DMPL Policies

1. Confidentiality

It is the policy of the Board of Trustees of the Des Moines Public Library to protect, as far as possible, the privacy of customers in accordance with the Code of Iowa and the American Library Association’s statement of professional ethics. Staff members shall not under any circumstances ever give a third party information about what a library customer is reading or requesting from the library’s collection. Information will be provided over the telephone or by email to card holders who verify their identity by providing personal identification such as a PIN (Personal Identification Number) or library card barcode number.

Library personnel shall be aware that all library registration, circulation, and reference records must remain confidential and are protected by library policy and under state law (Code of Iowa Section 22.7)

Information concerning a customer’s registration record (including whether or not they have a card), information sought or received, and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted, including but not limited to database search records, reference questions and interviews, interlibrary loan records, information about materials downloaded or placed on ‘hold’ or ‘reserve,’ and other personally identifiable information about uses of library materials, programs, facilities, or services, shall not be made available to any citizen, agency or state, federal or local government authority, unless required under Iowa Code Section 22.7.

A staff member receiving a request to examine or obtain information relating to customer records shall immediately refer the person making the request to the Library Director who shall explain the confidentiality policy.

The Library Director is designated by the Library Board of Trustees as the “lawful custodian” of library records. Subpoenas for information shall be referred to the Library Director.

The Community Resource Specialist (Library Social Worker) is a mandatory reporter. This policy does not prevent the Community Resource Specialist from fulfilling such obligation.

Chapter 22.7 Confidential records. Code of Iowa 2023

“The following public records shall be kept confidential, unless otherwise ordered by a court, by the lawful custodian of the records, or by another person duly authorized to release such information: …

13. The records of a library which, by themselves or when examined with other public records, would reveal the identity of the library patron checking out or requesting an item or information from the library. The records shall be released to a criminal or juvenile justice agency only pursuant to an investigation of a particular person or organization suspected of committing a known crime. The records shall be released only upon a judicial determination that a rational connection exists between the requested release of information and a legitimate end and that the need for the information is cogent and compelling.

14. The material of a library, museum or archive which has been contributed by a private person to the extent of any limitation that is a condition of the contribution.”

Policy Interpretation as it applies to parents and guardians of minors:

• A minor child is defined as a person under 18 years of age.

• If a parent or guardian has the minor’s barcode number and PIN, they may access the minor’s account via the online catalog.

• The library cannot ensure privacy of circulation records during the process of collecting overdue materials.

• The library cannot ensure privacy of personal or circulation records when engaging third party companies or consortiums in circulation functions, such as downloadable e-books, merchant services in credit card/debit card transactions, etc.

Adopted by the Board of Trustees, July 16, 1970
Modified November 14, 2000
Adopted by the Board of Trustees, November 20, 2012
Modified May 16, 2017

Modified December 19, 2023

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This statement of principles that govern the collection and protection of information that may be collected during a visit to this site is provided for informational purposes only The information presented here is not meant to be a contract of any type, either express or implied, and should not be treated as such by site visitors. The information in this statement and/or the policies described here may change at any time, without prior notice to any visitor.

This Online Privacy Policy applies to your use of the Des Moines Public Library websites and interactive services. By using any of our websites and interactive services, you agree that this Online Privacy Policy govern your use of our websites and any dispute concerning them. Please take a few minutes to read them before using our websites.

Application of Iowa Open Records Statute

Chapter 22 and other sections of the Iowa Code control access to personally identifiable information in public records at state and local levels of government in Iowa. Chapter 22 establishes general policies for access to government records in the State of Iowa. Other sections of the Iowa Code, as well as certain federal statutes deal with confidentiality issues. For example, records which would reveal the identity of a library patron checking out or requesting an item or information from the library cannot be revealed unless certain circumstances are met. The Des Moines Public Library contracts with other parties to provide certain services available on this site. DMPL contracts with some third-party vendors for some services and resources. DMPL strives to keep this information private, but the library cannot guarantee this. 

Children Under 13 Years of Age

Children should always get permission from their parents before sending any personal information about themselves over the internet. If you are under 13 years old, please do not provide any Des Moines Public Library website with any personally identifying information (such as your name, address or e-mail address).

Collection of Information

No personally identifiable information is collected about visitors who simply this site. If you participate in a survey or send an e-mail, your e-mail address and the contents of the e-mail and information volunteered in response to the survey will be collected. Visitors who request services available through this site may be required to furnish additional information which may be required by law or which is necessary to provide the service requested. In all cases, the Des Moines Public Library strives to collect the minimum information necessary to comply with applicable law and/or provide the service requested.

Visitors may be requested to furnish information to assist the library in improving the facilities available on this site, or to be used in analysis and improvement of our service delivery systems. Such information is collected on an "opt-in" basis, which requires that the visitor provide specific approval for the collection of such data. A visitor who subscribes to a service available on this site may "opt out" of that service at any time.

Any information furnished by a visitor to this site, for any reason, may be filed and maintained by the library for its own use in performing statistical analysis, improving its service delivery system or responding appropriately to a request for service or information. Visitors should be aware that the collection of personal information requested from or volunteered by children on-line or by email will be treated in the same manner as information given by an adult and may be subject to public access.

We may collect specific and non-personal information about each visitor to this site. This information is collected automatically during site operations and includes Internet Protocol (IP) address of the visitor's ISP (Internet Service Provider) or computer, type of browser used, the date and time of the visit, the Web pages or services you accessed at this site and the IP addresses of the locations to which the visitor linked during his or her visit to our Web site. This information is strictly used for statistical reporting and site maintenance purposes in order to improve the content of our Web services and to help us understand how people are using our services. It is not connected to personally identifiable information that may be collected as described above. 

Access To Personal Information

Any visitor concerned with the accuracy of information about them should contact the Administrative Offices of the Des Moines Public Library. You can review any personal information we collect about you. You may recommend changes to your personal information you believe in error by submitting a written request that credibly shows the error. If you believe that your personal information is being used for a purpose other than those described in this policy, you may contact us. In all cases, we will take reasonable steps to verify your identity before granting access or making corrections.

Protection of Information

The Des Moines Public Library does not sell, rent or otherwise distribute visitors’ information, including electronic mail addresses, to any outside company or organization. We do not reveal specific information about subscribers or other personally identifiable data to unaffiliated third parties for their independent use, except if required to do so by the Iowa Open Records Act or other law. This policy applies to information that may be collected on the library’s site and on that of any third party with whom the library contracts to provide Internet related-services.

The Des Moines Public Library maintains security standards and procedures regarding unauthorized access to customer information to prevent unauthorized removal or alteration of data. The City meets accepted standards of security for all transactions that may involve payment of fees through a service available through this site, including the use of encryption and SSL services. Credit card numbers are not stored longer than is required for verification and completion of the subject transaction.

Use of "Cookies"

To better serve our users we may use "cookies" to customize your browsing experience. Cookies are simple text files stored on your computer by your web browser. They provide a method of distinguishing among visitors to our site. Cookies created on your computer by using this site do not contain personally identifying information and do not compromise your privacy or security. We use the cookie feature only to store a randomly generated identifying tag on your computer. Visitors may refuse the cookie or delete the cookie file by using any of the widely available methods.


This site provides links to other web sites. These may include links to web sites operated by other government agencies, nonprofit organizations and/or private businesses. This Privacy Policy applies only to the Des Moines Public Library site and to third-party sites that provide Internet related-services for the Des Moines Public Library under contract. When you link to any other web site, you are subject to the privacy policy of that site. Visitors linking to another site are encouraged to examine the privacy policy of that site.

Neither the Des Moines Public Library, nor any agency, officer, or employee of the Des Moines Public Library warrants the accuracy, reliability or timeliness of any information published by this system, nor endorses any content, viewpoints, products, or services linked to from this system, and shall not be held liable for any losses caused by reliance on the accuracy, reliability or timeliness of such information. Portions of such information may be incorrect or not current. Any person or entity that relies on any information obtained from this system does so at his or her own risk.

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2. Library Conduct

All persons have free and equal access to the Des Moines Public Library (DMPL or Library), its facilities and services during its regular business hours. The DMPL’s Customer Behavior Policy has a threefold purpose: to protect the rights and safety of Library customers and volunteers, to protect the rights and safety of staff members, and to preserve the Library’s materials, facilities, property, and grounds. This Policy is in effect at all times for all patrons while in the Central Library and any branch of the Library or on Library property. DMPL reserves the right to make temporary changes to this Policy for public or employee safety purposes.

Board of Library Trustees

Jessica Cezar, President
Bob Mahaffey, Vice President
Tim Hickman, Secretary
Isobel Osius
Wes Graham

Library Director
Susan Woody

Approved by the Des Moines Public Library Board of Trustees: August 26, 2014. Revised March 21, 2017. Revised December 20, 2022. Revised November 21, 2023.



Violations of the requirements of this Policy or the commission of any crime on Library property will have consequences. To enforce this policy, Library staff are authorized, but not required, to call for police assistance, security guard assistance, or to take other measures reasonably appropriate and necessary. A violation of any Federal, State of Iowa, Polk County, or City of Des Moines law or regulation may be reported to the appropriate law enforcement agency. Depending on the severity of the violation of this Policy as determined by the Library Director or designee(s), enforcement may include, but is not limited to, issuance of warning(s), immediate request for removal or involuntary removal from the premises, and suspension for a period of time from the Central Library or one or more Library branches.

Any DMPL patron suspended from the Library for a period of one year or longer shall be entitled to appeal that suspension to the Library Director, or to the Board of Library Trustees if said suspension was ordered by the Library Director. Said appeal shall consist of a written request to the Library Director, or Board if applicable, to reconsider the decision of the DMPL, including a full statement of all of the patron’s facts and objections to said suspension, and must be received by the Library Director, or by the Board Clerk or Board President if applicable, at any time during the suspension period. The patron may request that the Library Director, or Board if applicable, take statements from the patron in person; said request is subject to the discretion of the Library Director, or Board if applicable.

The applicable DMPL staff will provide any pertinent information in writing to the Library Director, or if applicable the Library Director will provide any pertinent information in writing to the Board, within 30 calendar days of receipt of said appeal. Within 15 business days of receipt of materials from applicable DMPL staff, or if applicable at the next regularly scheduled Board meeting following receipt of materials from the Library Director, the Library Director, or Board if applicable, will review the written record, consisting of the patron’s written appeal and the DMPL written materials; will take verbal statements from the patron and from the applicable Library staff, security personnel, or law enforcement official(s), if verbal statements are allowed by the Library Director, or by the Board if applicable; and will act on said appeal. The Library Director, or the Board if applicable, shall uphold the appealed decision if there is reasonable evidence that the underlying violation of this Policy occurred and that said decision was not arbitrary and capricious under the circumstances. Notice of the Library Director’s decision, or the Board’s decision if applicable, shall be provided to the patron in writing within 10 business days of said decision.


1. No DMPL patron shall fail to act in accordance with federal, state, city and local laws.

2. No DMPL patron shall engage in sexual activity of any kind or cause indecent exposure on Library premises.

3. No DMPL patron shall harass (including physical, sexual, verbal, or stalking), intimidate, or discriminate against any member of the Library staff or other patron(s) on Library premises.

4. No DMPL patron shall use or threaten to use weapons of any type on Library premises. No person shall carry a firearm or weapon into the Central Library or other Library branch that is within a “weapons free zone” as defined by Iowa Code Section 724.4A, as allowed by Iowa law. Weapons shall mean any gun, device, or instrument as defined in Iowa Code Chapter 724 or prohibited in Des Moines Municipal Code Chapter 70, Article III, to the extent allowed by State law.

5. No DMPL patron shall refuse to comply with the lawful directive of a Library staff member, security personnel, or law enforcement officer(s).

6. No DMPL patron shall consume, possess, or be under the influence of illicit or intoxicating substances on Library property.

7. No DMPL patron shall use Library property to view sexually explicit images on the Internet or violate the Library’s Internet Acceptable Use Policy.

8. No DMPL patron shall enter non-public or locked areas on Library premises, unless accompanied by a staff member or through prior authorization from a staff member.

9. No DMPL patron shall use a false Library card or one that has not been issued to the patron or their dependent(s) by the DMPL. A patron may only use their own Library card to access Library computers or to check out or download materials.

10. No DMPL patron shall disrupt other patrons from using DMPL services. Prohibited disruptions include, but are not limited to, shouting, carrying on loud conversations, or using audible devices without earphones. Cell phone ringers should be set to silent or vibrate.

11. No DMPL patron shall remove Library materials without authorization; authorization is obtained by use of a DMPL Library card. DMPL patrons shall cooperate with staff/security/police to allow belongings to be searched in accordance with State law.

12. No DMPL patron shall smoke, vape, or use tobacco products on Library premises or within 25 (twenty-five) feet of the library entrances.

13. No DMPL patron shall congregate on Library premises in a manner which obstructs, hinders, prevents or disrupts access into or out of the premises or the normal functions carried on in said premises. This policy shall not prohibit peaceful picketing, public speaking, the ordinary conduct of a legitimate business, or other lawful expressions of opinion not in contravention of other laws.

14. Patrons may bring no more than two bags into the library, only one of which may be a small gym bag or school-type backpack. Other acceptable bags are a small store bag, briefcase, laptop bag, messenger bag or purse. Wheeled carts, luggage, bedrolls, and trash bags of any kind are not allowed. Library staff will not store a patron’s personal belongings while the patron is in the library.

15. No DMPL patron shall use any collections, equipment, facilities and furniture on the Library premises for any means other than their intended purposes.

16. No DMPL patron shall fail to provide proper supervision of children and dependent(s) for whom they are responsible. A parent or caregiver is responsible for the safety, behavior and well-being of their children at all times on Library property. See DMPL Unattended Child Policy for further details.

17. All DMPL patrons must be fully clothed, including with shirt and shoes.

18. All DMPL patrons must be free of strong, pervasive odors including body odor and odors caused by perfume, cologne or alcohol.

19. All DMPL patrons shall share Library equipment and furniture so that no one person monopolizes Library property or prevents others from using them. Adult patrons shall not use seating in the designated youth area when not accompanied by their minor child(ren).

20. No DMPL patron shall enter the library with animal(s) except for service animals necessary for those with disabilities. Service animals are defined as “any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual or other mental disability” (28 CFR 35.104) and also as any animal which is under control and specially trained to assist a person with a disability (Iowa Code Section 216C.11).

21. No DMPL patron shall consume food or beverages within Library buildings except for those nonalcoholic beverages in lidded containers.

22. No patron shall sleep or exhibit the appearance of sleeping, lay down on the floor, benches, or other furniture, have feet on furniture, or block aisles, exits, or entrances.

23. No DMPL patron shall use Library bathrooms for unreasonable or unintended purposes, including but not limited to bathing and laundering.

24. No DMPL patron shall deposit litter anywhere on Library premises other than in garbage receptacles provided.

25. No DMPL patron shall leave packages, backpacks, luggage, or any other personal items unattended. Personal property must be within sight of the owner. Library staff will not store a patron’s personal belongings while patron is in the library and the library is not responsible for theft, damage to, or loss of said personal belongings.

26. Casual, non-professional and non-commercial photography and filming activities in designated public spaces are generally allowed without advanced permission from the Des Moines Public Library. Library staff may terminate any filming or photography that appears to interfere with a patron’s use of the Library or the Library’s ability to conduct business. Library staff will intervene if filming or photography appears to potentially compromise public safety or security.

27. No DMPL patron shall use skateboards on Library property

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In order to provide for the general welfare of all persons using the library, and to provide for the general safety of children using the Public Library of Des Moines, the following rules and regulations shall be made a matter of policy at the Public Library of Des Moines.

  1. All children under ten years shall, at all times, be attended and adequately supervised by a responsible person, e.g. an adult or a mature adolescent at least 12 years old. A reasonable attempt will be made to locate the responsible party in the event a child is left unattended.  If no responsible party is found, it may be necessary to notify the police.
  2. Children ten years and older may use the library unattended, subject to rules and regulations of the Public Library of Des Moines concerning behavior, conduct and demeanor.
  3. Parents/guardians are responsible for their children's actions while the children are on library property.  Staff members should inform the accompanying adult of problem behavior should the adult fail to notice or volunteer correction.
  4. The Public Library of Des Moines assumes no responsibility for children left unattended on library premises.
  5. The library will call the Des Moines Police if a child under the age of 18 is left at the library without transportation after library closing hours.  The parent or guardian of the child will be charged a fee of $1.00 per minute per child if a library staff member is required to stay after closing until a responsible party or the police arrive.

Adopted by the Board of Trustees, November 12, 2002
Approved with no changes 1-17-17

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Public internet users are expected to follow the guidelines of the Des Moines Public Library Customer Behavior Policy. 

Accessing Internet Workstations 

  1. Users must use their own library card.
  2. Library card users and guest users are limited to a period of two hours internet usage per day.
  3. Each building will set a limit for the number of users permitted at a workstation at one time.
  4. Users are responsible for the cost of pages printed. Those unfamiliar with printing from the internet are encouraged to seek staff assistance when attempting to print for the first time.
  5. Internet workstations automatically shut down fifteen minutes before closing time.



Hotspots are the property of the library and an extension of Internet access.

  1. The library has received funding from the federal Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) to purchase hotspots. Any ECF supported equipment and services can only be provided to patrons who declare they do not have access to the equipment or services sufficient to access the internet.
  2. Service is limited to City of Des Moines, Windsor Heights, and Saylor Township residents.
  3. Users must use their own library card.
  4. The internet user/borrower must adhere to the Des Moines Public Library Internet Use Policy

Staff Assistance

The library staff cannot provide in-depth computer/hotspot training outside the computer training classes but will attempt to answer basic questions or help users locate resources on the internet. Staff can also provide information on where to get appropriate training. Books, manuals, and other reference sources will also be made available.


Access for Children

As with other library materials, monitoring of a child’s access to the Internet is the responsibility of the parent or legal guardian. Supervision must be provided for children under the age of ten.


Prohibitions and Sanctions

  1. Users are prohibited from viewing material deemed inappropriate for a public setting.

  2. Users are not permitted to install, delete, or modify library hardware or software.

  3. Files saved to the computer are automatically deleted at the end of each user’s session.

  4. Misuse of the computer or Internet may result in the loss of Internet/hotspot privileges.

  5. As with printed material, not all Internet resources provide accurate, complete, or current information. It is the responsibility of individual users to evaluate the validity of all information found.

Supported Functions

  1. Library internet access is intended as an information resource therefore, the following Internet protocols are not supported: Usenet newsgroups, Telnet, Internet Relay Chat (IRC), File Transfer Protocol (FTP) and Peer-to-Peer File Sharing (P2P File Sharing).
  2. The library’s choice of browser as well as sound, video, and other browser plug-ins that exploit the multimedia capabilities of the Internet will be incorporated through careful selection by the library and the City of Des Moines Information Technology Department.

Legal Considerations

  1. Activities that violate local, state, or federal statutes are prohibited.
  2. Copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code) prohibits the unauthorized reproduction or distribution of copyrighted materials, except as permitted by the principles of “fair use.” Users may not copy or distribute electronic materials (including electronic mail, text, images, programs or data) without the explicit permission of the copyright holder. Any responsibility for any consequences of copyright infringement lies with the user; the Des Moines Public Library expressly disclaims any liability or responsibility resulting from such use.
  3. The Des Moines Public Library expressly disclaims any liability or responsibility arising from access to or use of information obtained through its electronic information systems, or any consequences thereof. Persons accessing the Internet through library wireless connections or computers provided by the library shall hold harmless the Des Moines Public Library, the Library Board of Trustees, library staff, and the City of Des Moines for any information, photo, graphic, appearance, sound, transaction, or other communication experienced or caused by accessing the Internet through the library.


Adopted by the Des Moines Public Library Board of Trustees September 16, 1998. 
Revised July 18, 2006, November 17, 2010, March 17, 2015, June 20, 2017, November 20, 2018. November 16, 2021.

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3. Public Services

  1. Any person, group or organization may make application for permission to use a library meeting room, under the conditions herein provided.  Library programs and library related meetings and events take first priority over non-library bookings in the scheduling of meeting rooms.
  2. All meeting rooms are available for meetings or programs which are educational in nature or in the public interest, and which are appropriate to the facilities.   

    In addition, the three meeting rooms in the Central Library meeting room wing are also available for private educational, cultural, intellectual, civic, charitable, professional, social and business events such as dinners, receptions, parties, or business meetings, but not including events with a commercial purpose to which the public is invited.  Such rentals are available to persons at least 18 years of age, or at least 21 years of age for events at which alcohol will be served. Contests are not permitted. Events at which alcoholic beverages will be served or which are likely to involve noise, music or other activities which interfere with the library’s operation will be permitted only during hours that the library is not open to the public.  Events at which alcohol will be served must also include food service. If the library director determines that security is needed, the cost of the security will be the responsibility of the meeting room user.
  3. All non-profit meetings shall be open to the public and shall not be limited to the membership of the group or organization sponsoring the meeting.
  4. The library director may authorize the use of library meeting rooms for library fundraising activities or for the sale of books, goods, merchandise or services only when the library will share in the profit of such sales. Otherwise, meeting rooms are not to be used for the direct sale of merchandise, goods or services for profit, or for the promotion of any commercial or profit-making venture or business. Meeting rooms are not to be used for fundraising for the benefit of private individuals or for private support of organizations, other than the Des Moines Public Library.
  5. The library will consider requests from any person, group or organization to sponsor meetings or other activities in the public interest, as determined by the library director.  
  6.  Fees and hours for any use of library meeting rooms shall be established by the library director, subject to the approval of the Board of Trustees.  Admission fees may not be charged for use of the meeting rooms.  
  7. Meeting rooms are available for single meetings or programs, but are not intended for use as a regular meeting place of a group or organization or for multiple day exhibitions or displays.
  8. Prior arrangements, including payment of a maintenance fee, are required if food or beverages are served.  Light refreshments and simple coffee/tea or water service may be provided by the meeting room user.  
  9. Materials may not be affixed to any surface, that is, walls, windows, floors, furniture or fixtures, at the library without approval by the library staff.
  10. Permission given to a person, group or organization for use of a library meeting room, other public areas of the library including reading rooms, or on library grounds, does not imply that the Des Moines Public Library supports the views espoused by that person, group or organization or constitute an endorsement of that person, group or organization.  
  11. Permission may be granted to gather petition signatures outdoors on library grounds provided the petitioners stay at least fifteen feet from the library entrance and do not block persons from entering the library.
  12. On a very limited basis groups may, with the permission of the library director, disseminate information in the gateway area of the Central Library or other library public areas.  Permission will only be granted where the activity does not interfere with the free use of the gateway area or other library area or with the safety of library patrons and the general public and only for non-profit groups seeking to disseminate materials that provide a message which is non-commercial, non-political, and not religious, delivering a message or serving a purpose that is generally accepted as civic-minded.  
  13. Any advertisement of a meeting being held in a library meeting room must clearly identify the person, group or organization sponsoring the meeting, and must include a disclaimer to the effect that use of a library meeting room does not imply that the Des Moines Public Library supports the views espoused by the person, group or organization sponsoring the meeting, nor does it constitute an endorsement of that person, group or organization by the Des Moines Public Library.  Printed materials shall not list the library as a sponsor of an event or meeting unless previously authorized by the library director or designee.
  14. Reservations for use of the meeting rooms may be made in person or over the telephone with the library staff member in charge of the meeting room schedule. A completed and signed Application for Use of Library Meeting Room must be on file at the library prior to the meeting. Meeting room bookings may not be made more than eight weeks in advance of the date of the meeting. Bookings for the three meeting rooms in the Central Library meeting room wing may not be made more than twenty-four months in advance of the event.  A late reservation may be accommodated when possible, but a completed and signed application form must be on file before the meeting can take place. 
  15. Meeting rooms are in heavy demand.  The signed application constitutes an agreement that a meeting will take place.  If a meeting must be canceled, the library expects to be notified within a reasonable time so that another meeting may be scheduled.  Cancellation of a booking for a meeting room in the Central Library meeting room wing may result in forfeiture of payment.
  16. Children’s groups may use the rooms provided one or more adult sponsors supervise the group and its activities.
  17. Kitchen facilities are available at some locations for preparing light refreshments in connection with meetings at the branches only. Each group is responsible for leaving the rooms in orderly condition, and for the replacement of any lost or damaged equipment.
  18. The library will not be responsible for or store any material for groups using the meeting rooms.  While bringing in easels is welcomed, materials are not to be attached to walls, windows, doors, or furnishing except at the direction of authorized library staff.
  19. No red, blue or orange colored beverages may be served in carpeted meeting rooms.  Smoking is not allowed.
  20. Normal operation of the library is not to be disrupted by users of the meeting rooms.
  21. Events held after the hours that the library is open to the public are only permitted at the Central Library and are required to use the services of the library’s designated caterer and to provide at least one off duty City of Des Moines police officer to handle security.
  22. Failure to comply with any of the stipulations can result in immediate or future denial or permission to use library meeting rooms.

Approved by the Library Board of Trustees 
January 17, 2006
Revised November 18, 2008
Revised November 17, 2009
Revised March 21, 2017

Download Policy PDF

4. Collection Development and Programming

  1. Mission Statement

To strengthen our community by connecting people with ideas and the tools they need to enrich their lives.


  1. Overview/Purpose

The collection is one of the library’s chief assets, supporting the organization’s mission, vision, and core values. The Collection Development Policy outlines the philosophies that create and shape the Des Moines Public Library’s unique collection, the practices that maintain it over time, and the guidelines that help the collection respond to community needs. Through our collections we work to facilitate equitable experiences for engagement, education, and inspiration.

The Des Moines Public Library believes that collections are part of the broader content of what a library provides to its community, which includes experiences, spaces, materials, and collaborations. We seek to respond to our community’s needs and interests through this content. The Collection Development Policy ensures that over time, the Des Moines Public Library’s collection will remain on course, reflecting the needs of the community, while providing an opportunity to explore cultures, traditions, and ideas not represented in the local community.

The Des Moines Public Library does not promote all of the ideas found in its collections but provides the spaces and opportunities for those ideas based on the principles from the Library Bill of Rights, and the American Library Association’s statements on Freedom to Read and Freedom to View (these statements are found at the end of this policy).


  1. Responsibility for Collection Development

Staff in a centralized work unit provide continuity for the development and management of the library’s collection. The collection development team: 

  • Monitors the budget
  • Compiles statistics to aid in purchasing
  • Provides usage reports to branch libraries
  • Selects physical and digital items for the collections
  • Responds to collection requests from library staff and patrons

Branch staff:

  • Collaborate with Collection Development librarians on requests or special projects
  • Communicate collection needs they discover during interactions with patrons and other staff
  • Evaluate the collection, removing items that are out-of-date or not circulating

Ultimate responsibility for collection development lies with the Director.


  1. Collection Scope

The library’s collection is designed to support the cultural, informational, educational, and recreational interests of the residents of Des Moines and Polk County. Materials are selected to meet patron needs and reflect a variety of viewpoints and opinions. To make items accessible to patrons, the collection contains a range of formats, languages, and levels of difficulty. It houses materials of contemporary and local significance. General criteria for consideration are listed below. An item need not meet all criteria in order to be acceptable.


  1. Criteria for Selection
  • Public demand, including submitted patron requests, interest or need
  • Enduring value, literary merit, or local interest
  • Prominence, accuracy and authoritativeness of author, creator, or publisher
  • Social significance or timeliness
  • Cost of the item
  • Usage statistics
  • Importance of subject matter to the existing collection or scarcity of information on the subject
  • Quality and suitability of format


  1. Formats

Librarians make decisions on purchasing print, audiovisual, or digital format based on popularity, common use, and availability. Librarians may cease buying an older format when it becomes cost-prohibitive to keep up with all of them or when a new format renders an old obsolete.


  1. Digital and Streaming Materials

The library also provides access to a variety of digital materials, which may include books, magazines, databases, and streaming video.

This access is primarily provided through third-party vendors and is subject to change based on licensing changes or business decisions made by those vendors outside the library’s control. Collection development librarians seek to respond to and anticipate these trends to provide the best possible access to our patrons.



  1. Memorial and Gifts
  • Memorials should be satisfactory to both the donor and the library. It is suggested that materials of continuing interest and usefulness be selected, as most donors would prefer making a gift with some degree of sustainability in the library.
  • If titles, topics, or locations are not named in the donation, these decisions will be made by the collection development librarians.
  • Checks for memorials should be made payable to the Des Moines Public Library Foundation. The library will assume responsibility for ordering memorial materials.
  • These gifts are deductible for income tax purposes. (See Appendix I)
  • Donated books and other materials may be added to the collection only if they meet the criteria for selection outlined in this policy. Gift items not used in the collection may be sold for the benefit of the library, donated to other nonprofit organization, or discarded based on condition.
  • Books advocating the principles and practices of a specific religious denomination are not purchased but may be accepted as gifts if they otherwise fit within library collection guidelines.
  • For more information regarding gifts, see the separate policy, Des Moines Public Library Gift Policy.


  1. Self-Published Materials

Self-published or print-on-demand titles may be added to the collection if the item is:

  • Fiction
  • Poetry, memoir, or cookbook
  • Iowa-related
  • Suggested by a patron

The self-publishing guidelines are available on the library’s website.


  1. Request for Reconsideration of Selections

A patron who objects to specific books or other library materials in the collection is requested to complete the form, Statement of Concern About Library Resources, available at information desks at all libraries. The attached Statement of Concern About Library Resources form describes the library’s review process.


  1. Collection Maintenance

The library’s collection is evaluated on a regular basis to ensure that it is timely and relevant to the community’s needs. Materials may be withdrawn for one or more of the following reasons as determined by the Collection Development Team:

  • No longer relevant to the needs and interests of the community
  • Out-of-date or no longer accurate
  • Insufficient use
  • Badly worn or damaged
  • Cost or availability of replacement
  • Space limitations
  • Sufficient copies in the collection

Locally significant materials may be retained even if some of these factors apply.

Withdrawn items may be recycled, discarded, or sold at public sale. Library staff will not contact patrons regarding items being withdrawn or hold withdrawn items for patrons.

Approved by the Des Moines Public Library Board of Trustees

September 14, 1999

Revised June 15, 2010

Revised September 18, 2012

Revised November 20, 2018

Revised February 15, 2022

Download Policy PDF

The purpose of library programs is to support our mission as the bridge to a world of information and ideas for personal enjoyment and community growth. 

Programs complement other library services by providing an opportunity to highlight collections, promote services and share knowledge and expertise.  Programs stimulate outreach and promotion of the library allowing the library to offer a wide variety of programs to groups and individuals and to attract both regular and new users of all ages and backgrounds.  Programs raise the library’s profile in the community and have a positive impact on library use.

Guidelines for the selection and presentation of programs:

All programs are intended to further the mission of the Library.  They should address one or more of the following educational, recreational and/or civic needs:

  • To increase awareness and the use of library resources
  • To provide opportunity to widen horizons, stimulate imagination and reflection, and enlarge experiences
  • To provide programs for various age groups, cultures, and interests 
  • To meet popular demand, both existing and anticipated
  • To promote reading and lifelong learning
  • To increase library use by under-served populations
  • To educate and inform on a variety of topics usually with a focus on one or several of the following areas:
    • Literature and cultural heritage 
    • Social awareness 
    • Health and well-being 
    • Information technology 
    • Literacy
    • Current events and high interest topics

Library programs are open to the public. Registration may be required for planning purposes or when space is limited. Programs may be targeted towards a particular audience, such as children, teen or adults and will be advertised as such.  Patrons with special accommodation requests are encouraged to reach out to library staff prior to the event so accommodations can be made ahead of time. 

Library staff may work with individuals or groups in the community to bring in presenters on a topic. Presenters and library staff will work together to develop, promote and deliver programs per the needs of both parties. The library is not obligated to represent multiple and/or opposing viewpoints within any one program or series. A program held at the library does not constitute an endorsement of the views expressed by participants and programs must be non-commercial. The sale of products at a library program is not allowed, however authors and artists may obtain library approval to sell their work following a library program in which the author participated with 10% of sales being retained by the library. 

The Library reserves the right to deny attendance to anyone becoming disruptive to audience members or the program facilitator, and to anyone in violation of the Library’s Customer Behavior Policy.

Program participants should expect that photographs/video will be taken at events and used on the Library’s social internet sites and/or website.

This policy has been developed in concert with the following American Library Association Guidance Documents:

Libraries: An American Value  

Interpretations of the Library Bill of Rights: “Library-initiated Programs as a Resource

Adopted by the Library Board of Trustees

Download Policy PDF

The Des Moines Public Library welcomes your donated books, audio books, DVDs, CDs, and magazines. These items will be sold in library Book Sales and all funds go back to the libraries to enhance programs and services. It is our practice not to add these donations to our collection.

If you would like a receipt for your donations, please ask a staff member. The library staff is not qualified to determine the value of your donation, but they can confirm the number and type of items you donated. It will be up to you to assign a value for tax purposes.

The Des Moines Public Library has established the following guidelines due to staffing time constraints and limited space:

Items the library accepts:

  • New and used books (in good condition)

  • Blu-rays and DVDs

  • Music CDs

  • Audio books on CD

  • Magazines (no older than 1 year)


Items the library does not accept:

  • Items that are not in good condition (Books that are yellowed, musty, moldy, smoky or damaged). 

  • Encyclopedias

  • Magazines older than 1 year

  • Textbooks 

  • Used workbooks or coloring books

We cannot accept clothing, housewares, furniture, or non-media items. 

Please contact the following businesses for these types of donations:

D.A.V. at 515-262-4740 

Goodwill at 515-265-5323

St. Vincent De Paul thrift store at 515-282-8327

Download the Policy PDF

Please see the block below for our Library of Things Donation Guidelines

The Des Moines Public Library welcomes information about works by local authors. A local author must live in the Greater Des Moines area.  

  • Submissions must fit the criteria described in the Collection Development Policy.  
  • The collection development team also considers: 
    • Interest and appeal to a broad audience 
    • Local connection in author or setting 
    • Availability from one of the library’s vendors (Baker & Taylor and Ingram) 
    • Positive professional reviews (such as Kirkus reviews, Booklist, or Library Journal. We do not consider Amazon reviews)   
  • If the library adds your book to the collection, you will see it in the catalog within 60 days.  
  • Due to staffing and volume of requests, librarians are not able to meet with authors on an individual basis or notify them of the decision.  
  • All material donations will become the property of the library and will not be returned to the donor, nor will any payment be made. 

Authors who would like their work considered for the collection may fill out the following form: Local and Self-Published Author Submission Form 

For any other inquiries or questions, please contact:  



Library of Things Donation Guidelines

Potential donations must be new or in like-new condition, with all parts and instructions present. Before bringing items to the library, email with the following information:

  1. What you would like to donate
  2. Whether it is new or like-new
  3. Whether you have all parts and instructions
  4. Whether the item is in the original box

Someone will get back to you within 5-10 business days to let you know whether we will be able to accept your donation.

All donations must be pre-approved before they can be brought to the Central Library. Pre-approved donations will only be accepted at the Central Library at this time and will not be accepted at any other branch. Donations that are not pre-approved will not be accepted.

If a pre-approved item is found to be in a condition other than new or like-new, or if it is found to be missing parts, it will not be added to the collection and cannot be returned to the donor.

5. Registration and Circulation Policy

I. Borrowing Privileges

The Des Moines Public Library issues free library cards to any resident of Iowa who meets the application requirements outlined below. Residents of a state other than Iowa are not eligible to receive a library card, other than Library retirees as stated below.

Library cards are honored at all six locations of the Des Moines Public Library (“Library”). Certain types of cards may have borrowing restrictions. The cardholder agrees to pay all fines and fees, abide by the policies of the Library, and promptly report loss or theft of the card, and any change of name or address.

A valid Des Moines Public Library card is necessary to check out materials and to use public computers, study rooms, and Tech Central stations. A library card is not transferable, but exceptions to this restriction approved by the Library Director or his/her designee may be noted in a patron’s record. The Library may refuse use of a card to anyone except the individual to whom the card is issued. The cardholder is responsible for all materials borrowed on their card. Parents/guardians are responsible for the items checked out on their minor’s card(s). A minor child is defined as a person under 18 years of age. Circulation allowances for each Patron type are listed under the Circulation Policy below.

Account Types

For the purposes of Library accounts, all Library staff and retirees are considered Resident Patrons regardless of home address.

Resident Patron Accounts

  • Residents of the corporate limits of Des Moines, the Library’s service area within unincorporated Polk County, or who live within the city limits of a surrounding community that contracts directly with the Library for additional services.
  • Resident Patrons have full access to all DMPL resources.
  • Accounts are renewed every three years.

Homebound Patron Accounts

  • Resident Patrons who cannot visit the Library due to long-term disability or illness.
  • Volunteers or staff will check out and deliver or mail items to homebound patrons.
  • Homebound Patrons have full access to all DMPL resources.
  • Accounts are renewed every three years.

Quick Card Patron Accounts

  • Residents of the corporate limits of Des Moines, the Library’s service area within unincorporated Polk County, or who live within the city limits of a surrounding community that contracts directly with the Library for additional services, who do not have photo ID and/or proof of address.
  • Quick Cards may be changed to another type when they provide photo ID and proof of address.
  • Quick Card Patrons have access to only five (5) physical materials checked out simultaneously.
  • Accounts are renewed every three years.

Open Access Patron Accounts

  • Residents of other communities participating in the State Library Open Access program that do not qualify as Resident Patrons.
  • Open Access Patron accounts have the same access to physical materials as Resident Patrons and limited access to digital resources and subscription services based on individual agreements with those providers.
  • Open Access Quick Cards may be issued to borrowers residing in Open Access communities.
  • Accounts are renewed every three years

Digital Patron Accounts

  • Residents of the corporate limits of Des Moines, the Library’s service area within unincorporated Polk County, or who live within the city limits of a surrounding community that contracts directly with the Library for additional services.
  • Digital Patrons have access to the digital catalog and online databases, only.
  • Digital Patron Accounts are issued to patrons applying online in lieu of other account types, and may be changed to Resident Patron or Open Access accounts upon showing photo ID and proof of address in person at a Library location.
  • Accounts expire after two months.

Educator Accounts

  • Educator accounts allow educators to check out books and audiobooks (of their choosing) for the students in their classes.
  • Educator accounts are designed for educators in public schools, private schools, preschools, homeschoolers, daycare centers, and home day care providers within the city limits of Des Moines, and unincorporated Polk County residents, as well as residents of surrounding communities that contract directly with the Library for additional services.

Deposit Collection Accounts

  • Deposit Collection accounts allow facilitators to check out books and audiobooks chosen by Library staff for the students in their classes.
  • Deposit Collection accounts are designed for educational or community organizations within the city limits of Des Moines, and unincorporated Polk County residents, as well as residents of surrounding communities that contract directly with the Library for additional services.

II. Application Requirements

  • For full borrowing privileges applicant must show a photo ID and proof of current address*.
  • Acceptable forms of ID and proof of address may be found on the library website
  • PINs (Personal Identification Numbers), selected by the patron, are required to access patron records via the online catalog and self-check terminals.
  • PINs are also required to use public computers, reserve a study room, and to access most of the commercial databases available online.
  • *Quick Card accounts will be issued to anyone meeting the residency requirements who does not have photo ID or proof of address.

III. Card Renewals, Changes of Address, Lost and Stolen Cards

  • Patrons are required to update and present proof of address information if it has changed.
  • Library cards expire after three years and will be purged from the database if not used for three years. Digital Cards expire after two months.
  • Stolen cards will be marked as “lost” and a replacement will be given free of charge.
  • Misplaced cards will be marked as “lost” and a replacement card will be issued for a $1.00 fee.
  • Identification is required for replacement for all non-Quick cards. Quick Card holders must verify their information.

Approved by the Des Moines Public Library Board of Trustees - January 2019
Revised - February 15, 2022
Revised – December 19, 2023

Download Policy (.pdf)

I. Loan Periods

Loan periods are determined by material type. Extended loan periods may be considered on a case-by -case basis by speaking with staff. Checkout limits may be found on the library website Book Returns are open twenty-four hours, seven days per week. Materials returned by 8:00 a.m. will be considered returned on the last day that the Library location to which the materials are returned was open.

II. Renewal of Materials

Most items will be automatically renewed, for three-week periods, up to a nine-week checkout limit, provided the item does not have a hold request. After the renewal limit is reached, materials must be returned so that other Library patrons may have the opportunity to find them on the shelf.

Library of Things, Hotspots, Laptops, and Interlibrary Loans are not subject to the same renewal rules. Interlibrary loan books may be renewed only if permission is granted from the lending library.

III. Limits on Items Charged to a Patron

  • Resident Patrons, Homebound, Open Access: 50 items total at one time
  • Quick Card patron: 5 items total at one time
  • All accounts are limited to 100 hold requests total

IV. Fines

  • Most Library items do not accrue late fines. Exceptions include Library of Things, Laptops, Interlibrary Loans, and Hotspots. A list of applicable fines may be found on the library website
  • Fines are charged for each day that any Library location is open, up to a maximum of $3.00.
  • Borrowers should always be notified at time of checkout of any fines, overdue items, or available holds on their record.
  • Fines may be paid in person at any Library location or online. The Library may pursue legal recourse in the event of large unpaid fines.

V. Lost or Damaged Materials

Lost Items

  • Items are considered lost according to the following schedule:
    • Library of Things, Laptops, Hotspots, and Interlibrary Loans – 6 days after due date
    • All other materials –14 days after due date
  • Borrowers will be charged the original purchase cost for lost items after the time period listed above.
  • Items returned within three months of the lost date will have the charge removed from their patron account.
  • The Library may pursue legal recourse in the event of large quantities and/or value of unreturned items.

Returned Lost Items

Items that have been lost and paid for will not receive a refund after three months from the lost date. Patrons should be advised of this when paying for an item.

Damaged Items

When an item has been damaged but is still in useable condition, the damage will be noted on the item. Fees may be assigned depending on the level of damage, up to list price for the item. Patrons may also be charged for individual lost pieces (cases, booklets, jackets, etc.).

VI. Notifications

Patrons who have shared their phone and/or email address will be sent courtesy notices for items coming due. Notices will be sent confirming whether an item was autorenewed or not on the due date.

Patrons with lost items will be sent a notice via post 14 days after the due date listing all lost items and cost of items.

Fees apply whether or not the notification is sent or received.

VI. Delinquent Borrowers

  • Borrowing privileges are blocked if fines exceed $25.00, or if the borrower exceeds the maximum number of items which may be borrowed at one time.
  • Parents or guardians of children under the age of eighteen are responsible for items checked out on their minor child’s accounts, including paying fines and fees incurred by the child.


  • The Library may receive notification when a bankruptcy including a claim regarding library fines has been discharged.
  • Upon receipt, a note is made in the patron account stating that a bankruptcy release of claim regarding library fines has been granted.
  • All fines, fees, or lost items discharged by said bankruptcy are forgiven from the record.

Please refer to the Des Moines Public Library Confidentiality of Library Records Policy Modified December 19, 2023.

Approved by the Des Moines Public Library Board of Trustees - January 2019
Revised - February 15, 2022
Revised – December 19, 2023

Download Policy (.pdf)