Is it advisable for a library board to permit alcoholic beverages to be served at events taking place on library premises?
The following should not be construed as legal advice, for which the services of counsel should be obtained.
While there may not be any statutory prohibition which would preclude a library, whether association or public, from serving alcoholic beverages at a library event or at an event in the library by an organization granted use of the premises for a meeting or event, prudence would dictate that a library board would want to protect itself against any liability which might result from some participant who over imbibed, whether at a library sponsored event, or an event sponsored by an organization granted the use of the library’s facilities for meetings or events. If soon after an attendee at an event in the library where alcoholic beverages were served became involved in an auto accident in which he/she was the driver, the library could become a party to any legal action resulting therefrom.
Therefore, the library board should ascertain from its insurance broker whether a special or excess line coverage would be available. This is called Dram Shop coverage, and possibly the terms of coverage might be only for the specific date or time when alcoholic beverages would be served, and coverage might be limited only to library sponsored events.
If the event at which alcohol will be served is one not sponsored by the library, but by an outside organization, the board should decide whether the organization should be required to provide proof that it will have arranged for such coverage, said proof to be supplied with the application to use the library’s facilities.
However, regardless of whether Dram Shop coverage can be obtained, for the reason previously stated, it would be in the best interest of any library to prohibit the serving of alcoholic beverages at any event taking place in the library, whether library-sponsored or not.
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