The City Library considers electronic technology to be a powerful tool and an effective means to extend open access to information and ideas for patrons. As a community institution of learning and knowledge, the Library is dedicated to the concept of intellectual freedom and the rights of freedom of speech and expression under the United States Constitution.
The Internet and other electronic resources offer access to a wide variety of resources from around the country and the world, much of which supports education, research, government, business, and community development. The City Library identifies and highlights Internet sites for patrons which support the mission and resource selection policies of the Library. However, the Library cannot control or fully monitor the vast content accessed through the Internet, much of which grows and changes rapidly.
Use of library equipment or network access for illegal purposes is expressly prohibited. Internet users shall not access material that is obscene, pornographic, or child pornography. Users are required to use the City Library’s computers in a manner that does not have a detrimental impact on the stability and functionality of the Library’s computer system and its ability to connect to and use other networks and resources.
The following activities are specifically prohibited:
Installing or connecting unauthorized technical devices, changing system or software configurations, installing any software of any type, disconnecting hardware, installing hardware, or changing hardware configurations.
Engaging in any activity intended to compromise system security, interfere with the proper operation of, or compromise the security of other computers or network systems, compromise the privacy of other users, or obstruct the work of others.
Using computer systems to send forged electronic mail, bulk mail, unsolicited voluminous or frequent electronic mail, illegally share copyrighted materials with others, or to fraudulently misrepresent the user’s identity in any communications.
A violation of the provisions of this policy may result in the withdrawal of access and may subject the user to disciplinary action consistent with library policies and procedures. All criminal activities will be referred to police, state, and/or federal agencies. Administrative procedures and guidelines for staff to follow in enforcing the policy and procedures for complaints are established and available at the City Library.
It is the intent of the City Library to provide computers in the children’s areas at each library location equipped with a technological device that protects against visual depictions that are pornographic or obscene as defined by state and federal statutes. This software will block many specific pornographic sites, but it may not block them all. The Library strongly encourages parents to supervise their children’s use of the Internet. Staff members will be readily available to provide additional assistance and support in monitoring children’s use of the Internet.
Access to Internet Features
The City Library provides options for adults to determine privately whether they choose filtered or unfiltered access for their Internet use. Every attempt will be made to offer as wide a range of Internet features as is legal, practical, and appropriate in a public library setting and which is affordable and compatible with the library computer network.
Access to Additional Computer Features
The Technology Center is designed to provide users with software options that are not available on other library computers and to offer users assistance in using those software options. To maximize these features and services, games and chat are not allowed in the Technology Center.
Equitable Use of Resources
In order to provide open, equitable access to the numerous patrons who desire access to resources on a finite number of library computers, users are limited to two turns or sessions per day. Patrons can decide the length of a session up to a maximum of one hour per session when reserving machines. The machines are configured to time out and restart from the beginning screen after an assigned period…
Equitable Use of Resources cont…
… when this time limit is reached, patrons will relinquish their computer to the next user. Reservations can be made using a regular library card or an Internet access only card that can be obtained by providing a photo ID that verifies the user’s name. Residency is not required for an Internet access only card. Use of multiple cards to access the Internet by a single user is prohibited. Patrons who use deceptive means to avoid turn and time limits may lose their Internet access privileges at the City Library.
Access for Minors
As with all library resources and collections, the City Library affirms that monitoring the use of the Internet and other electronic resources by any minor child is the sole right and responsibility of the parent or guardian. The Library strongly encourages parents to supervise their children’s Internet and other electronic resources use, and we suggest they read the publication Child Safety on the Information Highway which is available upon request from library public services desks.
Children’s On-line Privacy Protection Act
In support of the Children’s On-line Privacy Protection Act, library employees will not assist patrons under the age of 13, unless accompanied by a parent or guardian, to set up an account that involves two-way communication. Examples include, but are not limited to, chat rooms and electronic mail.
Access to Public Computer Printing
At this time, the City Library provides ten (10) pages of free printing per month from its computer terminals at no cost to its patrons and charges 10¢ per page for additional printing. It is the intent of the City Library to provide free printing from the Library’s purchased data bases.
Responsibility for Damages
The City Library assumes no responsibility for any damages, direct or indirect, arising from use of its World Wide Web server or from its connections to other Internet or electronic resources services.
Handling Problem Internet Patrons
If you need assistance in talking with a patron, please turn to your supervisor, a Library Security Officer, or a Librarian in Charge. The computer room staff has been very helpful, and they are certainly willing to help resolve any technical difficulties, but we would prefer that you turn to your managers or a Librarian in Charge to handle a policy violation, just as you would in other situations. If you believe you are being personally harassed, you should remove yourself from the situation immediately and call for support from your supervisor, a colleague, or the security officer.
Handling Problem Internet Patrons, cont.
We try to make the best decisions possible when addressing problem behaviors regarding patrons and the internet. Depending on the policies violated, patrons have been asked to leave for the day and sometimes are permanently restricted from future use. The Director and others have had interesting and lengthy discussions with a number of patrons who have disputed our actions, but in general, we have found the patrons, even the most challenging ones, to be cooperative when they learn that we are just doing our best to provide a great service to all, that we support intellectual freedom and the first amendment, that it is not a personal or moralistic call, and that we are doing our best to provide open access within the boundaries of our policies and the law.
Handling Problem Internet Patrons cont…
Don't forget to provide information that will help others follow through. If you have an encounter with a patron, complete an incident form and provide a good description of both the situation and the individual(s) involved. Sometimes patrons are using more than one facility, and we need to coordinate our response.
Helpful Phrases for Problem Internet Situations If you notice a patron viewing inappropriate material on the Internet, notify a librarian or your supervisor. However, all library employees have the right to address this problem and some phrases we have found useful are:
“The material you are viewing is not appropriate in a public setting and we ask that you refrain from viewing this site.”
Helpful Phrases for Problem Internet Situations cont…
"By my understanding of Salt Lake City ordinances, the material you are viewing could be considered in violation of local law and our Internet policy. If you continue to display it, I will call the (administration, security officer, and police) to discuss it further."
"You have been previously warned that your behavior is in conflict with library policy. If you continue to abuse your privileges in using the Internet resources, we will have to ask you to leave the Library."
(Then do it. We want to support you.)
Helpful Phrases for Problem Internet Situations cont…
"As I understand the law, the material you are viewing would not be deemed appropriate for a minor. Please move to another site or I will need to consult with my supervisor, and we may have to ask you not to use the equipment in the future."
"You are printing material that would likely be in violation of City ordinances, and you are displaying it where other patrons or children could view it. If you continue, you will be asked to leave the Library."
Handling Problem Internet Patrons cont…
Remember that we always start from the premise that each patron deserves to be treated with respect and consideration. It is not useful or appropriate to express personal reactions to any material that may be displayed. It's a lot like a reference transaction. Try to respect the privacy of the patron and conduct your conversation away from other patrons if possible. The more you remain calm, objective and nonjudgmental, the more likely the patron will respond in kind. That can be difficult under some circumstances, we know. But, we are not in the position to debate legal or moral issues. All we can do is express our understanding of the policies, express the ability to call on support as needed, and clearly follow through as soon as possible. That's the most important part.
“ If the 1st Amendment means anything, it means that a state has no business telling a man, sitting alone in his own house, what books he may read or what films he may watch.”
Internet Law and the Constitution
The Communications Decency Act was soundly struck down by the Supreme Court in July 1997. The Court recognizes the Internet as a unique medium which deserves the highest degree of First Amendment protection. While stating that current laws prohibit use of the Internet to traffic in obscenity and child pornography, the Court also ruled that content based regulations cannot be constitutionally applied to the Internet…
Internet Law and the Constitution cont…
…The court concluded that the "interest in encouraging freedom of expression in a democratic society outweighs any theoretical but unproven benefit of censorship." The Court also asserted that any content-based restrictions would restrict adults to viewing only material which is appropriate to children, a move that would be in violation of established constitutional precedent.
Internet Law and the Constitution cont…
That's where we find the debate over filtering. Both within and outside of the profession, there is continued discussion about the use of filters. We are following the research and development around filtering products, but issues of professional ethics, legality and effectiveness are involved. At present, we remain convinced that our current policies and open access are the best course. We are currently analyzing filtering products to ensure they would not clearly violate our principles and quite possibly the legal rights of our patrons. We have reported on our experience in Internet use to the Board, and they have upheld open access again in policy discussions in December 1999 and the summer of 2005.
Open Access For All
So how do we continue to deal with all of this? How can we provide the most open, constitutionally protected access to free speech while ensuring that our patrons are using the Internet access in accordance with our policies and the applicable laws?
Most importantly, we need to keep doing what we have been doing. Our staff has generally done a remarkable job of applying our policies and using good judgment to deal with folks who persist in crossing the boundaries. We all know how difficult it is to consistently monitor use of the Internet. We also know that it runs against our grain to judge anyone's reading or viewing preferences…
Open Access For All cont…
… But to protect the rights of those who want and need unrestricted access to enjoy the incredible wealth of entirely legal materials, we need to take immediate and appropriate action when faced with a patron whose behaviors, inquiries or printing practices are in clear violation of our policies and/or the law as we understand it. We have consulted with the City Attorney on our approach, and he believes we have developed appropriate policies and that we are applying them well. In many cases, public libraries are exempted from some of the legal provisions related to obscenity in light of our good faith effort to select material carefully and provide access to information for research and educational purposes.
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