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Food, Drink, and Tobacco Policy

Please help preserve the University of Washington Libraries’ collections for future generations.

Policy on Food, Drink and Tobacco Products

It is the policy of the University Libraries to maintain an environment appropriate for the protection of library materials and conducive to study in all units of the Libraries system.

Snack foods and covered beverages are allowed in many, but not all, university libraries. All libraries prohibit the consumption of food while using university computers or other technology (such as scanners, plotters, plasma screens, etc.) and in the book stacks.  Libraries that do not allow the consumption of food and/or beverages post that information at library entrances and on library websites.  The Libraries reserves the right to ask any user to remove his/her food and/or beverage from the library if in the judgment of the staff it constitutes a violation of this policy. In addition, failure to comply with posted restrictions or staff instructions regarding the consumption of food and beverages constitutes a violation of the Libraries Code of Conduct.

Guidelines for the Consumption of Snack Foods and Covered Beverages in Libraries

In order to conserve library resources and provide a comfortable environment for all, we ask that you adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Snacks and covered beverages are permitted in most areas.  Meals or messy, noisy or strong-smelling foods are not permitted.
  • Only covered beverages are permitted in the book stacks and near university funded technology.
  • Meals are permitted in food services areas such as By George, and Suzzallo Espresso and Market.
  • Deliveries of food to Libraries are not permitted.  An exception is made for scheduled, catered events taking place in the Libraries.
  • Unattended food and/or beverages are subject to being disposed of by staff.
  • Clean up any spills right away—if additional assistance is needed, contact library staff at any desk.
  • Properly dispose of all food, trash, compostables, and recycling.

Libraries where consumption of snack foods and/or beverages is allowed

  • Art Library
  • Built Environments Library (covered beverages only)
  • Drama Library
  • East Asia Library (covered beverages only)
  • Engineering Library
  • Foster Business Library
  • Friday Harbor Library (covered beverages only)
  • Health Sciences Library
  • Mathematics Research Library (covered beverages only)
  • Music Library (covered beverages only)
  • Odegaard Undergraduate Library
  • Physics and Astronomy Reading Room
  • Suzzallo and Allen Libraries (see below for unit-level exceptions)
    • Government Publications, Maps, Microform-Newspapers (covered beverages only; some restrictions apply)
    • Research Commons (covered beverages only)

The consumption of any food or beverage is specifically prohibited in units whose materials are difficult to replace and are especially susceptible to damage from spills.  This designation is made at the sole discretion of the Libraries.

Units and Libraries where food and beverages are prohibited are

  • Special Collections (Allen South Basement)

The use of tobacco products and e-cigarettes is prohibited in all areas of the University Libraries.


  1. Eating in the library
    Responsible stewardship of the Libraries collections requires that we exercise care in allowing food in library buildings. Food is easily spilled on books, furniture, and equipment, causing damage. Particles of food left behind on books, furniture, or floors attract rodents, cockroaches, silverfish and other unwanted pests.
  2. Drinking in the library
    All beverages, including water, are easily spilled on books, furniture and floors. Damage to library materials results in replacement costs to the Libraries and makes the material unavailable to library users. Allowing covered beverage containers greatly minimizes the risk of damage and, at the same time, meets the needs of users who are frequently in the library for extended periods.
  3. Use of tobacco products
    Smoking is prohibited in all libraries (as it is in all University buildings) by state law.  This prohibition also extends to the use of electronic cigarettes in accordance with a  King County Board of Health Ordinance (UWS and UWB)  and Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department guidelines (UWT).

Policy last updated 04/18/2022