2658 East Main Road | Portsmouth, RI | 02871 | (401) 683-9457 | Hours

Library Policies

Who can get a card?
This Library is partially funded by local property taxes and state aid in the form of a grant. If you live in or own real estate in the Rhode Island, your taxes help support the library and a card will be issued at no charge. In order to borrow materials from the Library, users must register for a borrower card. Cards which are free of fines and have not been used for a period of two years will be purged from the database.
 Patron Types:
  • Adult:  Patrons aged 18 or older.
  • Juvenile:  Patrons under the age of 18. A parental signature is required to obtain a library card. 
  • Non-Residents:  Non-residents who work in RI or college students may obtain a library card but must present a photo ID printed with their permanent address.  Non-residents who work in RI must also show a current paystub of a RI employer.  These cards must be renewed annually. College students must show a college ID as well as one with their permanent address.  Portsmouth property owners who are non-residents must show a current tax bill.

How to Get Your Card

  • To obtain a card you will need to show a valid picture ID from a city, state, or government agency such as a driver’s license, military ID, or a passport.
  • If your picture ID does not have a current address, a second piece of identification establishing residency by showing your current address will also be needed. Acceptable documents include a current utility bill, voter’s registration card, vehicle insurance card, or even your checks if they include your current address.
  • Non-residents who own property in Portsmouth need to provide a current tax bill for that property. Non-residents who work in RI must show proof of employment in RI.

Lost Cards

Library users who have lost their card may apply for a new one by showing valid identification and paying a non-refundable $1.00 replacement charge; minors also must be accompanied by the parent or guardian listed as the responsible adult on the minor’s card record. If a parent or guardian wishes to cancel a minor’s card they must be listed as the responsible adult on the minor’s card record. If the first card is later found, it must be destroyed or returned to the Library for reactivation with valid identification. Patrons should report lost or stolen cards as soon as possible; Library users are responsible for all materials checked out on their card up to the time that they report the card as lost.
Loan Periods / Borrowing Limits
The checkout period for books, books on CD, and music CDs is three weeks. DVDs, Blu-rays, and periodicals may be checked out for one week.  Only books and books on CD may be renewed for one additional 3-week period unless another patron has placed a hold on that item. No other items may be renewed.
Placing Holds
You can request materials in person, by phone or via the internet. We will notify you by phone or email you when the item is available for pickup.
Renewing Your Borrowed Items
Items may be renewed in person, by phone, or via the internet. Items may be renewed one time unless another patron has placed a hold on that item.
Overdue Notices
In order to remind Library users that they have overdue items, three notices will be sent: (1) an overdue notice at 7 days; (2) a second overdue notice at 14 days past due; (3) and a billing notice at 30 days past due. Notices are sent via email or print depending upon your library card registration preferences.
Library Fines
        Overdue Materials: Fine rates are as follows:
  • DVD/Blu-ray                                 $1.00 per day/per item
  • Interlibrary Loan                           $0.10 per day/per item
  • All other items                              $0.10 per day/per item
       Maximum Fines: To encourage the return of long-overdue materials, there is a maximum per-item fine.
  • For each item                 $6.00 per item
      Payment of Fines: The Library will accept the following forms of payment for fines accrued:
  • Cash
  • Personal check made out to the Library on a check for the exact amount of the fines.
  • Money order or cashier’s check
  • Visa, MasterCard or Discover (online only)
  • Returned checks will be assessed a $25 fee.  Payments must be made by cash, money order or cashier’s check.

Borrower Blocks

Patrons will be blocked from borrowing materials if any of the following conditions exist:
1.       If their overdue fines are at least $5.00
2.       If they have more than five (5) active claims returned
3.       If the Library has reason to believe that the user has changed address; when this is the case, the library user may be asked to present current address verification before being permitted to check out materials.
4.       If there is reasonable doubt of the person’s identity or permission to use the card.

Item Replacement Policy
Portsmouth Free Public Library patrons are responsible for returning materials on time and in good condition.  Once an item has been declared "LOST", a patron is given a reasonable length of time to locate or pay for the lost material.  The patron must pay all fees associated with replacement of the lost materials or return the "lost" materials and pay any overdue charge.  If the material is not returned or paid for in 30 days, the patron may become ineligible to borrow or renew materials at all OSL libraries until such payment is made.
If materials are lost or damaged beyond repair, the following price guide should be used to determine the charges:
1.   Lost Library Materials 
For all library materials the price in the item record will be charged.  This information is available in the online record of the item.
For Portsmouth Free Public Library materials only, a new and unused exact duplicate of the item (i.e., the same ISBN) may be accepted in place of payment for the lost item.  
No refund is given if a patron finds the lost item for which they had paid.
2.  Damaged Library Materials
The damaged materials must be brought to the Library before an assessment can be made.  If the material is slightly damaged but useable, the patron will be warned and may be charged a small fee.  If the material is damaged beyond repair, the patron must pay according to the guidelines established for lost materials.
Internet/Computer Use Policy
The Library provides Internet access via the OSL consortium.  The consortium uses federally mandated filtering software that can only be unblocked for those over age 18.
Staff will assist computer users in best practices in Internet use when asked including:
a.  use of reliable web resources
b.  best practices for user safety
Unlawful activity by computer users will be reported to the appropriate authorities.  Patrons who see inappropriate behavior by computer users should report it to a staff member for further action. 
Rules Governing Use
Patrons cannot use the network to make unauthorized entry into other computational, informational or communication services or resources.  They may not:
1.  View pornography
2.  Visit gambling sites
3.  Distribute unsolicited advertising
4.  Invade the privacy of others
5.  Make any attempt to damage computer equipment or software
6.  Engage in any activity that is harassing or defamatory
7.  Use the Internet for any illegal activity, including violation of copyright or other rights of third parties, or in a manner inconsistent with the library's tax-exempt status or its proper operation
Violations may result in loss of access.  Unlawful activities will be dealt with in an appropriate manner.
Specific Regulations Regarding Patron Use of Computer Workstations
1.  Computers may be used by library patrons age 10 and over.  Children younger than 10 must be supervised by an adult. 
2.  A maximum of 2 users per workstation is allowed.
3.  Users should report any problems with the hardware or software to a Library staff member immediately.
4.  Users may continue to remain at workstation for 1 hour at a time but may remain on the computer until another user signs up.
5.  Workstations may be used on a drop-in basis. 
6.  Library staff will try to assist users if possible but their availability is limited.
7.  Users are responsible for bringing in their own storage media for saving their files or may purchase storage media at the Circulation Desk or Reference Desk.  In addition, headphones may be purchased at the Circulation Desk 
8.  Printing costs are payable at the Circulation Desk.
9.  Misuse or abuse of the computer workstation will result in suspension of the user's computer access privileges.
Public Users' Security
Users should be aware that the Internet is not a secure medium and that third parties may be able to obtain information regarding users' activities.  However, the Portsmouth Free Public Library will not release information on the use of specific Internet resources by members of the public except as required by law or necessary for the proper operation of the Library.
The Library reserves the right to take appropriate action to insure compliance with this policy.
Policy for Public Behavior
The Board of Trustees of the Portsmouth Free Public Library is responsible for determining the rules for public behavior in the Library.  In order to maintain an atmosphere appropriate for work, study and enjoyment for all Library users and staff, the following policy on behavior in the Library and on Library property has been established.  This policy will be courteously, but firmly, enforced by the Library staff.
Goals of this Policy
1.  To protect the rights of individuals to use Library materials and services;
2.  To protect the rights of Library employees and volunteers to conduct Library business without interference;
3.  To ensure the use of the buildings, materials, and services by the greatest number of individuals;
4.  To preserve those materials and facilities from harm;
5.  To ensure the safety of library patrons, employees, and volunteers.
Behavior Issues of All Patrons at the Library 
In the event of a behavior problem of a patron at the Library, staff members should follow a series of steps to identify, document, and resolve the issue.  A "behavior problem" at the Library is any one or more of the following:
1.  Any loud, rude, or vulgar talk 
2.  Any conversation that is disturbing to other Library patrons or employees 
3.  Any physical action of one person to another such as pushing, shoving or hitting 
4.  Any aggressive, threatening or harassing speech or action of one person to another 
5.  Any behavior that is or could be harmful to Library property.
If a staff member observes a behavior problem or receives a Library patron's complaint about such a problem, the staff member should speak to the library user causing the problem and politely ask that the unacceptable behavior cease or the offender will be asked to leave the library.  Very often this is enough to terminate the problem behavior.  The staff should keep a record of such incidents.
If the problem continues or escalates, the staff member should call the police to remove the troublesome patron.
Any staff member involved in such an incident should fill out an Incident/Complaint Report Form located on all Circulation Desk computer desktops.  Any library patron involved in the incident should be asked to fill out a form also if he/she is willing to do so.  The forms should be given to the Library Director as soon as possible.
If the disruptive behavior reoccurs, the Library will file a complaint with the Portsmouth Police Department and request a no trespass order from the department to prevent the patron from entering the Library property for one year.  The incident should be documented as above with Incident/Complaint Report Forms being filled out by all the parties involved.  If the incident involves disruptive behavior of a minor, the parents/guardians of the patron should be informed of this action in a letter from the Library Director.
Unattended Children
Parents may not leave children under the age of twelve years unattended in the Library and parents are responsible for their children's behavior while in the Library.  If a child is left unattended in the Library, the staff will attempt to locate his/her parents.  The Portsmouth Free Public Library assumes no responsibility for children left unattended at the Library after closing.  However, for the safety of the child, the staff will not leave a child under the age of twelve alone to wait for a ride.  If a parent or caregiver does not arrive within ten minutes of Library closing, at least two staff members will wait with the child and will attempt to telephone a parent or adult caregiver.  If the staff is unsuccessful, or if an adult does not arrive within 30 minutes of Library closing, the police will be summoned to assist the child.
A record will be maintained of all violations of this policy.