FORT WAYNE – The Allen County Public Library has new rules governing use of the Library Plaza and its Great Hall.
Library board members voted unanimously Thursday to adopt the new policies, which were a result of a settlement in a recent civil rights lawsuit.
In October, the ACLU of Indiana sued the library on behalf of David Kolhoff, who wanted to set up a display on the plaza to educate the public about the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, using a bicycle, a small cart with banners and a laptop computer.
The library’s policies at that time banned demonstrations and exhibits on the plaza; according to court documents, library officials said Kolhoff could conduct his activities in a library meeting room or produce a TV program and have it air on the library’s public-access television channel.
Under the settlement, Kolhoff was allowed to use the plaza as long as he stayed northeast of the doors and away from the café area on the south end of the plaza.
The policy adopted Thursday codifies that, creating a process for getting library approval to use the plaza and setting out the rules for doing so. It gives the library the right to prohibit any activity that is unlawful or disruptive to the normal use of the plaza, and parties using the plaza are responsible for any damages.
The policy for the Great Hall essentially prohibits all activities that are not library-sponsored, from petition drives to voter registration.
Library Director Jeff Krull said officials wanted to keep the plaza limited to library activities only, but had no choice under the settlement.
The Great Hall is basically off-limits to everything except library-sponsored activities, Krull said. This will eliminate any questions about what you can do down there.
Board member Alan McMahan praised the policies for establishing what the rules are.
It really clarifies what we permit, and what we cannot permit if we don’t want to, he said.