INTERNET USE POLICY & PROCEDURES
1. Internet access is provided at the Niagara Falls Public Library in keeping with the library’s mission to be an informational, educational, cultural and recreational resource for the community. The internet is a tool for lifelong learning and contains a wealth of information. The internet offers an opportunity for the public to become discriminating consumers of information and to develop on-line communication skills. The internet supplements the library’s collection of print, audio visual and electronic materials. It may include resources that some consider controversial or offensive. All internet workstations are available to all members of the public regardless of age, although children need parental permission to access unfiltered workstations. Internet access is provided free of charge.
2. Staff will maintain a website linking to the most popular and authoritative internet sites for ease of access; develop guides and recommend books and other materials to assist users in navigating the internet; inspect and report suspected illegal sites; and whenever time, knowledge and resources permit, offer internet training sessions for a fee. Some assistance may be given to internet users as time permits.
3. The internet provides a vast array of materials for different age levels and points of view. Not all internet sources provide accurate, complete, age appropriate, or current information. It is the user’s responsibility to question the validity of any information. The Library cannot control the availability of information links that change rapidly. The Niagara Falls Public Library assumes no responsibility for any direct or indirect damages arising from the use of its connection to internet services.
4. The Library will use reasonable efforts to ensure compliance of the Internet Use Policy & Procedures and take reasonable measures to ensure privacy and confidentiality of internet users. Users must agree to the Internet Use Policy at the beginning of each session by clicking on the “OK” button agreeing to be bound by the Internet Use Policy that is shown on the screen.
5. It is understood that the workstations are in public areas shared by people of all ages and sensibilities. Complete privacy cannot be guaranteed. Each user is ultimately responsible for the selection of sites and should be aware that other library users may be involuntarily exposed to what is displayed. The privacy of those using workstations must be respected. The internet area is a quiet area. Talking must be kept to a minimum, and incoming and outgoing calls are not allowed from cell phones.
6. A mix of filtered and unfiltered workstations are provided. The workstations in the Children’s Department of the Victoria Avenue Library will be filtered. The workstations at Chippawa, Stamford, and Community Centre branches are filtered, but may have the filters de-activated upon request. At least one workstation in the Adult Department of the Victoria Avenue Library will be filtered at all times. Others in the Adult Department of the Victoria Avenue Library will be unfiltered.
7. Filtered workstations are aimed at blocking sites that contain sexually explicit or hate speech material. Filters help reduce the chances of involuntary exposure to sites that may be considered by some to be offensive, inappropriate, or illegal. Commercial filtering software is installed. Software updates provided by the filtering company are also installed. No filtering product can block all offensive sites. The Library assumes no responsibility for the currency of the filter or the content provided through it.
8. Internet filters do not block all content that may violate a particular family’s values and beliefs. They do not always work as advertised and may fail to block some sexually explicit or hate speech sites. Filters cannot adapt to the age level and maturity of a particular child and do not help children learn to make independent judgements and proper decisions. Choices of words, ideas, and topics to be blocked are driven by the product owners’ personal values, ideology, and political agenda. These agendas may exclude sites that have helpful information regarding sex education, environmentalism, homosexuality, abortion, or some other health-related issues.
NOTES TO PARENTS AND CHILDREN
9. The Library does not act in place of a parent and is not responsible for enforcing restrictions which a parent or guardian may place on a minor’s use of internet service. Parents and guardians are responsible for monitoring their child’s internet activity and choice of workstation. Filtering software does not replace the need for parental guidance. Parents are encouraged to supervise their child’s internet use and to inform the child if there are materials they don’t want them to access. Parents should alert their children to internet marketing practices or gimmicks aimed at young consumers. Parents should set up rules, conditions, and boundaries for their children’s use of the internet. Every child develops intellectually, emotionally, and physically in a unique way. Parents can best evaluate their children’s readiness to use the internet and to judge their maturity to access the internet alone.
10. Parents and children are encouraged not to give out personal information online and not to discuss any information that makes them feel uncomfortable. Children should not respond to any messages that are mean or in any way make them feel uncomfortable. Children should never agree to get-together with someone “met” online without first checking with a parent.
Victoria Avenue Adult Department
11. Internet computers are networked through a booking system. Two sessions per day can be booked in advance by telephoning the Reference Department; by booking over the internet; or by using the booking software on the OPACs in the library. Bookings will be held for 5 minutes after the start of a session. After that, the computer will be available to the next person who is waiting for one. Although express computers do not need to be booked, they are connected to the booking system and time used on the express computers is counted as part of the daily total.
12. The booking system is designed to ensure that a patron does have time booked on a computer. Although the bookings are machine-specific, the bookings may be reassigned due to maintenance needs or machine failure. Every effort will be made to ensure reassignments are in the same time slot, but this cannot be guaranteed.
13. There is a daily time limit of 2 hours per day. This includes time spent on the express computers and the regular internet computers including the Adult and Children’s Departments at Victoria Avenue Library, and the branch libraries.
14. There is a session limit of 1 hour for the regular internet computers and 15 minutes for the express internet. These sessions are controlled by the computer booking systems. If no-one is waiting the booking system may extend the time by 15 minute increments up to the total daily time limit. The system keeps track of time used and will allow the total 2 hour per day limit to be used even if it is over more than two sessions.
15. Access to the computers is controlled using a valid Niagara Falls Public Library card. For visitors and those not eligible for a regular card an “Internet Only” card can be issued. Cards are not transferable and are meant to be used by the registered cardholder only. Loss of a card should be reported to staff.
16. Access to the unfiltered computers is controlled using a valid Niagara Falls Public Library card. Children’s cards automatically provide access to filtered computers only. Access to unfiltered computers is given when the parent signs a permission form in the library. The access code on the card is then changed to allow the child access to unfiltered computers.
17. No card lookups will be done.
18. At the end of their session users must click on the “Done” button at the top of the screen.
19. Some designated workstations may be used by a maximum of 2 people at a time, but only as long as other library users are not disrupted. All other workstations must be used by 1 person only.
20. Printouts are available from the self-serve printer in the internet area for 20¢ per page. Colour prints may be made for $1 per page by paying at the self-serve printer and then asking Reference Department staff to retrieve the printouts from the colour printer. Staff have the authority to refuse to print materials that they find illegal obscene, or offensive.
21. A USB cord is attached to each computer to transfer files to a patron's USB Flash Drive. In the Victoria Avenue Library Adult Department files can also be saved to a patron’s floppy disc. The information must be saved into “My Documents,” transferred to a staff workstation, and then to the storage device. Facilities are not available to burn CDs. Floppy discs are available for purchase at $1.50 each. USB Flash Drives are available at $15 each. Patrons are encouraged to use a web-based e-mail account so that they can mail the files to themselves and have it stored in their inbox.
22 A cord to plug headphones into is attached to each computer. Headphones are available at $1.50 each, but patrons are encouraged to bring their own. Volume levels must be set low enough that the sound from the headphones does not bother or annoy other patrons.
Victoria Avenue Children’s Department
23. There are two filtered internet workstations in the Victoria Avenue Library Children’s Department. The filter is always on these workstation.
24. Sessions are ½ hour long. Maximum time per day is 1 hour. If no-one is waiting a user may be allowed to stay on the computer to the maximum daily time limit. This includes the time spent on the computers in the Adult and Children’s Departments at Victoria Avenue Library, and the branch libraries.
25. This workstation may be booked in advance in person or by phoning the Children’s Department. Bookings are taken on the hour and ½ hour on a form kept at the Children’s Department desk. Concurrent sessions may not be booked. Only first names are used on the booking sheet to protect the users’ privacy. Booking sheets are shredded at the end of each day.
26. A Niagara Falls Public Library card is not required for this computer.
27. Adults with children may freely use this workstation. Adults by themselves are strongly encouraged to use the internet stations in the Adult Reference Department. Priority on this machine is given to children.
28. The Branch Libraries offer internet service on a number of machines dictated by the demand and space limitations of each branch.
29. Access to the computers is controlled by the central booking system. Sessions are 1 hour long. Maximum time per day is 2 hours. If no-one is waiting the booking system will give the option to extend time in 15 minute increments to the daily time limit. This includes the time spent on the computers in the Adult and Children’s Departments at Victoria Avenue Library, and the branch libraries.
30. These workstations may be booked in advance in person or by phoning the Branch Library. Bookings are made using the booking system. Bookings will be held for 5 minutes after the start of a session. After that, the computer will be available to the next person who is waiting for one.
31. These workstations are filtered. The filter may be disabled on request by patrons with adult cards or by children whose parents have signed the permission slip allowing their child access to unfiltered internet as long as the patron is not required to use filtered machines only by the library (see #37).
32 Wireless internet service is provided at the Victoria Avenue Library through an encrypted network with the base unit at the Reference Desk. Patrons must come to the Reference Desk to get an internet ticket with a password and access code.
33 Wireless internet sessions are 2 hours long. Users must agree to the Internet Use Policy
at the beginning of each session by clicking on the “OK” button agreeing to be bound by the Internet Use Policy that is shown on the screen.
34 Wireless internet service is unfiltered.
35. The following activities are prohibited: (see also # 37)
￢ Use of workstations for illegal, actionable, or criminal purposes or to seek access to unauthorized areas.
￢ Infringement of copyright and other intellectual property rights.
￢ Use of FTP (File Transfer Protocol) downloading.
￢ Use of personal disc and software programs
￢ Subverting or attempting to subvert any security devices in either software or hardware format which the library has installed on its internet workstations.
￢ Installing or attempting to install viruses or other programs designed to damage or alter software on the workstations, the local area network, or the internet, or seeking unauthorized access to any computer system.
￢ Sending unsolicited commercial material or spamming.
￢ Attempting to modify or gain access to files, passwords, or data belonging to others
￢ Vandalism or theft of library property.
￢ Misrepresenting oneself as another library user.
￢ Receiving or displaying text, images, graphics or materials which are illegal, obscene, or offensive
36. The library strives to maintain internet service at all times; however the library is not responsible for any monetary or other loss if internet service is not available.
37. Internet users must comply with the Internet Use Policy & Procedures which is available at the service desk and on the website. Any misuse or illegal use of this internet service or failure to comply with the Library’s Internet Use Policy & Procedures (see also #35) will result: a) in suspension or loss of the privilege to use the Library’s internet service (see #38); or b) be required to leave the library; or c) be subject to prosecution.
38. Should a patron's internet privileges be suspended (see #37), the following suspension periods will apply: 1st offense – that day and a warning; 2nd offense – 1 week; 3rd offense: 1 month; subsequent offenses: 6 months. If the suspension is for viewing illegal, obscene or offensive material the patron will be restricted to filtered internet stations after the 2nd offense. Any offense that results in the police being called will result in an automatic 1 month suspension that may be increased upon review by the Chief Librarian.
39. The Library acknowledges the assistance of the Canadian Library Association’s brochure “Have a Safe Trip! A Parent’s Guide to Safety on the Internet” in preparing this Policy, and the financial support of the Government of Canada (Industry Canada & Human Resources & Skills Development Canada) and the Province of Ontario (Ministry of Culture) for funding some hardware, software, and connectivity to the internet.
DATE OF LAST REVISION: May 19, 1999; February 16, 2005, Dec. 20, 2006, June 16, 2009
DATE OF LAST REVIEW: October 20, 2004; February 16, 2005, Dec. 20, 2006, June 16, 2009