Boston Public Library
Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) Compliance

Policies & Procedures


The Boston Public Library provides resources in a wide variety of formats to meet the cultural, informational, recreational, and educational needs of the diverse, multicultural community it serves. The Internet is an integral part of the resources available to assist library users in finding the information they need.

The Boston Public Library complies with the federal Children’s Internet Protection Act by addressing the five key requirements:

  • Prohibits access by minors to inappropriate matter on the Internet and World Wide Web
  • Protects the safety and security of minors when using electronic mail, chat rooms, and other forms of direct electronic communications
  • Prohibits unauthorized access including “hacking” and other unlawful activities by minors online
  • Prohibits unauthorized disclosure, use, and dissemination of personal information regarding minors
  • Incorporates measures designed to restrict minors’ access to materials harmful to minors

The BPL currently restricts access by minors to inappropriate matter with the use of filtering software. All Children and Young Adult computers proxy to a server running this software and it cannot be bypassed.

Their safety and security when using electronic mail, chat rooms, and other forms of direct electronic communications and unauthorized access including “hacking” and other unlawful activities is addressed by insuring that minors in our libraries are never left alone at a computer. Children visiting our libraries are only allowed to use computers in this designated area and a Children’s librarian or other appropriate Library staff is always present in the room. Parents are also encouraged to supervise their children’s internet sessions.

Adults, defined by the law as over the age of 17, may choose to use unfiltered computers for Internet access. The Boston Public Library uses a computer control system. In order to use any library computer you must go to a sign-up/reservation station and enter your library card number and PIN. The information provided is validated against our patron database. If you are classified as a child you will always be filtered and assigned to a computer in the children’s area. If you are classified as an adult you will be assigned to a computer in the adult area. If you are an adult and your research requires that you be unfiltered, you will be assigned to a computer that has the option to bypass the filtering proxy.

Use of the Internet is also governed by the Appropriate Library Use Policy. The user may not use the Internet for any illegal activity or place any material on the Internet related to any illegal activity. It is the responsibility of the user to respect copyright laws and licensing agreements and assume responsibility for payment of fees for any fee-based service.

The Boston Public Library also has a Patron Privacy Policy which addresses the unauthorized disclosure, use and dissemination of personal information regarding both adult and child patrons.

The Boston Public Library is committed to user confidentiality. The confidentiality of library records is a core part of library ethics and the Boston Public Library follows the Code of Ethics of the American Library Association. Under the Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 78, Section 7 “That part of the records of a public library which reveals the identity and intellectual pursuits of a person using such library shall not be a public record…” Confidentiality extends to information sought or received, and materials consulted, borrowed, and include database search records, reference interviews, circulation records, interlibrary loan transactions, registration records, and all other personally identifiable uses of library materials, facilities, or services.

The Boston Public Library does not sell, lease, or otherwise distribute or disclose patron name, email address, postal address, telephone number, or other personal information to outside parties.

The Internet is a continually evolving resource and the information and links on the Internet change rapidly and unpredictably. The library cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of information on the Internet. Users should carefully evaluate the information they find when using this resource. The Boston Public Library does not encrypt data sent or received through our Internet services.

Companion Document to Internet Use Policy, Adopted by the Board of Trustees September 2007