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Public Use of Internet and Computers

1. Policy Statement

The Worcester Public Library provides public access to Internet and computers in support of its mission to provide free information and services that promote lifelong learning and personal enrichment. In all its operations, the library strives to eliminate barriers to the pursuit of ideas.

Consistent with the Library’s mission, the Library affirms the principles and rights delineated in the American Library Association’s Library Bill of RightsFree Access to Libraries for Minors; and Access to Electronic Information, Services and Networks: an interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights, of which the following are of particular importance:

  • Every individual is entitled to access constitutionally protected material on the Internet unless determined otherwise by a court with appropriate jurisdiction. These rights extend to minors as well as adults.
  • Users have both the right of confidentiality and the right of privacy, in accordance with the Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 180, Acts of 1988.
  • Electronic information, services, and networks provided directly or indirectly by the Library should be equitably accessible to all library users.
  • Parents and legal guardians have the right and responsibility to provide guidance to their own children.
  • Libraries and librarians should not deny or limit access to electronic information because of its allegedly controversial content or because of personal beliefs or fear of confrontation.
  • Providing connections to global information, services, and networks is not the same as selecting and purchasing materials for a library collection.
  • The provision of access does not imply sponsorship or endorsement.

In accordance with the ALA Council document CD#19.3 “Resolution on the Retention of Library Usage Records” and the Library Privacy Policy, limited library usage records will be retained only for the time needed to assure efficient operation of the library. In accordance with its Privacy Policy, the Library will release records, including those relating to the Internet, only as required by law.

When accessing the Internet, library users must comply with all applicable federal, state and local laws, including laws governing copyright and the transmission and dissemination of information.

Violation of this Policy and its rules and guidelines may result in loss of computer access, forfeiture of the user’s computer time and/or library privileges as prescribed in the Rules Governing the Use of the Worcester Public Library.

2. Role Of The Library:

  • Provides computers with network connections and a wireless network for Internet access for users with their own equipment;
  • Uses access and printing management systems on its public Internet computers to establish queuing, manage time limits and assess printing charges;
  • Requires users to use their own C/W MARS central Massachusetts library cards to log-on to a library Internet computer;
  • Offers temporary visitor passes to out-of-state users for Internet access;
  • Offers short-term Express passes for limited access to the Internet to users without a library card;
  • Provides privacy screens to all public Internet computers except in the Children’s Room and the Young Adult section;
  • Does not restrict, filter, or edit Internet content;
  • Does not keep a permanent record of the Internet sites visited or searches performed by individuals;
  • Does not retain any personal information from persons using library computers;
  • Assumes no responsibility for any damages, direct or indirect, arising from its connections to the Internet or for the loss of personal electronic documents, files, or file storage devices while using the Library’s computers and Internet access networks.

3. Rule

Public use computers featuring Internet access, Microsoft Office software, education games, and reference resources are available during regular library hours. Only computer equipment and software owned and previously installed by the Library may be used on WPL computers. The library does not provide chat software, newsgroup services or e-mail accounts. A time management system, manual or automated, is only applied to the Internet workstations at the Main Library. Printing services are offered at all library facilities. There is a charge for printing except in the Main Library’s Children’s Room and the Great Brook Valley Branch Library.

  • A user must register using his/her library card or visitor card for a session on an assigned Internet computer. Adjustments in the time of each session may be made depending on availability of computers.
  • Printing services are offered across all library facilities. There is a charge for printing except in the Main Library’s Children’s Room and the Great Brook Valley Branch Library.
  • Children through age 11 have access to Internet computers in the Children's Room. Teens and adults have access to these computers only when assisting a child
  • Teens aged 12 to 17 have access to Internet computers in the Young Adult section.
  • Adults 18 and older have access to Internet computers in all areas of the library except the Children's Room and the Young Adult section of the Main Library unless assisting a child.
  • Because of the limited number of computers at branch libraries, Internet computers may be used by people of any age.
  • A parent or guardian must accompany any child of age 7 or under who wishes to use an Internet computer.
  • Staff reserves the right to determine what is acceptable to view in a public setting, in compliance with all applicable laws and library procedures.

4. User Responsibilities

It is the users’ responsibility to evaluate the validity of information accessed via the Internet. Users are cautioned that ideas, points of view and images can be found on the Internet that are controversial or that diverge from mainstream views. All Internet users are expected to use this Library resource in a responsible and courteous manner and to abide by the following regulations for the use of Internet resources in the Library:

  • Users must adhere to posted time limits and sign-in procedures.
  • Users must comply with intellectual property rights by making only authorized copies of copyrighted, licensed or otherwise-controlled software or data transmitted via the Internet.
  • Users must respect the privacy and computer use of others. No more than two people may use a workstation at the same time.
  • Users must refrain from modifying or gaining access to files, passwords, or data belonging to others; and from "hacking" into any computer system.
  • Users may not use library cards belonging to others to log on to, or to reserve Internet computer.
  • Users should refrain from accessing visuals that might be disruptive to others
  • Library does not provide speakers. Users are encouraged to bring their own headphones to access sound.
  • Users may not unplug, remove, modify, or otherwise damage library computers and equipment.
  • Users may not alter or damage software, software settings, or data stored on computers.
  • Users may not install or run personal software, or set any bookmarks, links, or shortcuts.
  • Users may not harass staff or other patrons, or engage in deliberately or maliciously offensive or defamatory activity.
  • Users may not transmit threatening, harassing, defamatory, flaming or other abusive language or images.
  • Users may not misrepresent themselves for purposes of fraud.
  • Library computers must not be used to transmit spam, to propagate destructive processes such as computer viruses or worms, to degrade system performance, or to engage in any illegal activity over the Internet, including accessing illegal images and materials published or housed on the Internet.
  • Wireless users have the responsibility to provide anti-virus protection on their personal equipment. Wireless users assume all risks in this regard.

Violation of the Internet user guidelines may result in the suspension of Internet and/or library privileges. ILLEGAL ACTS, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, ACCESSING ILLEGAL CONTENT (CHILD PORNOGRAPHY) ON THE INTERNET, MAY BE SUBJECT TO PROSECUTION BY LOCAL, STATE, OR FEDERAL OFFICIALS The Library reserves the right to inform law enforcement about illegal activities taking place in the Library.

5. Guidelines for Parents and Minors

As with all Library services, parents or guardians have the right and responsibility to determine and monitor their children’s access to library materials and resources, including those available through the Internet. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to learn about the Internet and help their children use it wisely.The Library has taken certain measures to assist in the safe and effective use of these resources by all minors (youths 17 and under). The Library directs minors away from inappropriate material on the Internet, including material that is harmful to minors by:

  • Developing and maintaining age-appropriate web sites for children and teens.
  • Developing and providing training programs and printed materials on safe and effective Internet use.
  • Encouraging minors to follow safety and security guidelines when using electronic mail, chat rooms and other forms of direct electronic communications.

For additional tips and suggestions please see the American Library Association's Especially for Young People and Their Parents. The following recommendations are intended to assist parents and guardians in guiding children in their use of the Internet:

  • Visit the Library with your child.
  • Spend time online visiting sites with your child. Discuss topics that may be off limits when they are on the Internet.
  • Explain the importance of never giving identifying information such as home address, telephone numbers, passwords or school names over the Internet.
  • Caution never to arrange to meet in person with people they have become acquainted with using electronic mail, chat rooms and other forms of direct electronic communications.
  • Ask the library staff for help in finding information on the Internet and for a listing of websites designed to promote Internet safety awareness for children.

Formerly Worcester Public Library Internet Policy and Worcester Public Library Internet Safety Policy and Procedures approved by the Board of Directors 14 May, 2002 and June 11, 2002

Approved by the Board of Directors 8 May 2007

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