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Library Board Policy 170: Computer and Internet Access and Use
I. Purpose

The Monterey Public Library provides public access to computers and the Internet based on its mission "to link the community with the knowledge and cultures of the world." The Web is a powerful reference tool offering educational and other valuable information for all ages. Computers and basic office software are a part of how many Library customers and community members access, use, and share information every day.  Access to computers and the Internet have become essential Library services. The Library upholds the principles of intellectual freedom and the public's right to know by providing people of all ages with access and guidance to information and collections which reflect all points of view. Monterey Public Library reaffirms its support for the American Library Association's Intellectual Freedom statements, including The Library Bill of Rights, The Freedom To Read Statement, Free Access to Libraries for Minors, and Access to Electronic Information, Services and Networks: an Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights.

II. Internet Access and User Responsibility

A. Choosing and Evaluating Internet Resources

The Internet offers a wide variety of valuable resources. As an unregulated worldwide network of computers and computer users, it also includes material which is inaccurate or controversial, as well as material which may be offensive or harmful to some users. The Monterey Public Library does not and cannot monitor or control information found on the Internet and is not responsible for its content. Library access to the Internet does not imply Library sponsorship or endorsement of any material found on the Internet. Displaying illegal material on Library workstations is prohibited.

The Library provides links and pointers to useful and interesting sites, but the Library does not edit or restrict Internet content. Access to information is a fundamental right of citizenship in a democratic society. The Library upholds everyone's intellectual freedom and applies no restriction on the right to read, listen or view. Only users and families have the right and responsibility to define what material or information is consistent with their personal and family beliefs.

The Library makes every reasonable effort on an ongoing basis to inform all customers and community members about the Library's Internet service and policy.

B. Children and Families

The Library provides Web pages, links, databases, and other online resources to guide young users to useful, interesting, educational, appropriate, and fun sites selected by Library staff. Whenever possible, Library staff members assist young customers in locating and choosing appropriate and useful Internet resources, and guide young customers away from inappropriate sites.

Library policy gives parents or guardians the right and responsibility to restrict their children's and only their own children's use of Library resources, including computers and the Internet. The Library respects the right of parents to determine what it is appropriate for their children to read, hear, and view, but the Library cannot enforce these rules, which may be different for each family in our community. Parents are encouraged to supervise and to participate actively in their children's computer and Internet use. The Library does not act in loco parentis: It does not have the same role in supervising children that schools have, and it cannot substitute its judgment for that of parents or enforce parents' decisions about their children's Internet use.

Policy 175: Loan of Laptop Computers requires a parent or guardian’s signature for customers under 18 to check out and assume responsibility for Library laptop computers.

To assist families, the Library makes every reasonable effort on an ongoing basis to inform all parents in the community about the Library's Internet service and policy.

C. Library Guidance and User Choice

Monterey Public Library is committed to assisting users of all ages in locating the information they need on the Internet, and to providing choices for users concerned about the content of material on the Internet.

Individuals in our community have a wide variety of beliefs about what kind of material and information is appropriate for themselves and their families. Any restriction on access to Internet resources would exclude material valuable to many users and fail to exclude material some users may find offensive. Library web pages provide user choices, including options for users concerned about the content of material they may find on the Internet. Users have easy access to directories of selected Internet resources, including directories designed for children and youth, and to Internet search engines which exclude material that may be offensive. These options are provided without preventing access to other Internet sites and services.

D. Privacy and Security

Library policies protect customer privacy in the use of library materials and reference service. However, the Library is a public place, and the Library cannot provide private computer workstations or seating areas. At the same time, passersby should respect the privacy of computer users, and computer users should not attempt to show displayed material to passersby.

Library staff must take appropriate actions to resolve problems which arise during use of the Library's computer and Internet services and to enforce Library policies and rules. To this end, Library staff members may need to observe computer use, question users, and restrict conduct by users which violates this policy.

The Library's wireless Internet service is not encrypted. Users should be aware that any information sent or received could potentially be intercepted by another wireless user. Web-based security controls such as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) are not sufficient to protect against certain types of attacks; therefore, users should avoid entering sensitive information such as credit card numbers, passwords or any other personally identifying information on any wireless network.

Users should also be aware that another wireless user may be able to view or change files on any wireless user's computer. The Library recommends that users install and use virus protection software, firewall software, and security patches or upgrades to identify and eliminate viruses in any data, files, or programs they obtain from external computers or networks, and to protect their computers from intrusion.

E. User responsibility

The Library makes no representation or guarantee that any part of the computer and Internet services, including the wireless service, will be uninterrupted, error-free, virus-free, timely, or secure, nor that any Internet content is accurate, reliable or safe in any manner for download or any other purpose.

Use of the Library’s hardware, software, Internet service, wireless network, and electronic information resources is entirely at the risk of the user. Monterey Public Library and the City of Monterey shall not be liable for any damage that may occur to any computer, peripheral equipment, or storage media, loss of data, loss of confidential information, unauthorized access to or alteration of data transmissions, and/or any other direct, indirect, special, incidental, consequential or exemplary damages resulting from or arising out of use of the Library’s Internet service, wireless network, and/or electronic information resources, or inability to use these services, or any other matter relating to these services.

Users agree to indemnify and hold Monterey Public Library and the City of Monterey harmless for any claim or demand, that may be made by any third party due to or arising out of user conduct in connection with any use of the Library’s Internet service, wireless network, and electronic information resources, user provision of content, user violation of this Policy, or any other violation of the rights of another person or party.

F. Staff Assistance

Staff members will attempt to identify and resolve problems with Library hardware, software, and Internet access. In many cases, however, assistance from City information technology or vendor staff is needed before service can be restored.

Staff members are trained to assist customers in using the Library catalog and Web site as well as databases and other Web services selected and purchased by the Library. In some cases, vendor assistance is needed to resolve problems with or to answer specialized questions about these services.

Staff members assist customers with all computer, Internet, and other technology questions based on Policy 110: Reference Service, providing answers, print or Web resources, and/or referrals for further information, assistance, and training. Staff cannot provide extended individual training or technical support.

G. Computer and Internet Activities Supported

Internet workstations and Library laptops provide Web browsers, plug-ins for popular Web media formats, and basic office software. Because of technical limitations and Library priorities, the Library does not provide local electronic mail accounts or instant messaging software.  Workstations and laptops with word processing software provide USB port and/or disc access to permit users to save personal files.

Library cardholders may borrow laptop computers for use in the Library following the requirements in Policy 175: Loan of Laptop Computers.

Library computer workstations and laptops are occasionally taken out of service or reserved for maintenance, upgrades, or Library programs and events.

The Library provides wireless Internet access for the convenience of customers using their own computers or other devices and Library laptop computers. Specific Internet ports and protocols may be disabled on the wireless network in order to limit bandwidth, prevent abuse, and/or protect Library and City network resources.

III. Appropriate Use of the Internet

In order to allow as many customers as possible to use Library computers in a limited space, in compliance with Library policies, and in keeping with the Library's mission, the following guidelines have been established for appropriate use of Monterey Public Library computer and Internet services.

A. Time limits on computer workstations and bandwidth limits on wireless access may be enforced to ensure that all customers have the opportunity to use computer and Internet resources.

B. Any activity which violates Federal, California, or local laws is prohibited on both Library and customer computers. Examples of illegal activities include but are not limited to fraud, which includes disguising or falsifying sources of electronic mail and other electronic communications with the intent of misleading, defrauding or harassing others, displaying or distributing child pornography or other obscene materials, libeling and slandering other persons, and sending “spam” e-mail including identical or nearly identical messages sent to a large number of recipients who have not granted deliberate and explicit permission for the message(s) to be sent.

C. Library computers and the Internet must be used in a responsible manner, consistent with appropriate behavior in the Library (see Policy No. 515, Disruptive Behavior in the Library). All users must be quiet, courteous toward others, and respectful of Library equipment.

D. Users may not modify Library hardware or software, change configurations, or attempt to access non-public files or accounts using Library workstations or the wireless network. Users may not attempt to intercept, monitor, disrupt, or impede other users' communications on the wireless network or to access or alter other users' data or software.

E. Users may not use personal software, download software, or bookmark sites on Library workstations. Users are encouraged to suggest software for Library computers and links for Library Web pages to Library staff.

F. Users may not violate software license agreements or infringe on copyrighted material. United States Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S. Code) prohibits the unauthorized reproduction or distribution of copyrighted materials, except as permitted by the principle of "fair use". This includes most electronic information sources. Users may not copy or distribute many electronic materials without the explicit permission of the copyright holder. Users are responsible for any consequences of copyright infringement.

G. The City of Monterey and the Monterey Public Library are committed to providing an environment free from sexual harassment. Internet users are asked to help by refraining from displaying material on Library or customer computers which may be interpreted as part of an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. Internet users should not attempt to show displayed material to passersby.

Failure to follow these guidelines or other rules for Internet use may result in suspension of Internet privileges. Continued violation may result in suspension of library privileges, as provided by Policy No. 515, Disruptive Behavior in the Library.

Approved: July 22, 1998
Revised: May 24, 2000
Revised: October 26, 2005
Revised: December 3, 2009
Revised: May 26, 2010