennepin County and library policies including the Patron Conduct Policy.
  • Obey rulings of local municipality as to the capacity of rooms and other safety regulations.
  • Not interfere with the operation of the library and hinder its patrons.

All groups shall indemnify, defend and hold harmless Hennepin County, its officers, agents, and employees from and against any and all claims, suits, actions of any kind, arising and resulting and accruing from an negligent act, omission or error of the group resulting in or relating to personal injuries or property damage arising from the group's use of the library.

Use Regulations

Appropriate use of gathering places requires patron common sense. Staff will use their best judgment in determining inappropriate use and discuss with patrons any activities that are unsuitable.

Patrons may not use the name of the library in any publicity for non-library sponsored or co-sponsored meetings except to designate the meeting location.

Hennepin County Library may not be used as the official address or headquarters of any organization.

Regulations for consuming food and beverages vary by the type of room.

Meeting Rooms: Food and beverages are allowed only if they are commercially prepared. Groups are required to provide all supplies and are responsible for clean-up. No alcoholic beverages may be served.

Conference Rooms and Study Rooms: Covered beverages only.

Piano Room: No food and beverages of any kind.

Rental Venues: A private events management and catering firm, contracted by the library, provides exclusive catering services and is the sole food and beverage provider for the rental venues. Some exceptions for small groups may be made by the catering firm. Alcoholic beverages may be served by catering firm personnel at events that are closed to the general public.

No candles or flames of any kind may be used.

No balloons of any kind may be used.

The library may not be used to store equipment, material, or supplies.

Tobacco use is prohibited on all property owned by Hennepin County government.

Consequences of Violations

Failure to follow this policy may result in the loss of future reservation and use privileges.

If cleaning service beyond normal vacuuming and trash removal is required, clean-up will be billed at the rate established in the Hennepin County Library Board Fee and Fine Policy.


In the case of any disputes over use of meeting rooms, the Library Board will be the final authority in granting or refusing permission for use of library meeting rooms, per MN Statutes 383B.239.

Associated Policies and Laws


This administrative policy is reviewed every three (3) years by the Library Services Division Manager (or designee) in consultation with the Operations Division Manager (or designee) and in conjunction with the Hennepin County Library Board’s review of the Reserving and Using Public Gathering Places Policy. Upon completion of the review, this policy is revised or reaffirmed.

Policy History

Next review: 11/2015
Last reviewed/revised: 08/01/2014
Adopted: 02/18/2010