Internet Use Procedures and Guidelines

Policies & Procedures

Background: This procedure addresses non-compliance with library policy when patrons are displaying sexually explicit images on library computers within view of staff or the public.

The Boston Public Library has three policies which address this issue:

The Library’s Appropriate Library Use Policy prohibits users from “engaging in any activity in violation of Federal, State, local, or other applicable law or Library policy” and the Internet Policy notes that users may not “receive or display graphics which may reasonably be construed as obscene as defined by law.” Furthermore, the policy also states that users may not “display images, sounds or messages in a way that will negatively affect those who find them objectionable or offensive” and that “all adults using unfiltered access computers must use privacy screens.”

Additionally, the Boston Public Library complies with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) which requires that the Library prohibit access by minors to inappropriate matter on the Internet and the World Wide Web and protect the safety and security of minors when using electronic mail, chat rooms, and other forms of direct electronic communications.

The Library uses filtering software to prevent access to sites that are sexually explicit, but has no control over images that are transmitted through e-mail and other personal communication services. Also, filtering software cannot guarantee that all sites prohibited by the Library’s internet policies are blocked.

If staff members receive a complaint from a patron or themselves view images they believe fall within the categories prohibited by the Library’s policy, they will tell computer users that the site they are viewing is in violation of the Library’s Internet Policy and that they need to refrain from displaying such material. If the users persist, they will be told to log off and if users do not do so, staff will end the session via the Pharos computer management software.

If staff members are not comfortable approaching the patron themselves, they will call security and explain the situation and guard staff will respond.

Approved by Administrative Council June 8, 2011

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