Child Safety in Public Libraries

Lake County Public Library values children as evidenced in library materials, services and resources offered specifically for children.

Children and their safety are of great concern to Lake County Public Library.

We encourage families and their children to use our libraries, yet we also support parents’ or caregivers’ responsibility for their children’s safety and upbringing. Children, like all library patrons, are expected to behave appropriately. Parents and caregivers, not library staff, are responsible for the behavior and supervision of their children in the library. (see Library Rules of Conduct)

PUBLIC AREAS

Anyone can enter and leave the building without supervision by the library staff. Parents and caregivers must be reminded that libraries are public places. In libraries, as in all public places, "stranger danger" is a real concern.

Library staff cannot prevent children from interacting with or leaving the library with persons who are not appropriate caregivers.

In any situation, parents or caregivers are influenced by various factors whether it is appropriate for a child to be alone in a library, unattended by a responsible caregiver. These factors include:

Library staff cannot verify the ages of children who come into the facility. If a well-behaved five-year-old plays quietly in a part of the library, staff may not notice that she is unattended. Also, depending on the circumstances, an eight-year-old may require less supervision than a 14-year-old or a disruptive adult.

LIBRARY CLOSINGS

If the library is closing, at the regular time or in an emergency situation, and an unattended child is left at the library without transportation home, Library Staff will allow the child to call home to remind their parents to pick them up. If the child is unable to contact their parents, Library Staff will remain no longer than 15 minutes after closing. At that time, local law authorities will be contacted and the child will be placed in their care. Under no circumstances shall a staff member drive a child home.

Exceptions to this policy occur when programming requires children to attend on their own. At these times, children should be brought to the meeting room door prior to the program and be met outside the door at its conclusion.

Parents are responsible for the conduct of minor children (under 18 years of age) in the library or on library grounds, regardless of whether they accompany their children or not.

LIBRARY MATERIALS

In selecting books for children, the Library’s objective is to present a collection that satisfies the informational, recreational, and cultural reading needs and potentials of children from infancy through eighth grade. Books are included which meet the general demands of the majority of children along with books whose special qualities make them valuable to children with special needs, talents, problems, or interests. (see Selection Policy for Children’s Materials - Official Memos Available Upon Request)

The library is not responsible for a minor’s selection of library materials. The library believes it is the right and responsibility of a parent or guardian to determine what is appropriate material in order to meet personal family standards and guidelines. Therefore, parents are encouraged to accompany their children and to select material with their children or review their children’s selections.

Parents are encouraged to participate in their child’s choice of reading and in their literacy discovery adventures. Lake County Public Library endorses Every Child Ready to Read program (see Parent Guide, Every Child Ready to Read) and offers programs and resources that are age appropriate for children.

MEETING ROOMS

Library meeting rooms are primarily used for library related activities and other events co-sponsored by the library.  These activities receive priority above other groups who wish to reserve a meeting room. In all cases, an adult Lake County Public Library cardholder in good standing must take responsibility for the group's use of the room, equipment and conduct of members by signing a reservation and use agreement.  He or she must be present at the library before staff will open the meeting room to the group, and he or she must be present throughout the scheduled meeting.

Children and youth groups are required to use the meeting rooms under adult supervision. All meetings must be open to the public. Library programs will take precedence over all other activities.  (see Meeting Room Policy)

PRIVATE TUTORING

Library premises are available for the use of members of the public to meet their needs in accessing information. As part of its educational mission, the library permits tutoring.

Independent tutors are not sponsored by the library. All arrangements must be made between the tutor, student, and parents.

It is preferred that the parent remain in the Library while the child is tutored. The Library assumes no responsibility for children left unattended.

Use of Study Rooms: Photo Identification is required for Study Room registration.

Tutors are asked to observe the following guidelines when tutoring in the Library:


KEEPING CHILDREN SAFE ONLINE

The responsibility for minors' use of computers and the Internet rests with their parents or guardians. The Library does not serve in loco parentis (in place of a parent) like public schools do. Library staff do not act in place of parents providing constant care and supervision of children using library computers.

The Library provides training on computer basics and the Internet and recommends sites suitable for children, which are included on the Children's Department pages of the Library website.

The Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) is a federal law enacted by Congress to address concerns about access to offensive content over the Internet on school and library computers. At Lake county Public Library we address these concerns using visual observation by staff to the extent practical, and the use of filtering software. Due to the filtering software some sites may end up being blocked even though they contain no objectionable material. The library has established procedures to request unblocking of individual sites.

The Library recommends that parents discuss the following rules for online safety with their children before permitting them to use the Internet. Lake County Public Library recommends parents and caregivers adhere to www.netsmartz.org guidelines.

Recommended by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children:

(see Computer Use Policy)