Internet Policy

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 Internet is a global electronic network. The Boston Public Library does not monitor Internet use, has no control over the information accessed through the Internet, and cannot be held responsible for its content. The Internet may contain material of a controversial nature. The Boston Public Library complies with the federal Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) which requires the use of filtering software for adults, teens, and children. Adults, defined by the law as over the age of 17, may when available choose to use unfiltered computers for Internet access. Filtering software may not block all material users might find offensive. Parents are encouraged to supervise their children’s Internet sessions.

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 BPL does not encrypt data sent or received through our Internet services.


To achieve an atmosphere conducive to the best use of its resources, the library has developed the following rules regarding the use of public computers

• Use of the Internet is governed by the Library’s Patron Behavior Policy. The user may not use the Internet for any illegal activity or place any material on the Internet related to any illegal activity.

• Users may not invade the privacy of others or engage in any activity that is harassing, defamatory, or threatening; or receive or display graphics which may reasonably be construed as obscene as defined by law.

• 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.

• By using a public Internet workstation at the Boston Public Library you agree to the following guidelines:

Signing up for computer use:

  • In our branch locations and many Central Library departments you must sign up with the Pharos Computer Reservation system before using an Internet computer; a valid library card and PIN number is necessary for computer use.
  • If you are doing subject specific research in some Central Library research departments you must sign in with Library staff before using an Internet computer; a valid library card and PIN number is necessary for computer use.

Time limits:

  • There are time limits on computer use per day; the limit may vary according to location, and level of demand.


  • You may download to a pre-formatted disk, writable CD/DVD, or storage device.
  • You must provide your own storage device.
  • The library is not responsible for any loss or damage to personal disks or storage devices when downloading.


  • The library does not offer electronic mail accounts.
  • You may download your e-mail if you know the Internet address of your private account, or if you are using a web-based email account such as Yahoo or Google mail.

You may not:

  • Use the library's workstations as a staging ground to gain unauthorized access to the library's networks or computer systems or to any other network or computer system.
  • Obstruct the work of others by consuming gratuitously large amounts of system resources or by deliberately crashing any library computer system.
  • Display images, sounds, or messages in a way that will negatively affect those who find them objectionable or offensive.
  • Make any attempt to damage computer equipment or software.
  • Make any attempt to alter software configurations in a malicious manner.
  • Make any attempt to cause degradation of system performance.
  • Use any library workstation for illegal or criminal purpose.
  • Engage in any activity which is deliberately and maliciously offensive, libelous or slanderous.
  • Represent yourself as another person for purposes of fraud or other illegal activity.


The Library reserves the right to terminate an Internet session at any time.

BPL Internet Access Policy, approved September 2007

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