The Newark Public Library
Internet and Computer Use Policy
Adopted by the Board of Trustees
June 23, 2004
Library Mission Statement
“The Newark Public Library is a vibrant center for community life and learning, offering people of all ages abundant opportunities to enrich their lives.
The library encourages and supports all people in the discovery of the joy of reading, the achievement of educational goals and the pursuit if lifelong learning.
The library provides current, accurate information, diverse collections, and instruction in the use of technology and resources, and assistance to researchers creating new knowledge.
The library serves as a free community cultural center, a focus point for community activities and a forum for community issues.
The library provides high interest, high demand materials in variety of formats and languages.”
The Newark Public Library Service Plan for 2000-2002
Principles Regarding Internet Access
In fulfillment of its mission, and in response to the diverse needs of the community, the library provides access to a broad array of resources in a variety of formats, including, print, microforms, videos, compact discs, DVDs, and commercially licensed databases. The Internet, a worldwide network of computer networks, is an essential medium for obtaining and transmitting information of all types. By providing the public with free access to the Internet, the library makes available a world of information beyond the confines of its collection, facilities and resources. By providing access to computers, the library enables the public to participate in the benefits of the information age.
Public access to computers and the Internet is, therefore, germane to the library’s mission and key to all of the library’s service roles as: a center for education and lifelong learning; a reference and research library; a community and cultural center; and a popular materials library.
The Internet is an unregulated medium, however, which, in addition to providing information that is personally, professionally and culturally enriching also enables access to material that is illegal and to materials that some find offensive.
In its provision of Internet access, the Newark Public Library is guided by these principles of the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, and its Interpretive Statement on Access to Electronic Information, Services and Networks:
“Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves.”
Library Bill of Rights
“Users should not be restricted or denied access for expressing or receiving constitutionally protected speech…Users have both the right of confidentiality and the right of privacy.”
Access to Electronic Information
Responsibilities of the Library
To assist and guide library patrons in the use of the Internet, the library offers on its web site, www.npl.org, an extensive collection of guides to web resources that have been selected, evaluated and recommended by library staff for the quality of their content and their appropriateness for use by children, young adults and teens.
To enhance patrons’ information literacy skills, the library offers a continuing program of free computer classes, which include instruction on using the Internet, email and other computer applications.
Because the Library receives federal funding for public Internet access, federal law requires the library to install blocking software on the library’s Internet terminals.
The blocking software, or filter, is intended to protect against access to Internet material that is obscene, child pornography, or harmful to minors. The filter is imperfect and technologically limited, however, and so it may block access to some constitutionally protected material on the Internet and may fail to completely block Internet material that is obscene, child pornography or harmful to minors.
As the law requires, the library will provide unfiltered Internet access to persons 17 or older who request it for bona fide research or any other lawful purpose.
To ensure patrons’ privacy and the confidentiality of library records, the library shall not disclose personally identifiable information about library users except to law enforcement authorities as required by law.
Library staff shall not monitor an individual’s Internet use except as may be required to ensure compliance with library policy and/or procedures.
Access by Minors
The library affirms and acknowledges the rights and responsibilities of parents and guardians to monitor and determine their children’s access to library materials and resources, including those available through the Internet.
To address the issue of access by minors (defined in this policy as persons under the age of 17) to inappropriate material on the Internet, including material that is harmful to minors, the library:
- has installed filters on all Internet stations
- prohibits minors’ access to unfiltered Internet stations
- develops and maintains special web sites for children and teens
- includes instruction on safe practices in computer classes for young people
- offers WebWise, a class for parents and children to discover the Internet together
- encourages staff to guide minors away from materials that may be inappropriate
- distributes in print, and provides a link from the library’s web site, to NetSmartz Workshop by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
To address the issue of the safety and security of minors when using electronic mail, chat rooms and other forms of direct electronic communications, as well as the unauthorized disclosure, use and dissemination of personal identification information regarding minors, the library provides training programs, signs, brochures, and bookmarks urging minors to keep in mind the following safety guidelines:
- Never give out identifying information such as home address, school name, or telephone number.
- Let parents or guardians decide whether personal information such as age, marital status, or financial information should be revealed.
- Never arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone via the computer without parents’ or guardians’ approval.
- Never respond to messages that are suggestive, obscene, threatening, or make one uncomfortable.
- Have parents or guardians report an incident to the National Center for Missing and Exploited at 1-800-843-5678 if one becomes aware of the transmission of child pornography.
- Remember that people online may not be who they say they are.
- Remember that everything one reads may not be true.
To address the issue of unauthorized access, including so-called “hacking,” and other unlawful activities by minors online, minors and all other library users are hereby advised that use of the library’s computers for hacking or other unlawful activity is strictly prohibited.
Responsibilities of Users
Use of any public access computer at the Newark Public Library constitutes acceptance of this policy and related procedures.
The library reserves the right to terminate the session, evict the patron, or suspend or terminate the library privileges of any one who engages in unacceptable use or whose computer use disrupts library service, or violates library policies or procedures.
Among the uses that are considered unacceptable and which constitute a violation of this policy are:
1. Uses that violate the law or encourage others to violate the law. Transmitting of offensive or harassing messages; offering for sale or use any substance the possession or use of which is prohibited by law; viewing, transmitting or downloading pornographic material or materials that encourage others to violate the law; downloading or transmitting confidential, trade secret information, or copyrighted materials. Even if materials on the networks are not marked with the copyright symbol, users should assume that all materials are protected unless there is explicit permission on the materials to use them.
The distribution of unauthorized copies of copyrighted motion pictures (or songs) constitutes copyright infringement under the Copyright Act, Title 17 United States Code Section 106(3). This conduct may also violate the laws of other countries, international law, and/or treaty obligations. (Amendment April 14, 2011)
2. Uses that cause harm to others or damage to their property. Engaging in defamation (harming another’s reputation by lies); uploading a worm, virus, “trojan horse,” “time bomb” or other harmful form of programming or vandalism; participating in “hacking” activities or any form of unauthorized access to other computers, networks, or information systems.
3. Uses that jeopardize the security of access of the computer network or other networks on the Internet. Disclosing or sharing the user’s password with others; impersonating another user; using one’s own software programs on the library’s computers; altering the library’s computer settings; damaging or modifying computer equipment or software.
4. Uses that compromise the safety and security of minors when using e-mail, chat rooms and other forms of direct electronic communications.
Minors under age 17: Giving others private information about one’s self or others, including credit card numbers and social security numbers; arranging a face-to-face meeting with someone one has “met” on the computer network or Internet without a parent’s permission.
5. Uses that intrude upon the rights of others. Invading the privacy of others. Harassing others users or library staff.
While the library endeavors to provide access to information of the highest quality, the library specifically disclaims any warranty as to the information’s accuracy, timeliness, authoritativeness, usefulness or fitness for a particular purpose.
The library shall have no liability for direct, indirect or consequential damages related to the use of information accessed through the library’s Internet service or for damages related to the operation of, or failure of, the filtering software, or for its circumvention by users.
The availability of information via the library’s Internet service does not constitute endorsement of the content of that information by the library.
Since software and information downloaded from any sources, including the Internet, may contain computer viruses, users are advised to utilize virus checking software on their computers.
The library is not responsible for damage to users’ disks or computers or for any loss of data, damage or liability that may occur from use of the library’s computers.
Library staff shall develop such rules and procedures as are necessary to ensure the fair and reasonable use of Internet access.
The following served as significant resources in the development of this policy:
New Jersey State Library. Sample Internet Use Policies
American Library Association. Office of Intellectual Freedom Sample Library Policies
The New York Public Library. Policy on Public Use of the Internet