Harold Washington Library Center
Below are the policies and procedures currently in effect for events held at the Harold Washington Library Center. Please contact the Corporate & Private Events Department with any questions.
Rental Policies and Procedures
All events held at the Chicago Public Library’s Harold Washington Library Center must be conducted in an orderly manner and in full compliance with applicable laws, regulations and Library rules.
Security Deposit: A security deposit as indicated in the contract is required upon confirmation of the rental booking and is payable by check only. The security deposit will be refunded in whole or in part sixty (60) days after the event, as outlined in the cancellation procedures provided all contractual obligations were met. The security deposit is non-refundable if the event is canceled or if the scheduled event date is changed.
Payment in Advance: Fifty percent (50%) of the rental payment is due six (6) months prior to the event date or the reservation will be forfeited. First Installment Payment is due on date indicated in the contract.
The balance of the rental payment is due ninety-(90) days prior to event date, or by the date indicated in the contract or the reservation will be forfeited.
Checks are made payable to “CHICAGO PUBLIC LIBRARY, CORPORATE & PRIVATE EVENTS”, and sent to the attention of the Event Coordinator. Payment for rental fees may be made by personal check, cashier’s check or money order and in person by credit card.
Cancellation: If cancellation of the event is confirmed six (6) months or less prior to event, or after the First Installment Payment is paid the amount paid is non-refundable. If cancellation of the event is confirmed ninety (90) days or less prior to event, or after the total rental fee is paid, the fee is non-refundable. Date of cancellation confirmation is when Corporate & Private Events receives written notification of the cancellation request. All cancellation requests must be submitted in writing. The security deposit is non-refundable if the event is canceled or the date changed.
Caterer’s Responsibilities: The caterer, procured by and acting as the agent for the Client shall be responsible for set-up and breakdown of all non-Library equipment on the date of event. The caterer is also responsible for (1) set-up and break-down of rental equipment and the kitchen prep area; the caterer is responsible for ensuring that wait staff does not rinse or wash plates, utensils and other equipment on the premises, (2) maintaining event space including but not limited to, quickly cleaning up any food or drink spills during event, (3) clearing away equipment after event and (4) cleaning all prep and kitchen areas. The responsibility for returning the kitchen to its original condition rests with the caterer.
The caterer is NOT allowed to start breaking down the room, removing linens or moving equipment until all guests have left the space. The caterer shall not leave equipment, linen or cleaning to a later date, nor shall any equipment, linens, flowers, food, or other items brought for the event be left for pick up on another day after the event and must be removed within 2 hours of end of event. The Client will be responsible for the caterer’s compliance and for returning all other spaces rented for the event to its original condition. The Library is not responsible or liable for any loss, damage or disposal of, but not limited to, any above mentioned items.
The caterer may, with prior permission, use its own additional kitchen equipment (i.e. warming ovens, electric ovens, sterno warmers), provided the Library’s facilities are compatible with said equipment and approved by event coordinator.
The use of propane, butane or any type of gas canisters, cooking stoves, and cooking of any kind on-site is NOT permitted.
The caterer must be onsite to accept any deliveries that the client has arranged, including but not limited to donated or privately purchased alcohol.
All bars must close thirty (30) minutes prior to the end of the event, or the security deposit may be forfeited. Cash bars, the sales of drink tickets, and self-service bars are strictly prohibited. Please initial:
Catering Licenses: The client is responsible for selection and use of a caterer from the Library’s Preferred Caterers list. The Library may allow a caterer that is not on the Library’s preferred list if all fees and Library conditions are met. The client is responsible for ensuring that all the Library’s requirements for Non-Preferred Caterers are met and all documentation is submitted, including but not limited to: the proposed caterer submits proof of catering license issued by the City of Chicago, license to do business in the City of Chicago, Liquor License issued by the City of Chicago or municipality in which caterer is licensed, Department of Health training certificates for safe food handling and BASSET Certificate for serving alcohol, General and Liquor Liability Insurance and any other information as required by the Library and/or the City of Chicago for catered events prior to Library approval. This information is required before the client signs a contract with or submits a deposit to caterer and prior to Library approval. Failure by the client/caterer to submit appropriate documentation may result in client’s deposit to the caterer being forfeited if caterer is not approved. The Library assumes no responsibility and/or liability for monies forfeited by the client resulting from failure to submit necessary documentation and to obtaining prior approval of the caterer from Corporate & Private Events.
If the client elects to use a non-preferred caterer that has been approved by the Library, the following is required:
(1) an additional refundable security deposit of $500 will be required from the client and/or caterer. The catering deposit will be refunded after the event and pursuant to all obligations being met. Deposit is due when caterer is approved. Please initial:
(2) a per event non-refundable Catering fee of $500 will be required from a non-preferred caterer to cater an event at the Library. Payment to the Library of the $500 fee will be due on the date the client’s First Installment payment is due. It is the client’s responsibility to inform the non-preferred caterer about the fee, when it is due and to insure that it is paid. Non-payment of the $500 fee will result in the Library voiding its approval of the non-preferred caterer and the caterer will not be allowed to cater the event at the Library. The Library assumes no responsibility and/or liability for monies forfeited by the client resulting from the voided approval. Please initial:
A caterer licensed by the City of Chicago must cater all events held at the Library. The Library does not allow catered events by restaurants, nor the donation of food for events, catering by outside service agencies, corporate in-house caterers and wait staff companies are not allowed to cater or staff events at the Library.
Insurance: Liability/Vendor event insurance coverage is required for all events and must be purchased through the Corporate & Private Events department (by separate check payable to Market Access) at the then prevailing rate. All responsibility for liability of attendees and the Client’s assigned agent and vendors at said event rests with the Client, and/or individual/s, signing the contract. The Library shall not be held responsible and non-compliance shall result in immediate cancellation of this contract and/or prohibiting vendor from entering the Library. In the event Liability/Vendor insurance payment has not been received 14 days prior to the event, the Library reserves the right to issue such insurance at the client’s expense at the then prevailing rate as charged to the Library by the insurance provider and deduct the amount due, in whole or in part, from the security deposit.
Certificates of Insurance must also be submitted to the Library by the client’s caterer, ALL vendor(s) and/or vendor’s agents, naming the City of Chicago, Chicago Public Library and U. S. Equities Asset Management, LLC as additionally insured. At a minimum, the Certificate of Insurance must include, but is not limited to, general liability (minimum coverage of $1,000,000); must have evidence of automobile liability (owned or hired) and workmen's compensation and liquor liability.
It is the client’s responsibility for obtaining all vendor insurance. All vendors must have their insurance on file with the Library 14 days prior to the event or the vendor will NOT be allowed onto the Library premises. If the client’s vendor does not have insurance, they will be added to the event insurance purchased by the client at the time the insurance is bound for an additional fee for each vendor. The client understands that it is responsible for the additional fee and that the limit coverage amount is SHARED by the client and all vendors listed on the policy. Please initial:
Liability: The client is liable for any damages to equipment and/or facilities of the Harold Washington Library Center due to negligence of the client, its agents and/or guests. The Library does not warrant the use or performance of any of its equipment.
Vendors: All Vendors that have been hired by the Client/Organization or Caterer, or anyone determined by the Library as requiring insurance, must submit a certificate of insurance as outlined in the Insurance section. If a vendor(s) does not provide insurance, the client will be required to purchase vendor insurance at an additional cost to the client for all vendors through the Library’s insurance provider, which must be bound at the same time as the event insurance. Please note that the insurance limits are shared by all parties listed on the policy.
Event Set-Up: The Library can provide a limited number of 60” round tables, chairs and staging. The caterer must provide all 6 and 8 foot rectangular tables needed for the event. The client or client’s representative/vendor is responsible for setup and breakdown of all rented equipment. Any and all equipment, food, flowers, etc. must be removed from the building immediately following the event. The Library is not responsible or liable for any equipment left at the facility, or its disposal, after the end of the event. The Library’s agents will setup and break down all library-owned equipment.
The client must inform the Library of a recommended room set-up at least two weeks prior to the event date to make sure that the City of Chicago’s building; fire and electrical codes are met. The Event Coordinator will determine the location of all equipment to meet required fire lanes/exit paths for the event and will revise the event setup, if necessary, to comply with these requirements with or without the client’s approval.
For events in the Winter Garden, the rental fee includes up to four (4) hours prior to the event for set up and up to two (2) hours after the event for breakdown, additional hours are available for an additional fee. Any event setup changes requested on the day of the event must be approved by Event Coordinator and will incur additional fees. All entertainment, DJ’s, music performed live or recorded, bands, recorded music or performances in the Winter Garden and South Hall prior to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday are not allowed.
Event Time Extension: If an extension of the contracted event time is required, it must be submitted in writing, arrangements must be made no less than two weeks prior to the event date, and the additional fee paid at that time. No extension of time is allowed or will be made the day of the event.
Deliveries: The event coordinator must be notified in writing, including date and time of deliveries, two weeks in advance of all deliveries to the Library, including but not limited to equipment, food, flowers, etc. for approval. Vendor information not provided will result in those vendors being denied building access. The caterer is responsible for providing all carts needed to move equipment to and from the event site. All deliveries must occur on the event date during scheduled event load-in/load-out times through the loading dock and freight areas. Extended time is available for an additional fee.
Decorations: Decorations, including but not limited to, balloons and stickers of any kind, bubble, fog and smoke machines, are not permitted in the Library. All decorations must be freestanding and nothing can be attached to any walls or doors and must be approved by an event coordinator.
Candles: Use of votives and/or enclosed candles is allowed but must be approved prior to your event by an event coordinator. The placement of candles on the floor is prohibited and all candle flames must be below the top of the container.
Storage: The Library does not provide storage facilities prior to or after any event. Any items left in the Library will be discarded.
Printed Material: The CPE office must approve invitations, printed material, and any information to be posted on the Internet related to an event prior to being printed or distributed by the client. Adequate time should be allowed for this approval process. CPE at its discretion may request that the client revise or reprint any material it did not approve at the client’s expense.
Lighting: Lighting variations inside the Winter Garden are limited. Please discuss lighting options with an event coordinator.
Staff: A Corporate & Private Event’s coordinator will work with the client, client’s agent or caterer to arrange the Library’s segment of the event and will be present during event. The Library does not provide a technician however; a technician may be available on an advisory basis only. The client is required to provide all necessary personnel as needed for its event.
Not for Profit: Any client seeking not-for-profit rates must qualify as a tax-exempt organization under Section 501 (c) (3) or other tax-exempt sections of the Internal Revenue Code and must submit a copy of current letter of exemption to the Corporate & Private Events (CPE) office.
Sale, marketing of goods, gaming: The sale or marketing of goods or services by private, corporate, or for profit entities is not permitted. The Library does not allow any variety of gambling, gaming, bingo, casinos or wagering of any kind as an element of an event.
Parking: The South Loop area has several parking garages conveniently located near the Library and some provide valet parking service. The client is responsible for making any valet parking arrangements and must notify CPE that such arrangements have been made two weeks prior to the event date. Valet is only allowed on Plymouth Court.
Coat Check: The Library does not provide coat check service, coat racks or hangers. A coatroom is available for Winter Garden events only and must be staffed at all times when used and the client is required to rent all necessary equipment needed for coat check. The coatroom is located on the ninth floor. Coat check vendor must be licensed, bonded and insured.
Entrance: The event entrance after Library hours is located on Plymouth Court, (on the west side of the building). The State Street entrance can be opened for an event at an additional charge and must be requested two weeks prior.
Security: The Library will provide uniformed security officers for all events. Coverage level is dependent upon the size of the event, location and hours. However, the Library reserves the right, at its discretion, to require additional security and/or off-duty Chicago Police at the client’s expense, and time permitting with the client’s prior approval.
Smoking: The Library strictly adheres to the City of Chicago’s Clean Air Ordinance and is a smoke-free facility. Smoking is prohibited in all Library areas, corridors, prep-kitchen, and bathrooms and within 15 feet of the entrance. The client is responsible for informing guests of the Library’s No Smoking policy. Failure of the client, their guests, or caterer to enforce the no-smoking policy will result in forfeiture of the client’s and/or caterer’s security deposit.
Wedding Ceremony: A small holding room is available for use. Rehearsal time is not included with the rental. The Library requires rental of either the Grand Lobby or the South Hall (for 200 or less) in conjunction with a ceremony/reception package. Please discuss your request with an event coordinator.
Entertainment, Music: All entertainment, including music, must end by midnight and is not allowed in the Winter Garden and South Hall prior to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The client is responsible for ensuring that the band or disc jockey is aware of the end time and the limited electrical power available in the space rented for the event. The band or disc jockey must provide any necessary extension cords and cables, and all extension cords and cables must be taped down with non-residue tape to the satisfaction of the Event Coordinator. The use of Duct tape is not permitted. The band or disc jockey must use the freight elevator to load in and load out its equipment. Guest elevators are not to be used to move equipment.
Bars: All bars must close thirty (30) minutes prior to the end of the event or the security deposit will be forfeited. Cash bars, the sales of drink tickets, and self-service bars are strictly prohibited.
Event Hours: All events must end by 12:00 a.m. with no exceptions. Auditorium events must end 30 minutes prior to end time listed or security deposit will be forfeited and an additional daily rental fee will be assessed. Please initial:
I hereby acknowledge that I have read and agree to follow the Policies and Procedures of the Chicago Public Library, Harold Washington Library Center for events held there.
Preferred Caterer’s Signature
Email Address and phone number
Client’s Agent/Representative (If Applicable)
Email Address and phone number