The policy of the Howell Carnegie District Library (HCDL) with regard to Internet access by the public has been guided by the following: The idea of free and unrestricted access to information is a fundamental principle of the public library tradition, and the Bill of Rights in the Constitution of the United States.  A library, as a public facility, must maintain an atmosphere conducive to enjoyment by all members of the public. Individuals afforded the freedom to use the library have a responsibility not to engage in offensive or disruptive conduct.

HCDL offers access to the wealth of information available on the Internet. Not all sources on the Internet provide information that is accurate, complete, current or legal. HCDL is unable to monitor or control the content of the materials on the Internet which changes rapidly and unpredictably.  The Internet is not governed by any entity so there are no limits or checks on the kind of information contained there.  Users should carefully evaluate Internet sources questioning the validity of the information provided.

Technology Protection Measure

In compliance with Federal Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) and Michigan Public Act 212 of 2000, the HCDL utilizes technology protection measures on all computers in the library.  This is in the form of third party software that provides filtered Internet access.  This filtering software helps to protect against access to visual depictions deemed “obscene,” “child pornography,” or “harmful to minors.”

Filtering software is flawed. In some instances it may block access to constitutionally protected material on the Internet or fail to block access to material that is obscene or harmful. Under the law, a staff member can unblock individual websites for minors that have been blocked erroneously upon request. A staff member can only completely disable the filter for adult patrons, 18 and over, on request.

If you feel that a site is inappropriately blocked by the filter, please complete a Request to Unblock an Internet Website form and return to a staff member at a Service Desk. When requested, an authorized staff member can override the filtering for those individuals 18 years of age or older or minors who are accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Supervision and Monitoring of Minors

It is the library’s policy that parents or legal guardians must assume responsibility for deciding what library resources are appropriate for their children. There will be some resources which parents may feel are inappropriate for their children. Parental supervision of children searching the Internet is advised. Parents or guardians, NOT the library staff, are responsible for the Internet information selected and/or accessed by their children.

It is the position of the library that staff presence and use of a filtering system should not be viewed as a substitute for parental supervision of a minor on the Internet. Parents are expected to guide their child’s use of the Internet.  Staff reserves the right to terminate the Internet session of minors found to be in violation of the library’s Internet Acceptable Use Policy.

For more information on Internet safety for children go to http://www.internetsafety101.org

Staff Assistance

Computer and Internet access at HCDL is intended for independent use.  Staff provides limited instructions and assistance for basic start up, navigation, saving and printing functions, but cannot provide extensive personal instruction on-demand.  Computer classes and a drop-in lab are offered at the HCDL periodically throughout the year.   Patrons needing more assistance are encouraged to take advantage of these resources.  Books, manuals, tutorials and other useful reference sources are available.

Library staff uses the Internet to answer some reference questions, choosing web sites based on the library’s Collection Development Policy.  As with print materials, staff can assist with selections, using reviews and experience to guide a patron to a web site.

Network Usage

To the extent practical, steps shall be taken to promote the safety and security of all users of the HCDL online computer network when using electronic mail, chat rooms, instant messaging, and other forms of electronic communications.  All HCDL Computer/Internet users, including minors, are forbidden from using any HCDL equipment for any illegal activity.    Specifically, prevention of inappropriate network usage includes:

  • unauthorized access, including so-called “hacking”, and other unauthorized disclosure,
  • unauthorized disclosure, use and dissemination of personal identification information
  • software piracy and violation of copyright or license agreements and
  • attempts to damage or alter equipment, software or hardware configurations,
  • sending or displaying obscene or disruptive messages, files or images.

Computer/Internet Acceptable use Rules are prominently displayed upon logging in for Internet access at the library and on the library’s web page.  Individuals, who violate these policies, after being warned, may be restricted from access to library services and facilities.   Unacceptable use that is illegal may result in criminal prosecution as well.

Privacy and Anonymity

Consistent with the Library Privacy Act, MCL 397.601 et seq. (“Privacy Act”), and this Acceptable Use Policy, HCDL respects the privacy of patrons when they use a library computer. The library reserves the right to monitor a patron’s use of a library computer for compliance with this Acceptable Use Policy. Although the library generally shall not retain a record of a patron’s use of a library computer beyond 24 hours, the library may retain such a record for any investigation and determination of a potential or actual violation of this policy (including appeals).

In particular, and without limiting the foregoing, library staff may produce a screen shot of a library computer for evidentiary purposes if a library staff member has a reasonable suspicion that a patron is using the computer in violation of this Acceptable Use Policy. Any record of a patron’s use, including a screen shot, shall be retained by the library only so long as appropriate for any investigation and determination regarding a potential or actual violation. By accepting this policy prior to using a library computer, a patron is consenting to monitoring of the patron’s use of the library computer (including screen shots).

Precautions /Personal Information

Because the Internet is not secure, it is a patron’s responsibility to ensure that their personal data is not compromised. Sending any information, including credit card numbers, via the Internet is at the sole risk of the user. HCDL has no control over the security of this data.

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 unauthorized disclosure of, use, and dissemination of personal identification regarding minors, the library urges minors to follow the safety guidelines below:

  1. Never give out identifying information such as home address, school name, or telephone number.
  2. Let parents or guardians decide whether personal information such as age or financial information should be provided online.
  3. Never arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone through a computer without parent or guardian approval.
  4. Never respond to messages that are suggestive, obscene, or threatening.
  5. Remember that people online may not be who they say they are.

Software and other files downloaded from the Internet may contain viruses or spyware that may infect other computers. HCDL is not responsible for damage or loss that may occur from use of library computers.

Wireless Internet Access

The HCDL provides wireless Internet connectivity as a service for users with wireless enabled laptops and other devices.  This service is not to be used as a permanent connection. By choosing to use this service you agree to abide by the library’s Acceptable Use Policy that prohibits abusive or illegal activity while using the library’s Internet service.

Patrons using HCDL Wi-Fi service must acknowledge the following system limitations:  Wi-Fi is less secure than a wired network.  Signal strength may vary in the building.  Due to insurance limitations and warranties, library staff members cannot configure your laptop or install PCMCIA cards.

The HCDL assumes no responsibility for any alterations or interference with a laptop’s configuration, operation, or data files resulting from connection to the wireless network.

Virus and security protection is the user’s responsibility. The HCDL assumes no responsibility for damage, theft, or loss of any kind to a user’s equipment, software, data files or other personal property brought into or used at the library’s facilities.  The HCDL cannot guarantee that the service will be available at any specific time nor can the library accept reservations for wireless access.

APR 6-11-13

REV 1-14-14

REV 12-11-18