Internet at the Library
The Internet may contain material of a controversial nature. It is the responsibility of parents to monitor their children's Internet activities.
The following policy was adopted by the Board of Trustees at a meeting held on September 23, 2002.
The Board of Trustees of the Half Hollow Hills Community Library recognizes that computers and the Internet are essential components of the library’s mission to facilitate and encourage the unrestrained pursuit and exchange of knowledge, ideas, expression, experience and opinion. They further recognize that a library that limits access to information undermines its credibility with the community it serves. By making information available and accessible, libraries enable individuals to exercise their First Amendment right to seek and receive information and ideas without review or censorship by government.
The Internet offers access to many valuable sources of information and ideas. However, it is a fluid environment with constantly changing content and format. Much of the information available on the Internet may be inaccurate, incomplete and dated and many of the ideas and materials one encounters may be offensive or harmful to some members of our community, particularly children.
The Trustees do not endorse the viewpoints or vouch for the information available from the Internet. Nor do the Trustees monitor or control what information or ideas are accessible. Therefore, neither the Trustees nor the library staff can be held responsible for the material available on the Internet through the Library’s computers and the Internet access provided by the Suffolk Cooperative Library System SuffolkWeb System.
The Trustees recognize and support the constitutional rights of adults to decide what material to view on the Internet within the confines of their homes or other areas where there is an expectation of privacy. A patron who uses a public computer in a public library should not have a similar expectation of privacy, particularly when the information displayed on the computer screen can be viewed by other patrons and library staff, even with a privacy screen.
The New York State Legislature in enacting New York’s obscenity laws and numerous courts when interpreting such laws have recognized the important role community standards play in defining what material is obscene or of a sexually offensive or harmful nature. The Trustees are confident that by employing such standards they and the library staff can determine whether material displayed on a public library computer screen by an adult or accessed by a minor is obscene or harmful.
It is, therefore, the intention of the Board of Trustees to enact a policy which seeks to prohibit the public viewing, display or distribution from library computers of sexually explicit, obscene materials or materials harmful to minors. The use of library computers and Internet access for unlawful purposes shall also be prohibited. To the extent possible the confidentiality of all users of library computers shall be protected. However, enforcement of this policy will necessitate that the library staff record the name of patrons who utilize library computers to access the Internet from library facilities. Moreover, in order to enforce this policy the Trustees authorize the Library Director to permit staff or SCLS personnel to monitor or track sites visited or material downloaded by a user when there is reasonable cause to believe this policy is being violated.
Notwithstanding the Trustees and library staff’s best efforts to develop and enforce this policy it is up to the individual adult user to determine what is appropriate to view on the Internet and for parents and guardians to determine what is appropriate for their minor children.
This policy is based on the premise that what is prohibited and regulated is the public display or distribution of obscene or harmful materials by adults and the access to such material by minors. This policy does not seek to regulate the private viewing of such material by adults.
In enacting this policy the Trustees have not diminished their commitment to each citizen’s right to unrestrained access to knowledge, ideas and thought. The policy does not seek to regulate content but does seek to place reasonable restraints on the public display or distribution of certain materials by adults or the viewing of such material by minors.
In developing this policy the Trustees have been guided by the following American Library Association statements on access to information: The Library Bill of Rights, The Freedom to Read Statement, ALA and Filtering, Guidelines and Considerations for Developing a Public Library Internet Use Policy.
The Board of Trustees therefore enacts the following policy regarding the use of library computers:
- Use of any library computer
to display, print, transmit or distribute any obscene or sexually
explicit material or material harmful to minors is prohibited;
- Obscene or sexually explicit
material is defined as text, pictures or sound which the average
adult applying contemporary community standards would find primarily
appeals to a prurient interest in sex and lacks serious literary,
artistic, political or scientific value;
- Material harmful to minors
is defined as material which includes descriptions or representations
of nudity, sexual content, or sexual excitement that appeal
to the prurient, shameful, or morbid interest of minors and
are patently offensive to the prevailing standards in the adult
community as a whole with respect to what is suitable for minors
and which lack serious literary, artistic, political or scientific
value for minors;
- Any individual using Library
computers may not make unauthorized disclosure, use or dissemination
of personal identification information regarding any minors;
- Library staff shall have the
right to terminate the use of any computer which is used in
violation of this policy;
- Before terminating the use
of a computer used in violation of this policy the user of the
computer shall be asked to remove the offending material from
the screen or delete or dispose of the offending material and
be advised of his or her right to appeal the determination that
such material is obscene, sexually explicit or harmful to minors
to the Board of Trustees;
- A patron who wishes to appeal
shall print out or preserve the offending material or record
the web site or address and provide such material or address
together with their name, mailing address and phone number to
the staff member. The patron who desires to appeal shall within
15 days mail or deliver a written request to appeal to the Board
- Upon receipt of the request
for review the appealing party shall be notified of the next
regularly scheduled meeting of the Board of Trustees and his
or her right to attend and be heard by the Board;
- At such meeting the Trustees
shall, after review of the material and any presentation by
the appealing party, determine if such material is obscene or
- Prior to using any library
computer to access the Internet all users shall be required
to indicate their agreement to adhere to this policy;
- Installation, downloading
or modification of software is prohibited;
- Users will respect copyright
laws and licensing agreements;
- Users will not make any attempt
to gain unauthorized access to restricted files or networks
or to damage or modify computer equipment, files or software.
Users who damage computers or computer programs through careless
treatment, or in an attempt to make an unauthorized copy, will
be charged the replacement cost of the damaged program, and/or
the repair cost of the computer.
- Use of the Internet on Library
computers by minor children will require a separate signed permission
slip by a parent/guardian. Children under the age of five (5)
must be accompanied by an adult when using a Library computer.
- Any adult Half Hollow Hills
Community Library card holder in good standing, eighteen years
of age or older, may apply for an Internet (SuffolkWeb) account.
The applicant may be asked show proof of age.
- Parents are required to apply
in person for SuffolkWeb accounts for their children under 18
years of age. Parents assume responsibility to monitor the Internet
activity of their minor children.
- 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
links to web sites for children and teens;
- Links to Internet
Safety materials on the Internet for children, teens
and their parents.
- Loss of "library card
holder in good standing" status will result in the cancellation
of a patronís Internet (SuffolkWeb) account.
- Half Hollow Hills Community
Library and the Suffolk Cooperative Library System assume no
responsibility for the content, quality, accuracy or currency
of information obtained through the Internet.
- Account holders are responsible
for the proper use of their Internet (SuffolkWeb) accounts and
for understanding and complying with the Suffolk County Cooperative
Library Systemís "Acceptable Use Policy". Failure
to comply may result in the cancellation of an individualís
- Accounts are not transferable;
patrons will be held responsible if their accounts are accessed
and misused by others.
- Sending messages simultaneously
to multiple lists for the transmittal of chain letters, advertisements,
or other mass solicitation (spamming) is grounds for suspension
of Internet privileges.
- Any userís traffic which crosses
another network may be subject to that networkís acceptable
- Attempts to degrade, destroy
or otherwise disrupt SuffolkWeb performance are prohibited.
- As this Internet service does
not have unlimited capacity, please be courteous to other users
when accessing the service from home or at the Library, and
observe the following guidelines.
- Limit use to one hour.
- Delete e-mail promptly
or save to a folder.
- Keep your directory
clean. Save files to a floppy disk.
- Log-off the system before
editing and printing downloaded files.
- Prospective users of Internet
stations in the Library may be required to attend an orientation
or sign a waiver stating that they have a thorough knowledge
of how to use the Internet.
- Internet stations are available
in the Library on a first come, first serve basis. Use of an
Internet station is limited to one hour if others are waiting.
Residents of the Half Hollow Hills library district are given
- Printing is permitted; copying
charges are posted.
- The Suffolk Cooperative Library
System acting as administrator of SuffolkWeb reserves the right
- Remove the account of any
user who does not adhere to the policy described above.
- Remove any account which
has not been used in six months.
- Notify any user that he/she
is using a disproportionate share of disk space and that his/her
immediate downloading or deletion of files is necessary.
- Delete files from any userís
account if that user, once notified, has failed to clean his/her
directory within one week of notification.
- Users are required to adhere
to all policies stipulated in SuffolkWeb user manuals.
Approved by the Board, September 23, 2002