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Monterey County Free Libraries Internet Policy

History and Background

Access to information is a fundamental right of citizens in a democratic society. Since 1912, the Monterey County Free Libraries system has been committed to providing free and open access to informational, educational, recreational and cultural resources for library users of all ages and backgrounds in Monterey County. Library information has been made available in a variety of formats to meet the needs and interests of the communities we serve. The Monterey County Free Libraries makes available a variety of electronic resources, including Internet access. Internet access at the Monterey County Free Libraries began through a California State Library InfoPeople grant program in 1991 and has been expanded through grants from this program and through donations from the Foundation for the Monterey County Free Libraries, local Friends of the Library groups and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The popularity and usefulness of the Internet has now made it a core service we offer at all branches. While effort is still made to seek funding through grant opportunities, the cost of services are now planned for in the library budget .

Why we have the Internet

  • Access to the Internet enables our libraries and patrons to expand their resources beyond the confines of our branch collections.

  • The Internet is a global electronic network that is diverse, unregulated, and constantly changing. It offers access to a wealth of material that is personally, professionally, educationally, and culturally enriching to individuals of all ages. Therefore, it is an essential addition to the library's services.

User Responsibilities

  • Individuals in the communities we serve have a wide variety of beliefs about what kind of information is appropriate for themselves and their families. Any restriction on access to Internet resources would exclude material valuable to many and fail to exclude all materials some users may find offensive. Also, not all Internet sources provide accurate or current information. The library does not monitor and has no control over the information accessed over the Internet and is not responsible for its content. Users are responsible for the choice of sites that they visit. Library access to the Internet does not imply Library sponsorship or endorsement of any material found on the Internet.

  • Library policy gives parents or guardians the right and responsibility to restrict their own children's use of library resources. Therefore, a child's access to the Internet is the responsibility of his or her parents. Parents should provide guidance to their own children. We encourage parents to read "Child Safety on the Information Superhighway" and "Teen Safety on the Internet" available on the Internet on various sites, including, http://www.safekids.com/child-safety-on-the-information-highway/ and http://www.safekids.com/teen-safety-on-info-highway/

  • As a public agency in a democratic society, the Monterey County Free Libraries system upholds and affirms the right of each individual to have access to constitutionally protected material. The Monterey County Free Libraries support the Library Bill of Rights, the Freedom to Read Statement, the Access to Digital Information, Services and Networks document, and the Freedom to View Statement of the American Library Association.

Guidelines for Computer Users at the Monterey County Free Libraries

  • Monterey County residents wishing to use the public access computers need to have a Monterey County Free Libraries library card. There are no fees for a library card and no fees to use the computers. Visitors may use the computers without a library card at the discretion of library staff.

  • Every library customer needs to sign up to use the computers.

  • Internet access/computer use is available during normal library open hours. Workstations and printers will be turned off 15-30 minutes before closing. Since printing can sometimes be slow, please do not start long print jobs near closing time.

  • Patrons of all ages may use any public access computer. However, in some branches where the workstations are in homework centers, these computers may not be available for general public use during certain times.

  • Due to limited staffing, Internet training is not available on a daily basis. Patrons needing basic training will be pointed to appropriate Internet tutorials or where classes may be taken or referred to an Internet volunteer if one is available. Questions regarding personal Internet searches will be handled as staff time allows. There will be times when such help is unavailable.

  • The Public Access Internet Policy and the "Guidelines for Computer Users at the Monterey County Free Libraries" will be posted near each workstation. Patrons will be expected to comply with the policy and abide by the guidelines.

  • Patrons may use the computer workstations for one hour per day. At peak times, computer use may be limited to smaller blocks of time. If no one is waiting, patrons may use the workstations longer at the discretion of library staff. Non-compliance with time limits could result in loss of computer privileges.

  • Generally, computer use is limited to one person at a time. At staff discretion and where warranted, more than one person may work at a computer station.

  • The cost of printing is 15 cents per page. If color printers are available, the cost is 50 cents per page.

  • Patrons may save any desired material to portable storage devices, such as USB drives. Patrons may not save to the hard drive for any reason.

  • Because of technical limitations, the Library does not provide local electronic mail accounts. However, use of free email sites via the Internet is allowed.

  • Use of personal software programs is not permitted. Users may not modify library hardware or software or change configurations. Any attempt to damage computer equipment, furniture, software or the stability or security of the workstation or its connection to the Internet is not allowed and may result in the loss of computer privileges and in serious cases it may lead to criminal prosecution.

  • Public libraries are public spaces shared by a diverse public. Many public access computer stations are in clear view of library staff and members of the public, including children. The Library cannot guarantee users' rights to confidentiality and privacy when using the Internet or working on the computers. Computer use requiring privacy should be done in another place.

  • Use of the computers to harass or annoy others will not be tolerated. Should a person using one of the workstations display items which cause a disruption in the library, the person using the workstation may be asked to clear the display. If the person does not comply, loss of computer privileges could be the result. In extreme situations, the person may be directed to leave the library or law enforcement may be called.

  • Any action in which a person uses a public access workstation to misrepresent him or herself could result in loss of Internet privileges. Users of library workstations may not use the Internet or library computers for any illegal activity or place any illegal material on the Internet or library computers. The Monterey County Free Libraries is not responsible for persons using its Internet service or computers for illegal activities.

  • Library staff may take appropriate actions to resolve problems which arise during use of the Library's computers and will enforce Library policies and guidelines. Infringement of these policies and guidelines could result in the loss of the privilege of using the Library's computers.

  • U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S. Code) prohibits the unauthorized reproduction or distribution of copyrighted materials, except as permitted by the principle of "fair use." This includes most electronic information sources. Users may not copy or distribute many electronic materials without the explicit permission of the copyright holder. If users knowingly and/or repeatedly violate copyright law, termination of Internet privileges will be the result. Users are responsible for any consequences of copyright infringement.