Internet Policy for Public Use
Wauconda Area Public Library District
INTERNET POLICY FOR PUBLIC USE
Approved by the Board of Library Trustees May 9, 2005
The mission statement of the Wauconda Area Library states that the library's purpose "is to provide and promote a variety of library resources and services in response to the informational, educational, cultural, and recreational needs of both the residential and business communities."
In keeping with its mission and with advances in information technology, the Library provides users with access to the Internet.
The Library is a forum for all points of view and adheres to the principles of intellectual freedom as expressed in the Library Bill of Rights formulated by the American Library Association.
The Internet is a global electronic network that provides dynamic resources and facilitates communication. Library staff cannot control access points that often change rapidly and unpredictably. Users are hereby notified that they are responsible for the choice of sites that they visit.
As with other materials, restriction of a child's access to the Internet is the responsibility of the parent or legal guardian. Parents or guardians of minors (all persons under the age of 18) must assume responsibility for their children's use of the Internet through the library's connection. An important set of helpful suggestions for your child's safety on the Internet is Child Safety on the Information Highway, reprinted and distributed with permission of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (see Appendix A). Parents and children are especially encouraged to read the section of this document titled My Rules for Online Safety (see also Appendix A).
Every stationary computer workstation in the library is filtered, to the extent technically possible, to deny access to potentially offensive material -- primarily adult-oriented, sexually explicit web sites. The filtering system is updated frequently in an effort to ensure a current list of blocked sites. However, users should be aware that no filtering product can block all offensive sites.
The Wauconda Area Library makes no warranty, expressed or implied, for the timeliness, accuracy or usefulness for a particular purpose of information accessed via the Internet.
Users must comply with U.S. copyright law and all other applicable laws.
The Wauconda Area Public Library District assumes no responsibility for any damages, direct or indirect, arising from use of its Internet services.
The Library will provide public access to the Internet in locations where workstations can be monitored by staff for assistance and security.
Internet workstations will be available to all members of the public, regardless of age. Each workstation will provide access to the World Wide Web; access to electronic mail, listservs and newsgroups will not be actively supported on any workstation.
Every stationary computer workstation in the library is filtered, to the extent technically possible, to deny access to adult-oriented, sexually explicit web sites. The filtering system is updated frequently in an effort to ensure a current list of blocked sites. However, users should be aware that no filtering product can block all offensive sites.
Unfiltered access to the Internet is available by utilizing one of the library’s laptop computers which are available for checkout. See Laptop Computer Checkout Policy and Library Laptop Guide for further information.
The Library will make users aware of its Internet Access Policy through signage, brochures, and through on-line acceptance of this policy prior to Internet access. The Library will also develop its homepage and provide free orientation sessions, bookmarks, and other tools to guide users in navigating the Internet. Library staff is available to help patrons begin their search for information, and have identified specific starting points for searches on the Library’s homepage.
The Library also provides access to supporting material for parents regarding child safety on the information highway.
The Library cannot control or monitor the material that may be available on this worldwide network, but may implement software and hardware control mechanisms intended to prohibit access to information which is illegal or inconsistent with the Library’s mission and service goals.
Where permitted by copyright, users may copy information from the Internet. Printing from the Internet, and downloading to disc, will be available under the same terms and conditions as apply in all other areas of the Library.
All users are expected to abide by the conditions and terms of the Internet Policy, and use of the Library workstations is conditional on the user’s acceptance of this Policy.
Parents and guardians are responsible for their child’s choice of workstation and Internet activity, whether or not the child has a library card. Upon signing for a child’s library card, a parent or guardian assumes responsibility for their child’s access to all resources in the library, including electronic resources such as the Internet.
Users must be aware that Internet workstations are in public areas that are shared by people of all ages and sensibilities. All Library users are expected to respect the privacy of others using the Internet and not interfere with their use.
Sanctions for misuse of workstations
Violators of this Internet Policy for Public Use may be required to immediately leave the building at the discretion of the "Person In Charge." Violators may also have their library privileges suspended or revoked at the discretion of the Library Director.
Patrons who use the Library’s Internet workstations for illegal purposes will be subject to prosecution.
The following activities constitute a violation of the Library’s Internet Policy
- use of the workstations for illegal or criminal purposes, or for access to unauthorized areas
- posting or transmitting of any unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, pornographic, or similar material
- intentionally exposing other library users or staff to information or graphics that are offensive
- infringement of copyright and other intellectual property right
- use of file transfer protocol (FTP) or "chat rooms"
- subverting, or attempting to subvert, any security devices in either software or hardware format
- attempting to install viruses or other programs designed to damage or alter software
- sending unsolicited commercial material or spamming
- misrepresenting oneself as another user
- attempting to modify or gain access to files, passwords or data belonging to others
- vandalism or theft of library property
- display or dissemination of sexually explicit materials
- causing physical damage to any part of a computer workstation
Display/dissemination of sexually explicit materials
Use of Library Internet access stations to display or disseminate sexually explicit or sexually suggestive (obscene/pornographic) material in any Library building is prohibited. Violators of this policy may be required to immediately leave the building at the discretion of the "Person In Charge." Violators may also have their library privileges suspended or revoked at the discretion of the Library Director.
Time limits per day
An individual has up to one half hour on the Internet if others are waiting. An individual has up to 2 hours maximum even if no one is waiting. In order to maximize availability of the Internet for all users, each individual is limited to a total of 2 hours per day, regardless of how many terminals are used.
Use of private computer rooms
All rules and restrictions listed in this policy apply to Internet usage in these rooms, in both Adult and in Children's Services.
Use of one of the library’s private computer rooms requires signing up in advance at the Reference Desk of the department in which that room is located. In order to use any of the library's private computer rooms, all users must have a valid Wauconda Area Library card, and each of these workstations may be shared by only one other person.
CHILD SAFETY ON THE INFORMATION HIGHWAY
Whatever it's called, millions of people are now connecting their personal computers to telephone lines so that they can "go online." Traditionally, online services have been oriented towards adults, but that's changing. An increasing number of schools are going online and, in many homes, children are logging on to commercial services, private bulletin boards, and the Internet. As a parent you need to understand the nature of these systems.
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Online services are maintained by commercial, self-regulated businesses that may screen or provide editorial/user controls, when possible, of the material contained on their systems.
Computer Bulletin Boards, called BBS systems, can be operated by individuals, businesses, or organizations. The material presented is usually theme oriented offering information on hobbies and interests. While there are BBS systems that feature "adult" oriented material, most attempt to limit minors from accessing the information contained in those systems.
The Internet, a global "network of networks," is not governed by any entity. This leaves no limits or checks on the kind of information that is maintained by and accessible to Internet users.
The Benefits of the Information Highway
The vast array of services that you currently find online is constantly growing. Reference information such as news, weather sports, stock quotes, movie reviews, encyclopedias, and airline fares are readily available online. Users can conduct transactions such as trading stocks, making travel reservations, banking, and shopping online. Millions of people communicate through electronic mail (E-mail) with family and friends around the world and others use the public message boards t o make new friends who share common interests. As an educational and entertainment tool users can learn about virtually any topic, take a college course, or play an endless number of computer games with other users or against the computer itself. User "computing" is enhanced by accessing online thousands of shareware and free public domain software titles.
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Most people who use online services have mainly positive experiences. But, like any endeavor - traveling, cooking, or attending school - there are some risks. The online world, like the rest of society, is made up of a wide array of people. Most are de cent and respectful, but some may be rude, obnoxious, insulting, or even mean and exploitative.
Children and teenagers get a lot of benefit from being online, but they can also be targets of crime and exploitation in this as in any other environment. Trusting, curious, and anxious to explore this new world and the relationships it brings, children and teenagers need parental supervision and common sense advice on how to be sure that their experiences in "cyberspace" are happy, healthy, and productive.
Putting the Issue in Perspective
Although there have been some highly publicized cases of abuse involving computers, reported cases are relatively infrequent. Of course, like most crimes against children, many cases go unreported, especially if the child is engaged in an activity that he or she does not want to discuss with a parent. The fact that crimes are being committed online, however, is not a reason to avoid using these services.
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To tell children to stop using these services would be like telling them to forgo attending college because students are sometimes victimized on campus. A better strategy would be for children to learn how to be "street smart" in order to better safeguard themselves in any potentially dangerous situation.
What Are the Risks?
There are a few risks for children who use online services. Teenagers are particularly PRIVATE "TYPE=PICT;ALT= "
at risk because they often use the computer unsupervised and because they are more likely than younger children to participate in online discussions regarding companionship, relationships, or sexual activity. Some risks are:
Exposure to Inappropriate Material One risk is that a child may be exposed to inappropriate material of a sexual or violent nature.
Physical Molestation Another risk is that, while online, an child might provide information or arrange and encounter that could risk his or her safety or the safety of other family members. In a few cases, pedophiles have used online services and bulletin boards to gain a child's confidence and then arrange a face-to-face meeting.
Harassment A third risk is that child might encounter E-mail or bulletin board messages that are harassing, demanding, or belligerent.
How Parents Can Reduce the Risks
To help restrict your child's access to discussion, forums, or bulletin boards that contain inappropriate material, whether textual or graphic, many of the commercial online services and some private bulletin boards have systems in place for parents to block out parts of the service they feel are inappropriate for their children. If you are concerned, you should contact the service via telephone or E-mail to find out how you can add these restrictions to any accounts that your children can access.
The Internet and some private bulletin boards contain areas designed specifically for adults who wish to post, view, or read sexually explicit material. Most private bulletin board operators who post such material limit access to people who attest that they are adults but, like any other safeguards, be aware that there are always going to be cases where adults fail to enforce them or children find ways around them.
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The best way to assure that your children are having positive online experiences is to stay in touch with what they are doing. One way to do this is to spend time with your children while they're online. Have them show you what they do and ask them to teach you how to access the services.
While children and teenagers need a certain amount of privacy, they also need parental involvement and supervision in their daily lives. The same general parenting skills that apply to the "real world" also apply while online.
If you have cause for concern about your children's online activities, talk to them. Also seek out the advice and counsel of other computer users in your area and become familiar with literature on these systems. Open communication with your children, utilization of such computer resources, and getting online yourself will help you obtain the full benefits of these systems and alert you to any potential problem that may occur with their use.
Guidelines for Parents
By taking responsibility for your children's online computer use, parents can greatly minimize any potential risks of being online. Make it a family rule to:
- Never give out identifying information - home address, school name, or telephone number - in a public message such as chat or bulletin boards, and be sure you're dealing with someone that both you and your children know and trust before giving out via E-mail. Think carefully before revealing any personal information such as age, martial status, or financial information. Consider using a pseudonym or unlisting your child's name if your service allows it.
- Get to know the services your child uses. If you don't know how to log on, get your child to show you. Find out what types of information it offers and whether there are ways for parents to block out objectionable material.
- Never allow a child to arrange a face-to-face meeting with another computer user without parental permission. If a meeting is arranged, make the first one in a public spot, and be sure to accompany your child.
- Never respond to messages or bulletin board items that are suggestive, obscene, belligerent, threatening, or make you feel uncomfortable. Encourage your children to tell you if they encounter such messages. If you or your child receives a message that is harassing, of a sexual nature, or threatening, forward a copy of the message to your service provider and ask for their assistance.
Should you become aware of the transmission, use, or viewing of child pornography while online, immediately report this to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children by calling 1-800-843-5678. You should also notify your online service.
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- Remember that people online may not be who they seem. Because you can't see or even hear the person it would be easy for someone to misrepresent him-or herself. Thus, someone indicating that "she" is a "12-year-old girl" could in reality be a 40-year-old man.
- Remember that everything you read online may not be true. Any offer that's "too good to be true" probably is. Be very careful about any offers that involve your coming to a meeting or having someone visit your house.
- Set reasonable rules and guidelines for computer use by your children (see "My Rules for Online Safety" as sample). Discuss these rules and post them near the computer as a reminder. Remember to monitor their compliance with these rules, especially when it comes to the amount of time your children spend on the computer. A child or teenager's excessive use of online services or bulletin boards, especially late at night, may be a clue that there is a potential problem. Remember that personal computers and online services should not be used as electronic babysitters.
- Be sure to make this a family activity. Consider keeping the computer in a family room rather than in the child's bedroom. Get to know their "online friends" just as you get to know all of their other friends.
MY RULES FOR ONLINE SAFETY
"My Rules for Online Safety" are from Child Safety on the Information Highway by Lawrence J. Magid. They are reprinted with permission of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). Copyright NCMEC 1994. All rights reserved.
- I will not give out personal information such as my address, telephone number, parents' work address/telephone number, or the name and location of my school without my parents permission.
- I will tell my parents right away if I come across any information that makes me feel uncomfortable.
- I will never agree to get together with someone I "meet" online without first checking with my parents. If my parents agree to the meeting, I will be sure that it is in a public place and bring my mother or father along.
- I will never send a person my picture or anything else without first checking with my parents.
- I will not respond to any messages that are mean or in any way make me feel uncomfortable. It is not my fault if I get a message like that. If I do I will tell my parents right away so that they can contact the online service.
- I will talk with my parents so that we can set up rules for going online. We will decide upon the time of day that I can be online, the length of time I can be online, and appropriate areas for me to visit. I will not access other areas or break the rules without their permission.
About This Document
Child Safety on the Information Highway was written by Lawrence J. Magid, a syndicated columnist for the Los Angeles Times, who is the author of Cruising Online: Larry Magid's Guide to the New Digital Highway (Random House, 1994) and The Little PC Book (Peachpit Press, 1993).
Child Safety on the Information Highway was jointly produced by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Interactive Services Association (8403 Colesville Road, Suite 865, Silver Spring, MD 20910).