At the Jan. 3 county meeting, commissioners voted unanimously to approve a new set of guidelines for administration of the county library system that put control of the system firmly in the hands of the library director and commissioners.

At the county meeting on Tuesday Sept. 20, Carrabelle’s library was the subject of discussion after the resignation of Anne Birchwell, who served as county library director for three years.

County Coordinator Michael Morón asked commissioners for permission to form a committee with County Attorney Michael Shuler and Steve Meck, the county legal advisor on labor issues, to assess the system because he had received many calls about labor issues and other concerns in the library system.

The new set of protocols was the result of this partnership.

The new rules clarify that the county library system consists of one director, chosen by the county commissioners, who directs and controls all other library employees and volunteers.

In 2016, at the recommendation of the Library Advisory Board, the county commission selected Panama City's Lisa Lance, originally of Tennessee, to oversee the libraries in Carrabelle and Eastpoint.

Library Board Chair Kate Aguiar said Lance began work on Monday, and that she and her husband will reside in Carrabelle.

Much of the new policy applies to underage library visitors. Under the new rules, children 10 and younger must be accompanied by a parent or caregiver who has emergency information whenever visiting the library, unless the child is attending a scheduled library program.

During school hours, children 17 and younger must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian to discourage truancy. Children 10 to 17, enrolled in virtual school, home school or other authorized online school, may visit the library alone if they have a parental permission form. Library staff may call the parent to verify permission.

Under state law, a child believed to have run away from home, or believed to be absent from school without authorization, or who is suspended or expelled and is not in the presence of a parent during school hours, may be taken into custody by law enforcement.

Other policies, some of which restate previous rules and all of which supersede prior rules, prohibit loud or disruptive behavior; intoxication; harassment of library patrons or staff; fighting; use of bathrooms for bathing or other non-approved purposes; soliciting or vending on library property; destruction or theft of property; sleeping; and campaigning and petitioning on library grounds.

Staff will notify patrons if they are in violation of the library rules and may call law enforcement if needed.

Library staff will create a security report for review by the director after any incident of violation, which will then be forwarded to the county coordinator.

Persons given a “Trespass after Warning” by law enforcement will be photographed for a file maintained at the main library. Patrons may also be suspended from library service either temporarily or permanently for repeatedly violating library rules.