Library Documents

Mission Statement

The mission of the Merriam-Gilbert Public Library is to empower and enrich the lives of its users by providing free and equal access to information, promoting lifelong learning, and inspiring people to come together for educational, cultural, and community activities.

Long Range Plan

The Merriam-Gilbert Public Library’s Long Range Plan was developed over the course of two years. The planning process included the Library Staff, the Board of Trustees, and the Friends of the Library, as well as several members of the community of West Brookfield who served on a Planning Committee to provide feedback, guidance, and suggestions for bettering our library.

The Long Range Plan goes hand-in-hand with an Action Plan. While the MGPL’s Long Range Plan spans a period of five years, Action Plans span a period of one year. The Long Range Plan speaks of long term goals for the library, while the Action Plan explains the actions that will be taken each year to accomplish the goals set forth in the Long Range Plan.

Long Range Plan, 2017-2021

Action Plan, Fiscal Year 2018


The Policies of the Merriam-Gilbert Public Library are developed through a collaboration between the Library Board of Trustees and the Library Staff to serve the public, provide the best possible services, and to protect the well-being of the Library, Staff, and the patrons we serve.

Art Exhibit Policy

The purpose of exhibits at the Library is to present artwork that will serve to stimulate the appreciation and understanding of art in the greater West Brookfield community.

Artists interested in exhibiting their own work or items from their personal collections will speak with the Adult Services Librarian, who reserves the right to request examples of the artwork.

Exhibits may be flat or 3 dimensional, including paintings, drawings, etchings, posters, photographs, mixed media, sculptures, textiles, pottery, crafts, and collectibles. All artwork must be properly framed prior to the exhibit, which shall not be at the Library’s expense. If artwork is approved, the exhibits will remain on display for a length of time determined by the Library Director and Adult Services Librarian. Either individuals or groups may apply to exhibit their work, and requests will be considered from professional artists, accomplished amateurs, and collectors. Those submitting a request should indicate specific exhibit dates preferred, which will be subject to final approval by the Library Director and Adult Services Librarian.

The artist(s) will work with the Library staff to develop a quality exhibit that is appropriate for the space provided. The installation of the exhibit will be the responsibility of the artist(s) and will be completed on the Thursday before the exhibit’s opening date between the hours of 10am and 7pm. The artist(s) will keep the artwork on display for the entire exhibit period. The artist(s) must remove the exhibit on the Thursday that the exhibit closes between the hours of 10am and 7pm. Any artwork that is not suitably prepared (e.g. framed, pedestals for sculptures, etc.) for exhibit and any artwork that interferes with Library operations may be refused. All exhibit specifications, including size, location, and selection of artwork require authorization from the Library Director and the Adult Services Librarian.

The Library will provide insurance coverage for the loss or damage of the artwork. Valuations will be provided by the artist/owner of the artwork and will be based upon the face value. This should be submitted prior to, or at, the installation of the exhibit on the Thursday before the opening of the exhibit. If this is not completed, then the artist forfeits the right to have art insured by the Library and the artist must sign a “Release from Liability, Indemnity and Hold Harmless Agreeement” form.

Any printed materials (e.g. pamphlets, booklets, companion catalogues, etc.) and their associated costs are the sole responsibility of the artist(s).

Artists will be allowed to keep contact information available at the circulation desk in the event that there are public inquiries concerning the purchase of their artwork.

The Library Staff are not authorized to act as agents in the sale of art displayed in or outside of the Library on behalf of the exhibiting artist(s).

The Library reserves the right to publicize the exhibit or any events related to it.

Artists may hold a public reception during the exhibit dates when their work is on display pending the Library Director’s approval.

All exhibits will be loaned free of charge to the Library and admission-free to the general public.

Approved: 03/23/2006

Revised: 01/21/2016

Reviewed: 02/16/2017

Circulation Policies

Library accounts are required to borrow materials.

Material Limits

DVDs and CDs – 5 of each per household (not per card).

Videogames –3 per household (not per card)

Materials must be at the Circulation desk five minutes prior to closing so that they can be checked out before closing time, per the Director.

Approved 1/15/2016

Reviewed: 02/16/2017

Collection Development Policy


The Merriam-Gilbert Public Library was established in 1880 as the public library for the town of West Brookfield, Massachusetts, thanks to a donation from Charles Merriam. The Library was eventually renamed the Merriam-Gilbert Public Library in 1960, when the Library received a bequest from West Brookfield native Elizabeth Gilbert.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Merriam-Gilbert Public Library is to empower and enrich the lives of its users by providing free and equal access to information, promoting lifelong learning, and inspiring people to come together for educational, cultural, and community activities.

Collection Statement

The Library staff selects a variety of library materials that will meet the needs of the community of West Brookfield. In addition to these materials the Merriam-Gilbert Public Library also regularly hosts programming that is intended to be interesting and helpful to the community.


The Merriam-Gilbert Public Library is overseen by a 6-member Board of Library Trustees. The Board has delegated the responsibility of implementing Collection Development policies to the Library Director. The Library Director may delegate to specific staff members the responsibility for selection and removal of materials in certain specific areas. These recommendations are subject to review by the Director.

Collection Development

The Merriam-Gilbert Public Library strives to provide a wide variety of materials that are in keeping with its mission and goals, and that meet the diverse needs of the community of West Brookfield. To that end, the Library staff utilizes a number of tools to aid in the selection of these materials. When selecting materials, the Merriam-Gilbert Public Library consults reviews published in sources including but not limited to Booklist, Library Journal, School Library Journal, and popular reading lists such as The New York Times Bestseller List. The Merriam-Gilbert Public Library also takes into consideration suggestions from its patrons.

The Merriam-Gilbert Public Library is a member of the Central/Western Massachusetts Automated Resource Sharing network (C/W MARS), a network of over one hundred public, academic, and special libraries in Central and Western Massachusetts.

Gift policy

The Merriam-Gilbert Public Library accepts gifts and donations from the community. These gifts and donations become the property of the Merriam-Gilbert Public Library and undergo the same selection criteria that other items in the collection do. In cases in which the donor wishes to receive an acknowledgement of the donated materials, s/he will be asked to fill out a Donated Items Receipt Form (available at the front desk). The donor will then receive a receipt from the Library.

The Library is unable to provide values for items donated, but donors are encouraged to consult a tax advisor and/or the IRS publication 526.

Intellectual Freedom

The Merriam-Gilbert Public Library advocates for the rights of its patrons to express their intellectual freedom, and is supported by the American Library Association in statements such as the Library Bill of Rights, the Freedom to Read, the Freedom to View, and Free Access to Libraries for Minors.

Limitations placed on the borrowing practices of minors are at the sole discretion of their parents or guardians.

Users who wish to comment on a resource may fill out a Request for Reconsideration Form, available as an appendix to this document, and turn it in to the Library Director. The receipt of the form will be acknowledged via email within 10 business days. The request will be brought before the Board at their next regular meeting. The individual who submitted the request will be notified by mail within 10 business days of the Board’s decision regarding the resource in question.

Approved: 10/15/2015

Reviewed: 02/16/2017

E-Reader Policy
    • It is the policy of the Merriam-Gilbert Public Library (MGPL) to lend e-Readers to all eligible Library patrons.
    • Eligible patrons are defined as those with a library record, whose fines do not exceed $10.00, who do not have any lost items on their records, and who have up-to-date contact information.
    • e-Readers may be borrowed for a 2 week period, with 1 renewal for an additional week if there is not a waiting list for the e-Reader.
    • Patrons will be required to pay a replacement cost of $350 if:
      • The e-Reader is not returned
      • The e-Reader is returned with damage that renders it inoperable
      • Any damage or tampering is assessed, including any evidence of misuse, accident, modification, attempts to access internal parts, removal of labels, keys, or equipment components
    • If the e-Reader is returned without its power cord, storage case, and/or stylus, the patron is responsible for replacing the missing component(s).
    • An e-Reader Loan Agreement must be read and signed by the borrower before the device is checked out for the first time.


  • The equipment remains the property of the MGPL. The borrower is responsible for safeguarding and protecting the device against damage and loss throughout the loan period.
    Revised 2/16/2017



Fax and Copy Machine Policy

The Merriam-Gilbert Public Library’s fax and copy machines are available during regular library hours for the public to send, receive, and reproduce information within restriction guidelines (Title 17, U.S. code). Fax service is provided at no cost to the public, but an in-kind donation is encouraged. The first 6 copies are free, and are .10 per page thereafter.

Fax and copier use are provided on a self-serve basis. Staff members are available for general assistance if necessary, provided said assistance does not impede service at the Circulation Desk.

The Unattended Child Policy shall be observed relative to fax and copier usage when a child accompanies an adult, in order to maintain a safe and comfortable environment for all.

Only standard 8.5” X 11” copies may be inserted into the fax machine.

The Library is not responsible for the success/failure of transmission or quality of copy.

International faxes are prohibited.

The Library Staff retain the right to limit access to the fax and/or copy machines if this policy is violated.

Approved: 06/16/2011

Revised: 03/17/2016

Reviewed: 02/16/2017

Gift Policy

The Merriam-Gilbert Public Library welcomes gift books, materials, and other items of a permanent nature with the understanding that the gift will be evaluated in accordance with the criteria and objectives by which purchased materials are judged. Donations become the property of the Merriam-Gilbert Public Library and will be utilized at the discretion of the Library Director. While every effort will be made to assist patrons with their donation, depending on the time of day, staff availability, or other circumstances, help may not be immediately available to lift or move donated materials.

In general, donated items will be put to one of three uses:

  • They will be assimilated into the collection
  • They will be given to the Friends of the Library, who will add the items to their Book Sale
  • They will be donated to Big-Hearted Books, an organization which provides donated items to those who can enjoy them.

Library staff cannot be expected to provide an appraisal of donated material. The appraisal of a gift to the Library for tax purposes is the responsibility of the donor. The acceptance of a gift that has been appraised by a third and disinterested party does not in any way imply an endorsement of the appraisal by the Library. Upon request, donors will be provided a “Donated Items Receipt” form that they can fill out to acknowledge the gifted materials.

Approved: 04/10
Revised: 09/11/2015
Reviewed: 02/16/2017

Inclement Weather Policy

On Mondays and Wednesdays, if the Quaboag Regional School District experiences delays, the Library will either open at 11:00 a.m. or remain closed, at the Director’s discretion. If there is an early release, the Library will close with the Quaboag Regional School District closes.

In situations of inclement weather on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, the decision of whether or not the Library will open or remain closed will be determined on a weather-permitting basis at the discretion of the Library Director.

During inclement weather that includes the presence of thunder and/or lightning, the Library will shut down all of its computers until the storm subsides.

Approved: 12/2001

Revised: 02/16/2017

Internet Policy

The Internet allows users to connect to resources outside the Library. The Merriam-Gilbert Public Library does not monitor information accessed through the Internet, nor does the Library have complete knowledge of what is on the Internet. While the Internet can be a valuable resource that provides educational, entertaining, and culturally enriching information, other information on the Internet may be inaccurate, outdated, or unavailable at times. The Merriam-Gilbert Public Library cannot be held responsible for the content of the Internet or consequences of Internet usage. Using the Internet has aspects that are inherently dangerous. As with all Library materials, a child’s use of the Internet is the responsibility of the parents and/or legal guardian. Please be advised that the Library’s Internet access is unfiltered and available to all patrons, regardless of age. The Library Board of Trustees and its employees assume no responsibility for harm of any type arising from the use of any information, software, or data obtained from or posted to the Internet.

In addition, the Merriam-Gilbert Public Library offers wireless access to our Internet service. The Library’s Internet Use Policy governs the use of the Internet over our wireless access points in all areas within range of the connection, both inside and outside the building on the Library’s premises.

Wireless Internet poses the same risks to your personal information that a wired network poses, as well as some additional risks. Wireless users need to educate themselves about these risks, and take steps to secure their personal information accordingly. Cautious wireless users may choose not to transmit their credit card information and passwords while using any wireless hotspot, including the Library’s. The Library cannot ensure the safety of your data when you use either our wired or wireless Internet access.

Prohibited use of the Merriam-Gilbert Public Library’s Internet connection includes:

  • Using the Internet for illegal purposes
  • Using the Internet in violation of the Massachusetts General Law 272 Section 31, the Harmful to Minors Statute
  • Unauthorized copying of copyright-protected material in any format
  • Transmission of chain mail, broadcast letters, or junk mail of any type
  • Transmission of threatening, harassing, defamatory, or obscene materials
  • Unauthorized access to remote computer systems

Library Staff will provide general information on the settings necessary to access the Internet via our wireless connection. If a user has problems accessing the Internet through the connection, Staff will only verify that the Library’s connection is operating normally.

Additionally, Library Staff cannot be expected to assist with or perform troubleshooting on a patron’s personal device. The Library cannot accept liability for handling a patron’s own technology. The Library will not be held responsible for any loss of data or damage to personal equipment.

Patrons’ time on the Internet is limited to two 30-minute sessions per day. Additional time may be granted at the discretion of Library Staff. Patrons are financially responsible for damage to the equipment that occurs during usage. Library users have access to the printer. The first 3 pages printed are free, and each page is 10 cents thereafter. Printing from the wireless network is currently available.

Approved: 03/2012
Revised: 12/8/2015
Reviewed: 02/16/2017

Library Card Policy

Patrons must present their library cards in order to allow staff to access their accounts. This requirement applies to any transaction between the patron and the Library including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Borrowing materials
  • Renewing materials (if the item is not in hand)
  • Updating address or other personal information
  • Accessing interlibrary loan information

Patrons without a library card present may have their account looked up by a Library Staff member, and will be expected to answer a basic personal question to confirm their identity.

Patrons who have lost their library card are entitled to one replacement, free of charge. Each subsequent replacement card will cost $2.

Revised: 01/21/2016
Reviewed: 02/16/2017

Meeting Room Policy

The Merriam-Gilbert Public Library’s second floor meeting room is available to both for-profit and non-profit organizations and individuals engaged in educational, cultural, intellectual or charitable activities. The Library, in making this space available, subscribes to the equitable use of its facilities regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of the individuals or groups requesting its use. The following regulations apply to all groups interested in the use of the meeting room. Organizations that violate these requirements may forfeit future use of the meeting room.

Meetings must be open to the public and must maintain normal handicapped access from the elevator, through the meeting room, and into the non-fiction stacks.

Meetings must begin and end during Library hours of operation and be scheduled accordingly: one meeting at a time, at least one week in advance of the requested date.

Permission will be granted on a first come, first served basis, by either the Library Director, the Adult Services Librarian, or the Children’s Services Librarian. Permission given to a group in no way implies an endorsement of a group’s policies, beliefs, or programs by the Library or its staff.

Smoking and the consumption of alcohol in the Library are prohibited. Food and non-alcoholic drink in limited quantities may be served only within the meeting room and with the prior consent of the Library Director.

Organizations are responsible for completely restoring the meeting room to its original state at the close of the session. Damage to Library property as a result of an organization’s use of the room is the responsibility of that organization.

Any questions pertaining to interpretation of this policy should be conveyed to the Library Director. Final determination rests with the Library Board of Trustees.

Approved: 07/17/1997

Revised: 02/16/2017

Patron Rights and Responsibilities Policy

The Merriam-Gilbert Public Library is a free institution that is open and available to all. It is the right of every patron to feel safe and comfortable when visiting the Library. With this goal in mind, the following practices must be observed at all times by Library patrons:

  • Children under the age of 9 must be accompanied by a responsible caregiver over the age of 14 at all times. Please see our Unattended Children Policy for more information.
  • Beverages in covered containers may be consumed away from any electronic devices belonging to the Library.
  • Staircases and other indoor passageways will be kept free of obstacles, such as strollers and bookbags.
  • Patrons will observe Library closing times and cooperate with Library Staff as they clear the building at closing time.
  • Patrons listening to music, watching videos, playing video games, or otherwise engaging in noise-producing computer activities will use earbuds or headphones so that other patrons are not disturbed by the noise. Headphones are available at the Service Desk if needed.
  • One person at a time will use the computers. Patrons will refrain from crowding around a single computer.
  • Patrons shall dispose of any garbage in the proper waste receptacles in and around the Library.
  • Patrons shall discuss child-friendly content in and within earshot of the Children’s Room.

To ensure that the Library remains a safe and comfortable place where all patrons can coexist peacefully, the following behaviors are prohibited:

  • Engaging in any behavior that is in violation of local, state, or federal law, or of Library Policies.
  • Raucous or vociferous behavior that disturbs other patrons.
  • Defacing or damaging Library property, materials, or the Library building.
  • Smoking or consuming alcohol in the Library.
  • Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs in the Library.
  • Fighting, challenging to a fight, pushing, shoving, striking, or throwing objects.
  • Threatening Staff or patrons, either physically or verbally; stalking; harassing; bullying; staring; touching offensively; or exposing oneself.
  • Using profane or obscene language.
  • Sex acts or excessive displays of affection.
  • Bringing weapons into the library. Any object deemed dangerous shall be considered a weapon.
  • Soliciting
  • Political canvassing without prior permission from the Library Director.
  • Lying down on the floor or in passageways.
  • Misusing Library restrooms in such a manner that prevents or prohibits others from accessing them.

Please also be aware that:

  • The Library is not responsible for personal items that are lost or stolen on the Library’s premises.
  • Patrons must cooperate with Library Staff, who are entrusted with interpreting and carrying out Library Policies and Procedures.
  • Patrons whose behavior disturbs or disrupts other patrons’ use of the Library may be asked to leave.
  • The Children’s Room is reserved for use by children, their parents or caregivers, tutors, or others actively browsing the Juvenile collection.

Patrons who do not comply with this and other Library Policies may be asked to leave the Library. Continued disregard for the Library’s Policies may result in suspension of Library privileges. The Library Staff reserve the right to contact the Police Department or other Emergency Response Teams as is deemed necessary.

Approved 3/17/2016
Reviewed: 02/16/2017

Policies Regarding Children

Children are always welcome at the Merriam-Gilbert Public Library. Our Children’s collection contains a wide variety of materials including, but not limited to, books in various formats, magazines, music, and films. Staff do not screen or monitor patron usage of any library materials or services. Likewise, children have the same access rights to the Internet that adults do, as accorded by the American Library Association Library Bill of Rights. Therefore, it is the responsibility of parents and/or caregivers to supervise their children to ensure their safety as well as uphold their particular family values. Librarians are not permitted to reveal the content or activity of the patron record of a child over the age of 12 to anyone other than the cardholder. Therefore, the Library encourages parents and/or caregivers to be involved with their child’s choices, and recommends communication about those choices directly with their child.

Unattended Children

In order to provide for the general safety of children using the Merriam-Gilbert Public Library, as well as all persons using the Library, and also to prevent undue disruption of normal library activities, the following rules and regulations are a matter of policy at the Merriam-Gilbert Public Library.

  1. Children under 9 years old must at all times be attended to and adequately supervised by a responsible person (an adult or adolescent age 14+), and not by Library personnel.
  2. Children 9 years of age or older may visit the Library unattended. Disruptive children will be given direction and a warning. If these attempts fail, Library Staff will contact the child’s caregiver. If caregivers cannot be reached, Library Staff reserve the right to contact the Policy Department.
  3. The Merriam-Gilbert Public Library assumes no responsibility for children of any age left unattended at the Library. If a child is left unattended at closing, an attempt will be made to contact the child’s parent or caregiver. If this attempt is unsuccessful, Library Staff may call the Police Department, which may take custody of the child, in order to ensure that the child is safe and supervised until he or she can be picked up. Under no circumstances will Library Staff give minor patrons a ride home.
  4. Parents/caregivers assume all liability for damage done by their children to any library property.

Children’s Programming Policy

Any child under 9 years old must be accompanied to Library programs by a responsible person (an adult or adolescent age 14+). Parents/caregivers are required to remain in the room in which the program is taking place for the duration of the program.

Approved: 01/2008
Revised: 01/21/2016
Reviewed: 02/16/2017

Reciprocity of Lending and Borrowing Privileges at the MGPL

MGL, Ch. 78. Sec. 19B 1 and 6 requires public libraries to meet minimum standards of service in order to obtain annual certification and state aid grants. The Merriam-Gilbert Public Library (MGPL) extends full library privileges to all residents from certified communities.

Conversely, Mass. State Law (605 CMR 4.01) permits public libraries to deny borrowing privileges to residents from decertified communities. Accordingly, residents from decertified communities are not granted borrowing privileges, either directly from the MGPL’s collection or through patron-placed holds.

This policy is based on the understanding that true reciprocity is possible only where each community provides adequate funding needed to maintain minimum service levels at their library. If one community fails to adequately support its library, the reciprocal relationship is invalidated as one community assumes the service burden for another.

However, “in house” utilization of the collection, Internet usage, program attendance, and fax/copy services are permitted at the MGPL. Full library privileges are reestablished immediately following a community’s recertification from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.

Approved: 04/17/2008
Revised: 01/21/2016
Reviewed: 02/16/2017

Staffing Levels

During open hours there shall be a minimum of 2 employees on duty. Should the situation arise whereby only 1 staff member is available to work and an attempt to locate additional professional staff has been unsuccessful, the Library shall be closed until the required staffing levels can be achieved.

Approved: 03/2009
Revised: 01/21/2016
Reviewed: 02/16/2017

Volunteer Policy

Volunteers at the Merriam-Gilbert Public Library are defined as individuals who augment the efforts of paid staff through providing support, which enhances and expands the Library’s overall mission of service to the public.

A volunteer must be at least twelve years old to assist with either Adult or Children’s services. Volunteers are expected to adhere to a schedule approved by the Department Head, and just like a paid employee, communicate changes to that schedule (e.g. sickness). Volunteers are required to review and follow the code of ethics as accorded by the American Library Association relative to privacy standards concerning both patron information and exposure to daily events and situations within the Library.

Roles and responsibilities may include:

  • Shelving
  • Shelf reading
  • Preparing new materials for circulation, including stamping, attaching barcodes and spine labels, etc.
  • Delivering materials to the homebound
  • Assisting with programs, projects, and special events
  • Light housekeeping (e.g. dusting, polishing furniture)

Tasks that are never undertaken:

  • Answering the phone
  • Providing reference information to patrons
  • Working behind the circulation desk (i.e.: checking in or out materials)
  • Cataloging materials
  • Commenting on patrons’ materials selections

Background Checks

As part of the appointment process, the Merriam-Gilbert Public Library will investigate an applicant’s work and personal history, which may, depending upon a prospective volunteer’s assignment, include a Criminal Offender Record Inquiry (CORI) and/or a Sex Offender Registry Information (SORI) check.

Approved: 04/2009
Revised: 03/17/2016
Reviewed: 02/16/2017