West Texas Library Group

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Internet Safety Policy Template

_______________ Public Library

Internet Safety Policy

PURPOSE

The ____________ Public Library provides uncensored access to the Internet as one means of fulfilling its mission to "address the informational, educational, recreational, and cultural needs of all individuals…"  [Mission Statement approved by ______ Public Library on ________].  All Internet resources accessible through the Library are provided equally to all users, with the understanding that it is the individual user's responsibility to demonstrate judgement, respect for others, and appropriate conduct while using the public library's resources and facilities.

(Note: if the library restricts access to the internet based on user status as a cardholder, age or other reason, that should be addressed in the policy)

Internet computers will not be used by anyone, including minors, for illegal activity, to access illegal materials, or to access materials that by local community standards would be inappropriate.  Library employees are authorized to take prompt and appropriate actions to enforce the Rules of Conduct, and / or to prohibit use by individuals who fail to comply with the Internet Safety Policy as stated or implied herein.  Parents are responsible for their minor children's use of the Library's resources and facilities.  Parents who believe that their minor children cannot responsibly use the Library's internet access are requested to monitor their children's internet use.

If you use must install a filter, consider the following language:

The ______ Public Library has installed a filtering software product on all internet access computers.  The installation of such a product is the library's means to comply with specific federal legislation.  The ______ Public Library uses federal funds in a manner identified in Title XVII: The Children's Internet Protection Act requiring compliance with regulations specified in that legislation.  Compliance includes the installation and enforcement of a technology protection measure to prohibit access by ANY user to graphic depictions of illegal materials as defined by US Code Title 18.  The legislation also includes specific language prohibiting access by minors to materials considered "Harmful to minors".  The filtering software product, which is not under the control of the library, may restrict access to sites that could be deemed objectionable, but may also restrict access to sites that legitimate research value.  No filtering system is completely effective or efficient.  Users are warned that objectionable and / or illegal materials may still be accessible through filtering software.  Users are reminded that they are responsible for acting in accordance with "The Rules of Conduct".  Disabling the technology protection measure for adult users for the purpose of bona fide research is acceptable.  The determination of "Harmful to minors" and bona fide research is the responsibility of the Library Administration.

If you choose to install a filter, consider:

The ______ Public Library supports the right and responsibility of parents to direct the use of the internet by their own children, and provides filtered access on specific internet access computers. The filtering software product, which is not under the control of the library, may restrict access to sites that could be deemed objectionable, but may also restrict access to sites that legitimate research value.  No filtering system is completely effective or efficient.  Access via filtering software has been provided, but library staff will not require that children utilize filtered search engines for their research.  Adults doing bona fide research may request that filters be disabled.

DISCLAIMER

The ________ Public Library cannot control the content of resources available on the Internet and cannot be held responsible for its content.  Nor does the ___________ Public Library make any attempt to censor access to the Internet through the use of filtering software.  The Internet offers open access to information, ideas, and commentary from around the world in an unregulated medium.  As such, it offers access to a wealth of material that is personally, professionally, and culturally enriching to individuals of all ages, but also enables access to some materials that some may find offensive, disturbing and / or illegal, inaccurate or incomplete.  The availability of information does not constitute endorsement of the content by the _________ Public Library.  The Internet, as an information resource, enables the library to provide information beyond the confines of its own collection.  Library users use it at their own risk.  Use of Internet resources carries with it a responsibility to evaluate the quality of the information accessed.  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.  The public library, unlike schools, does not serve 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.  (See Guidance for Supervising Children's Use section in this document).

PRIVACY

The _______ Public Library seeks to protect the First Amendment rights of its users and their individual right to privacy.  However, Internet users must be sensitive to the fact that workstations in public areas and, therefore, images on the screen are subject to view by a wide audience.  In order to protect the privacy of the user and the interests of other library users, the library will manage access to the Internet by use of privacy screens, judicious placement of the terminals , and other appropriate means.  Users are urged to respect the sensibilities of others when accessing information that may reasonably be offensive to someone else.  However, absolute privacy for individuals using electronic resources in the library cannot be guaranteed.  There exists a possibility of inadvertent viewing by others, either by watching the user's screen, or because a user might leave the screen unattended.  The "Rules of Conduct" applies to the behavior of individuals using electronic equipment and resources.  Failure to follow this policy could result in the loss of computer privileges. 

Users are cautioned that the Internet is not a secure environment.  Personal information included in all transactions, files and communications may be subject to unauthorized access by third parties. 

The ____________ Public Library respects the confidentiality of those using its electronic resources and will release records only as required by law or for the library's operations. 

ACCEPTABLE USE

(Note: if the library restricts access to the internet based on user status as a cardholder, age or other reason, that should be addressed in the policy)

1.      Internet access computers may be used to access a variety of electronic communications resources including email and chat rooms.  Although the library does not provide email accounts to users, Internet access computers may be used to access free email accounts available from a variety of sources.  Users, including minors, are warned that other individuals may obtain unauthorized access to personal information and / or may misrepresent themselves.  Users, including minors, are advised not to share personal identification information to unknown or otherwise unverified sources via electronic communication.

2.      Internet access computers may (OR may not) be used to access games. 

3.      The library's internet access computers may not be used by ANY user to access inappropriate or illegal materials, including but not limited to materials of an obscene nature or child pornography.  In addition, minors are prohibited from accessing materials considered to be "Harmful to minors". 

4.      The library's internet access computers may be used to access information, except as otherwise specified as unacceptable, from a variety of sources such as educational or commercial.  The user is the selector of the material accessed and is therefore the responsible party.  The user is responsible for complying with all restrictions governing access to specific sites.  Any fees are the responsibility of the user, not the library.  In the case of minors, fees are the fiscal responsibility of the parent or guardian.  In no event shall the ________ Public Library have any liability for lost profits or for any direct or indirect special, punitive, or consequential damages, or any liability to a third party. 

RULES OF CONDUCT

1.      Internet computers will not be used for illegal activity, to access illegal materials, or to access materials that by local community standards would be objectionable.  Illegal materials include, but are not limited to, obscenity and child pornography as defined in US Code Title 18 and State Penal Code Chapters 42 and 43.  Access by minors to materials deemed "Harmful to minors" is prohibited.  Library Administration reserves the right to determine, based on community standards, materials considered to be "Harmful to minors". 

2.      Installation, downloading, or modification of software is prohibited.  OR Downloading information is acceptable only onto a floppy disk purchased at the library.

3.      Users will respect copyright laws and licensing agreements.  Materials obtained or copied on the Internet may be subject to laws that govern making reproductions of copyrighted works.  A work protected by copyright may not be copied without permission of the copyright owner unless the proposed used falls within the definition of "Fair Use".  Customers are responsible for compliance with all international, national and state laws governing copyrighted materials.

4.      Users will not make any attempt to misuse the computer.  Misuse includes, but is not limited to, using the computer for illegal activities, hacking into the library computer system or any other computer system, damaging or attempting to damage computer equipment or software, interfering with systems operations, integrity or security, gaining unauthorized access to another person's files, sending harassing messages to other computer users, altering or attempting to alter the library's computer settings, and violating copyright laws and software licensing agreements.  Misuse of the computer may result in the loss of computer privileges and possible prosecution.  Damages resulting from the misuse are the responsibility of the user or, in the case of minors, the parent or guardian. 

5.      Prompt payment is required by users who incur charges for printing or authorized fees.

6.      Users must sign up to use the Internet on a next-available-computer basis.  Computers will not be reserved for persons who are not in the immediate vicinity when their name is called and telephone reservations will not be taken.

7.      Access sessions will be limited to _____ minutes, unless otherwise authorized by the Librarian in Charge. 

8.      Users will end their session and leave the computer when asked to do so by authorized library staff, even if they have not completed their access session.

9.      Users will respect the privacy of other library users, and will refrain from attempting to view or read material being used by others.  Users are prohibited from the unauthorized disclosure, use, or dissemination of personal information of others.  Users are prohibited from misrepresenting themselves to others.  Users, including minors, are warned that other individuals may obtain unauthorized access to personal information and / or may misrepresent themselves.

10.  By mutual agreement, tow or more persons may share on access session as long as their behavior or conversation does not disturb other users or library staff.  OR The library limits access to one person per computer. 

TERMINATION OR PROHIBITION OF USER ACCESS

When library employees believe that the user has failed to comply with the Internet Safety Policy and / or the Rules of Conduct, they are authorized to terminate any user's access session or to prohibit a user from subsequent access sessions for up to ____ weeks from the date of informing the user of that action.  After a hearing before the Library's administrative authority, library user may be permanently barred from internet access in the library.  Users are advised that due process will be used to handle violations of an illegal nature, including criminal prosecution, if necessary.

Internet users whose access has been terminated or prohibited will be given information concerning the process to protest the action and / or request that internet access privileges be reinstated. 

For libraries with branches:

Temporary or permanent denial of internet privileges at _______ Public Library is effective at all ________ Public Library facilities.

DEFINITIONS - If  you have identified specific users in other policy, then provide reference:

            Library cardholder  Eligible resident of the state of Texas with an active _______ Public Library card

            Non- resident - individual not residing in the state of Texas and therefore unable to obtain a ______ Public Library card

            Adult - any individual who has reached the age of 17

            Minor - any individual who has not yet reached the age of 17

            Staff - any library employee designated by Library Administration to perform the daily functions involved in the operation of the library.

GUIDANCE FOR SUPERVISING CHILDREN'S USE

The public library, unlike schools, does not serve 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 the parent or guardian.

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 appropriate for them

            Encourage children to use sites recommended on the library's homepage and counsel them 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 care number) online. 

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