Putnam District Library

Internet Safety and Computer Use Policies

Review types of internet users, laws regarding minors, rules of use, and violation policies
Putnam District Library strives to incorporate technology in support of the Library’s mission, providing access for all of its patrons.  Access to the Internet enables Putnam District Library to greatly expand its information services beyond traditional collections.  The Internet offers access to Internet-based communications as well as a wealth of information and sites including useful ideas, information and opinions from around the world.  However, not all sources on the Internet provide information that is accurate, complete or legal.  Internet users will need to evaluate for themselves the validity of the information found. 
Because the Internet is a vast and unregulated information network, it also enables access to information, ideas and commentary beyond the confines of the Library’s mission and policies.  The provision of access does not mean or imply that the Library endorses or sanctions the content or point of view of any of the information or commentary that may be found on the Internet.  The Internet may contain information that is controversial, sexually explicit or offensive to some patrons.  Library patrons use the Internet at their own risk. 
To comply with the laws of the United States and of the State of Michigan, the following rules are approved by the Library Board and shall be enforced by the Library Staff.  The following should be read carefully as it explains the Library’s service, expectations, and the responsibilities of both the Library and the user.
Types of Computer Users
At Putnam District Library, there are three types of computer users:
  1. Library Card Holders
    A signature on the library card application indicates acceptance of the Library’s policies.  Youth must also sign their library card indicating acceptance of the Library’s policies. It is also acceptable for the youth’s responsible adult to sign their card as they are ultimately responsible for the account.
  2. Guest Internet Users
    This user type is for visitors to our library who will only use the Internet for a limited period of time. This guest internet pass is good for 2 weeks. An individual may obtain 2 passes per year. Those who wish to use the computer more frequently will need to apply for a library card. Visitors under the age of 18 must have an adult with them to obtain a guest internet pass.
  3. Staff Users
    Staff members are also library patrons and are accountable to the same policies as other users.

 Use by Teen & Junior Users
As required by Michigan Public Act 212 of 2000 ("P.A. 212"), the Library will adopt and enforce a policy that restricts minors (patrons under the age of 18) ("Minors") from accessing obscene material, child pornography, or sexually explicit material deemed harmful to minors (as those terms are defined by state law) in their use of the Internet.  To comply with P.A. 212, all public Internet access at the Library, including wireless access, will be filtered from receiving obscenity and sexually explicit material that is harmful to minors, as those terms are defined by P.A. 212.  Patrons 18 years of age or older shall not allow Minors to view or have access to visual sexually explicit matter that is harmful to minors as defined in P.A. 212. 

In addition to the filtering of all terminals, the staff, while not to be considered or used as "traffic cops" nor to act in loco parentis, shall make all reasonable efforts, within the course of their other duties, to monitor activity at the internet terminals.  Minors may only have the filters disabled if they make a request in writing, with a parent or guardian’s signature, on a form provided by the Library for (1) bona fide research or other lawful purposes and (2) only if a parent or legal guardian has accompanied them to the Library and is sitting at the computer station or terminal at all times.  Minors may request in writing on a form provided by the Library that a particular site be unblocked, but only if the site does not include obscene or sexually explicit material deemed harmful to minors as defined by Michigan law.  Procedures for the disabling or otherwise modifying any technology protection measures shall be the responsibility of the Library Director or designated representatives.

As no filter is 100% effective, parents or guardians of Minors are responsible for their child’s use of the Internet through the Library’s connection.  Minors will be allowed access to web-based e-mail and chat rooms.  The Library reserves the right to require Minors to exit any chat room discussions or prevent access to any e-mail, including attachments, containing sexually explicit material that is harmful to minors as covered under P.A. 212.  As with other materials in the Library’s collection, it is the Library’s policy that parents or legal guardians are responsible for deciding which library resources are appropriate for their children.  The Library urges parents and guardians to discuss Internet use with their children and to monitor their use of this tool.

 Internet Services Policies & Rules of Use
  • Users must check out a computer station using card/guest pass. Failure to do so may result in termination of the User’s work session.
  • Internet access via the Library computers, the computer network and the Library’s wireless connection is available at all times that the library is open, unless the Library is experiencing technical difficulties.  Use is limited to 30 minutes during peak times.  Staff may grant extended periods of use as requested or limit use as need requires.
  • The Library’s wireless connection is available at all times, unless the Library is experiencing technical difficulties.
  • Library computers are provided for public access to the Internet, the library’s catalog, reference materials, and productivity software.  Users must not damage or alter the setup, hardware, or software of the Library’s computers.  Downloading of or use of personal software on the computers is prohibited. The Library is not responsible for damage to personal data, disks or equipment.
  • Use of the Internet is free; however, the Library reserves the right to charge for printing.  Users are responsible to pay for all pages they print; failure to pay all printing charges will result in the loss of computer privileges.
  • The Library is not responsible for the security of any personal information, files, or communications disclosed on the Internet from the Library computers or using the wireless Internet connection; therefore, patrons should proceed at their own risk.
  • Patrons should not download or save any information to the computer’s hard drive.  All information saved to the hard drive is deleted upon the computer being turned off or rebooted.
  • All Library computers are configured to filter out obscene matter and sexually explicit materials.  Unrestricted Internet access is available only to individuals 18 years of age or older or individuals under 18 years of age who are accompanied by and sitting at the workstation with their parent or guardian.  Patrons 18 years of age or older may request in writing, on a form provided by the Library, to have the filters disabled for bona fide research or other lawful purposes.  Those accepting this policy agree to use a designated workstation and to not create an offensive, intimidating or hostile environment for other Library users.
  • Patrons 18 years of age or older may request in writing, on a form provided by the Library, that a site they believe has been erroneously blocked be unblocked unless such site violates federal or state law or Library policy.
All users of the Internet are expected to use this Library resource in a responsible and courteous manner, consistent with the purposes for which it is provided; and to follow all Library-related rules, regulations and procedures established for its use including those following as well as all applicable Library policies. 

Computer resources may not be used for the following purposes:
  • Violation of any applicable federal, state, or local laws, ordinances, rules, or regulations including laws related to obscenity, child pornography, and Minors viewing material deemed harmful to minors as defined by law.  The Library’s internet connection may not be used for any fraudulent or unlawful purpose.
  • Destruction of or damage to equipment, software or data belonging to the Library or other users.
  • Gaining or attempting to gain unauthorized access to or disrupting any computing, information, or communications devices or resources, including access codes, passwords, or network identification numbers assigned to others.
  • Unauthorized copying of copyrighted or other protected material.  Responsibility for any copyright infringement lies with the user.  The Library expressly disclaims any liability or responsibility resulting from such use.
  • Violation of computer system security.
  • Use of computer communications facilities in ways that unnecessarily impede the computing activities of others (such as randomly initiating interactive electronic communications or e-mail exchanges, overuse of interactive network utilities, etc.)
  • Violation of another person’s or party’s privacy by misrepresenting oneself as another user; by attempting to modify or gain access to files, passwords or data belonging to others; and by seeking disallowed access to any computer system via the Internet.
  • Use of any software other than what is provided by the Library without permission.  This includes the attachment of equipment to the Library’s computers or networks or the modification of any operating system or network configuration, and the downloading/uploading of files to/from the Library’s computers. 
  • All forms of gambling, including but not limited to, casino games.
  • Violation of any part of the Library’s Patron Code of Conduct including, but not limited to, excessive noise or use of cell phones and the Unattended Children’s Policy.
 Users are cautioned that, because security in an electronic environment such as the Internet cannot be guaranteed, all transactions, files, and communication are vulnerable to unauthorized access and use and, therefore, should be considered public.  The Library does not provide e-mail accounts to the public; however, web-based e-mail may be utilized.  Attachments may be downloaded when technically possible, subject to the same rules as other Internet software.

Violations, Penalties, and Appeals
Law enforcement officials will be notified for violations of federal, state, and local laws; this may result in arrest or prosecution.  In addition, the Library reserves the right to deny Internet usage to patrons with material(s) overdue and/or owing more than $5.00 in fines or fees.
The Library takes seriously any violation of its policy.  Thus, the Library Director or the Director's designee may restrict access to Library facilities by:
  1. Terminating or limiting computer, Internet access or library facilities
  2. Immediately dismissing the patron from the premises
  3. Suspending the patron’s access to library facilities for a set period of time
  4. Denying access to specific services and/or programs pursuant to this Policy as set forth more fully below.

    If necessary, the local police may be called to intervene.

 Incident Reports
Library Staff shall record in writing any violation of this Policy that resulted in a verbal warning or a suspension of library privileges. By the end of the day on which the incident occurred, a record of the incident shall be written and forwarded to the Library Director for logging and review. The report should include physical descriptions in addition to the name of the patron.  Any restriction imposed by staff shall be documented on this report for review and follow up by the Library Director.

Policy Violations – Suspension of Privileges
Unless otherwise provided in this Policy, the Library shall handle violations as follows:
  1. Initial Violation: Library patrons observed violating this policy will be asked to cease the violation with a verbal request.  If the patron does not comply with the request, he or she will be asked to leave the building for the day.  If he or she refuses, police may be called.
  2. Subsequent Violations: The Director or the Director's authorized designee may further limit or revoke the patron's library privileges if infractions continue.  Such limitation or revocation shall be in writing specifying the nature of the violation.  Subsequent violations of the same rule shall result in additional suspensions of increasing length.
Violations that Affect Safety and Security
Violations involving violations of law (including child pornography and allowing minors to view sexually explicit or other material deemed harmful to minors), violence, threatening behaviors, sexual harassment, vandalism, theft, or attempted theft, sexual misconduct or any behavior that threatens the safety and security of staff and/or patrons shall be handled as follows:
  1. Initial Violation: The police will be called immediately. If the conduct constitutes a violation of local, state, or federal law, arrest or criminal prosecution may ensue.  Violations of this nature will result in an immediate minimum two-week suspension of library privileges.  The Incident Report shall specify the nature of the violation.
  2. Subsequent Violations: The police will be called immediately.  If the conduct constitutes a violation of local, state, or federal law, arrest or criminal prosecution may ensue.  The Director or the Director's authorized designee, may further limit or revoke the patron's library privileges in escalating responses, which will be documented in writing.  Subsequent violations of the same rule will result in additional suspensions of increasing length.
 Staff will attempt to contact parents, schools, or the police when appropriate if the incident involves a minor.  A written record of incidents, violations, and expulsions will be maintained.  If patrons do not leave upon request, police will be contacted.  Refusal to leave upon request will also be considered an infraction.  Appeals shall follow the same process as all other Appeals to the Board.

Wireless Access
Putnam District Library provides wireless Internet access to users on their own laptops or other wireless-enabled devices.  All users must abide by the above policies including compliance with any applicable state and federal laws. The Library's wireless connection is not secure.  Users should use caution and not transmit personal information (credit card numbers, passwords, etc.) while using any wireless "hotspot." The Library will not be responsible for any information (including credit card numbers) which is compromised or for any damage caused to users' hardware or software due to power surges, or security issues or consequences caused by viruses or hacking.  Anti-virus and security protection are the responsibility of the user.  The Library is not responsible for laptops or other devices left unattended.  Printing is not currently available via the wireless connection.  Library staff can provide general information but cannot troubleshoot problems related to users' wireless devices or assist in making changes to users' network settings and/or hardware configurations.

Staff Assistance
Staff may assist library users in getting started on the Internet.   However, the Library will not guarantee that Internet-trained staff will be available to assist users at all times.  Staff is not able to offer extensive explanations about the Internet or personal computer use or provide in-depth training.  Staff will do their best to provide information about Internet training opportunities in the community as well as Internet books and manuals.  More extensive instruction may be available by arrangement with the Library Director.
                                                                                (Adopted 2008, Filtering added Nov 2009, Reviewed Dec 2011; July 2012)