Public Use of the Internet
To fulfill its mission -- of providing quality services, resources and lifelong learning opportunities through books and a variety of other formats to meet the informational, educational, cultural and recreational needs and interests of its diverse and changing population -- the Queens Borough Public Library provides access to Internet resources. The Internet offers access to many valuable local, national and international sources of information. However, some information found on the Internet may be inaccurate, incomplete, dated, or offensive to some individuals. A good information consumer must evaluate the validity and appropriateness of information found.
Choosing and Evaluating Sources
The Internet is a series of communication linkages leading to a highly diverse array of information content. Library patrons use it at their own risk. In choosing sources to link to from its home pages, the Library follows its materials selection guidelines. Beyond this, the Library is not responsible for the content of the Internet, changes in content of the sources to which the Library home pages link, or for the content of sources accessed through secondary links. In an effort to assist its users, the Library has created web sites for the general population, for teens and for children to help guide them to sources that are accurate, complete and current and that provide them with a wealth of information on the local, national and global level. In addition, the Library provides training for members of the public to assist them in using the Internet in a safe, effective and efficient manner.
Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA)
The Library complies with the Children’s Internet Protection Act which requires the Library to have a policy that includes the operation of a technology protection measure, i.e. software filters, during the use of Library computers to access the Internet. CIPA defines minors as individuals under the age of 17.
In the case of minors, the technology protection measure is designed to prevent access to visual depictions that are:
- child pornography, or,
- harmful to minors.
In the case of adults, the technology protection measure is designed to prevent access to visual depictions that are:
- obscene, or,
- child pornography
Adults can independently disable the technology protection measure, at their choice, any time they use a library computer. Dates of birth must be on file in the library’s database to disable the technology protection measure. Those customers who do not have a date of birth on file and who wish unrestricted access to the Internet are required to provide proof of age.
Users should bear in mind that, given the current state of technology, no technology protection measure manufacturer is able or willing to guarantee that its technology protection measure will block access to all visual depictions that are obscene, child pornography, or, in the case of minors, harmful to minors.
Notwithstanding the Library’s use of a technology protection measure, users, and in the case of minors, their parents or guardians, are advised not to rely solely on the presence of a technology protection measure but to continue to exercise their own judgment in accessing information through the Internet. A technology protection measure may not block access to all materials a particular user, or in the case of minors, their parents or guardians, might consider inappropriate.
Overblocking and underblocking of Internet sites will be remedied by designated librarian staff. When a customer is blocked from an Internet site that they believe should not be blocked, or accesses a site that they believe should be blocked, the customer can select to report the site online so that the site can be reviewed by professional librarians. If the review determines that the site has been blocked in error, the block will be removed in the Library’s database. If the review determines the site should have been blocked, the site may be subsequently blocked.
Access by Minors
Parents or legal guardians must assume responsibility for deciding which library resources are appropriate for their own children. Parents or legal guardians should guide their children in use of the Internet and inform them about materials they should not use. While 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, the Library has taken certain measures designed to assist in the safe and effective use of these resources by all minors.
To address the issue of access by minors to inappropriate material on the Internet, including material that is harmful to minors, the Library:
- Develops and maintains special web sites for children and teens;
- Develops and provides training programs on safe and effective Internet use;
- Encourages staff to guide minors away from materials that may be inappropriate; and,
- Distributes a publication entitled "A Message to Parents: Surfing the Internet”.
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 and also urges 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 Children 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 any other unlawful activity is strictly prohibited.
Rules Governing Use
Due to the limited resources available for provision of public access to the Internet, the Library may set limits, for example, on use of large files of still or moving images or sound, or on downloading files in any medium. The Library also reserves the right to limit the amount of time an individual user can devote to a single session. The public must comply with all applicable federal, state and local laws, including laws governing the transmission and dissemination of information while accessing the Internet.
Users may not:
- Use the network to make unauthorized entry into other computational, informational or communication services or resources.
- Distribute unsolicited advertising.
- Invade the privacy of others.
- Make any attempt to damage computer equipment or software.
- Engage in any activity that is harassing or defamatory.
- Use the Internet for any illegal activity, including violation of copyright or other rights of third parties, or in a manner inconsistent with the Library's tax exempt status or its proper operation.
Violations may result in loss of access to Library computers and/or Library privileges. Unlawful activities will be addressed in an appropriate manner.
Public Users' Security
Users should be aware that the Internet is not a secure medium and that third parties may be able to obtain information regarding users' activities. However, The Queens Borough Public Library will not release information on the use of specific Internet resources by members of the public except as required by law or necessary for the proper operation of the Library.
The Library reserves the right to take appropriate action to insure compliance with this policy.
Guidelines on Access to Information
The Queens Borough Public Library is guided by the following American Library Association statements on access to information:
- The Library Bill of Rights
- Freedom to Read Statement
- Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights: Free Access to Libraries for Minors and Access to Electronic Information Services and Resources
In general, the Library is guided by a commitment to provide free and open access to information, and policies that provide appropriate protections to its patrons, while being consistent with the Library's longstanding commitment to the principles of free expression as set forth in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Policy Subject to Revision
This policy may be revised from time to time.
Policy & Procedures Section D#23