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Computer and Internet Use Policy

Purpose:

The North Scituate Public Library (the “Library”) recognizes that within the Scituate community there are groups and individuals with diverse interests, backgrounds and needs.  The Library further recognizes and emphasizes that the public library is an institution of a democratic society and was established to serve all of the people in a community.

Electronic information and networking is a rapidly developing area of public and private activity.  The Library recognizes that these developments pose new challenges as well as new opportunities for the Library Board, the Library staff, and Library users and their families.  The Library believes that these challenges and opportunities are best addressed by adherence to the fundamental principles of traditional library use and the principles of a free society.

Responsibilities of the Library:

Congress and the courts have recognized that there is no single organization to govern, control, or select information for the Internet.  Because of this freedom of information, the breadth of information on the Internet, the unstructured and unregulated nature of the Internet, and the unreliable state of filtering, the North Scituate Public Library cannot control the content of resources available on the Internet.

Access:

The Library does not select the material on the Internet, and has no means or statutory authority to assure that only constitutionally protected material is available on the Internet.

The Library adheres to the American Library Association’s stance regarding access to electronic information, services and networks: “Electronic information, services and networks provided directly or indirectly by the library should be equally, readily and equitably accessible to all library users . . . Some information accessed electronically may not meet a library’s selection or collection development policy.  It is, therefore, left to each user to determine what is appropriate.  Parents and legal guardians who are concerned about their children’s use of electronic resources should provide guidance to their own children . . . Libraries and librarians should provide access to information presenting all points of view.  The provision of access does not imply sponsorship or endorsement.” (Access to Electronic Information, Services and Networks: an Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights, 1996).

The Library’s Internet Use Agreement further provides that:

  • Users may not make any changes in the set-up or configuration of the Library’s computer system hardware or software.
  • Users may not modify or gain access to the Library’s computer system files, passwords or data.
  • Users may not seek unauthorized access to any computer system or network.
  • Users may not use personal software on the Library’s computers.
  • Most library computers are available to users in half-hour blocks of time, which allow unlimited half hour time renewals unless there is a waiting list for the computers.
  • Internet Express computers are limited to 10 minutes per person, and may not be reserved.
  • Computers designated as Library Catalogs are to be used for no other purpose, and may not be reserved.
  • Computers located in the reference area are to be used for office functions or research only.
  • No more than two people shall be allowed at any given computer at a time.
    • Users may print materials at a cost to the user to be posted in the library.
    • Users may download information off of the Internet or save work onto portable storage devices.
    • Misuse or abuse of computer or Internet access may result in the loss of a patron’s computer use privileges at the Library and/or the imposition of damage charges if applicable.
    • Library patrons owing $5.00 or more in fines and fees will not be allowed access to library computers.

Confidentiality:

The North Scituate Public Library upholds the right of confidentiality and privacy for all Library users.  In order to protect the privacy of the user and the interests of other library patrons, the Library will manage access to the Internet by judicious placement of the terminals, and other appropriate means as determined by the Library staff and Board of Trustees.

Users are urged to respect the sensibilities of others when accessing information that may reasonably be offensive to someone else.  However, absolute privacy for patrons using electronic resources in the Library cannot be guaranteed.  There exists a possibility of inadvertent viewing by other patrons, either by watching the user’s screen, or because a user may leave the screen unattended.

Responsibilities of Users:

The Internet is a global entity with a highly diverse user population and information content.  Although the Internet provides users with a wide array of excellent information, it also contains information that may be inaccurate, outdated, or personally offensive.  Library patrons use it at their own risk.  A good information consumer evaluates the validity of information found.  Use of Internet resources carries with it a responsibility to evaluate the quality of the information accessed.

The availability of information does not constitute endorsement of the content by the North Scituate Public Library.

Access, use, or dissemination of information via the Internet in the Library is the responsibility of the user.  In the case of minors, it is a joint responsibility of the user and the parent or guardian.

Supervising Children’s Use:

The public library, unlike schools, does not serve in loco parentis (in place of a parent). Librarians cannot act in the place of parents in providing constant care and supervision of children as they explore the Internet.  The responsibility for what minors read or view on the Internet rests with parents or guardians.

The following are recommended guidelines for parents and guardians to ensure that children have positive online experiences, whether at home or in the Library.

  • Use the Internet as a family.  Join your children in Internet exploration.
  • Explore the wide range of available information and tell your children about sites you consider inappropriate for them.
  • Counsel children to avoid sites you consider unsuitable.
  • Provide guidelines for your children on the amount of time they spend online, just as for television viewing.
  • Instruct children NEVER to give out personal information (name, address, password, telephone number, credit card number, etc.) online.

·         Teach children to be good online consumers.  As with print information, consider the source, date, and accuracy of online information.

As it does with other library resources, the Library will provide training on electronic resources.  It will also make information available to help parents and guardians in their efforts to exercise their rights and responsibilities regarding their own children’s use of electronic resources.

Approved by the North Scituate Public Library Board of Trustees 9/11/02, revised and approved 10/2003, revised and approved 5/2004 for implementation as of 7/1/2004, revised and approved 6/9/2009.