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Gaines County Library System

Gaines County Library Internet Safety Policy

Approved by Gaines County Commissioners Court June 28, 2010

The Gaines County Library provides access to the Internet as one means of fulfilling its mission for patrons to "…find, evaluate and use this information in a variety of formats; to get answers to their questions and better understand…"  [Mission Statement approved by Gaines County Commissioners on September 8, 2008]. All Internet resources accessible through the Library are provided equally to all users, with the understanding that it is the individual user's responsibility to demonstrate judgment, respect for others, and appropriate conduct while using the public library's resources and facilities.

Internet computers will not be used by anyone, including minors, for illegal activity, to access illegal materials, or to access materials that by local community standards would be inappropriate. Library employees are authorized to take prompt and appropriate actions to enforce the “Rules of Conduct”, and / or to prohibit use by individuals who fail to comply with the Internet Safety Policy as stated or implied herein. Parents are responsible for their minor children's use of the Library's resources and facilities. Parents who believe that their minor children cannot responsibly use the Library's internet access are requested to monitor their children's Internet use.

Children’s Access to Electronic Information Networks
The Gaines County Library supports the right of all Library users to access information and will not deny access to electronic information networks based solely on age. Persons under the age of 10 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian while using Library equipment or computers.

This Library recognizes that the electronic information networks such as the Internet may contain material that is inappropriate for children. Parents are expected to monitor and supervise their children’s use of the Internet. Library staff is unable to monitor children’s use. Parents are encouraged to discuss with their children issues of appropriate use and electronic information network safety.

Filtering Software
The Gaines County Library has installed a filtering software product on all Internet access computers. The Library supports the right and responsibility of parents to direct the use of the Internet by their own children, and provides limited filtered access on all Internet access computers. The filtering software product may restrict access to sites that could be deemed objectionable, but may also restrict access to sites with legitimate research value. No filtering system is completely effective or efficient. Users are warned that objectionable and / or illegal materials may still be accessible through filtering software. Users are reminded that they are responsible for acting in accordance with "The Rules of Conduct." Access via filtering software has been provided, but library staff will not require that children utilize filtered search engines for their research. Disabling the technology protection measure for adult users for the purpose of bona fide research is acceptable. The determination of "Harmful to minors" and bona fide research is the responsibility of the Library Administration.

The Gaines County Library cannot control the content of resources available on the Internet and cannot be held responsible for its content. The Internet offers open access to information, ideas, and commentary from around the world in an unregulated medium. As such, it offers access to a wealth of material that is personally, professionally, and culturally enriching to individuals of all ages, but also enables access to some materials that some may find offensive, disturbing and / or illegal, inaccurate or incomplete. The availability of information does not constitute endorsement of the content by the Gaines County Library. The Internet, as an information resource, enables the Library to provide information beyond the confines of its own collection. Library users use it at their own risk. Use of Internet resources carries with it a responsibility to evaluate the quality of the information accessed. Access, use, or dissemination of information via the Internet in the Library is the responsibility of the user. In the case of minors, it is a joint responsibility of the user and the parent or guardian. The public library, unlike schools, does not serve in place of a parent. Librarians cannot act in the place of parents in providing constant care and supervision of children as they explore the Internet. The responsibility for what minors read or view on the Internet rests with parents or guardians.  (See Guidance for Supervising Children's Use section in this document).

The Gaines County Library seeks to protect the First Amendment rights of its users and their individual right to privacy. However, Internet users must be sensitive to the fact that workstations in public areas and, therefore, images on the screen are subject to view by a wide audience. In order to protect the privacy of the user and the interests of other Library users, the Library will manage access to the Internet by judicious placement of the terminals, and other appropriate means. Users are urged to respect the sensibilities of others when accessing information that may reasonably be offensive to someone else. However, absolute privacy for individuals using electronic resources in the Library cannot be guaranteed. There exists a possibility of inadvertent viewing by others, either by watching the user's screen, or because a user might leave the screen unattended.  The "Rules of Conduct" applies to the behavior of individuals using electronic equipment and resources. Failure to follow this policy could result in the loss of computer privileges. 

Users are cautioned that the Internet is not a secure environment. Personal information included in all transactions, files and communications may be subject to unauthorized access by third parties. 

The Gaines County Library respects the confidentiality of those using its electronic resources and will release records only as required by law or for the Library's operations. 

Acceptable Use
 Internet access computers may be used to access a variety of electronic
      communications resources including email and chat rooms. Although the Library
      does not provide email accounts to users, Internet access computers may be used
      to access free email accounts available from a variety of sources. Users, including
      minors, are warned that other individuals may obtain unauthorized access to
      personal information and / or may misrepresent themselves. Users, including
      minors, are advised not to share personal identification information to unknown
      or otherwise unverified sources via electronic communication.
2.  Internet access computers may be used to access games.  
3. The Library's Internet access computers may not be used by ANY user to access
      inappropriate or illegal materials, including but not limited to materials of an
      obscene nature or child pornography. In addition, minors are prohibited from
      accessing materials considered to be "Harmful to minors".
4. The Library's Internet access computers may be used to access information,
      except as otherwise specified as unacceptable, from a variety of sources such as
      educational or commercial. The user is the selector of the material accessed and is
      therefore the responsible party. The user is responsible for complying with all
      restrictions governing access to specific sites. Any fees are the responsibility of
      the user, not the Library. In the case of minors, fees are the fiscal responsibility of
      the parent or guardian. In no event shall the Gaines County Library have any
      liability for lost profits or for any direct or indirect special, punitive, or
      consequential damages, or any liability to a third party. 

Rules of Conduct
Internet computers will not be used for illegal activity, to access illegal materials,
        or to access materials that by local community standards would be objectionable.
        Illegal materials include, but are not limited to, obscenity and child pornography 
        as defined in U.S. Code Title 18 and State Penal Code Chapters 42 and 43.
        Access by  minors to materials deemed "Harmful to minors" is prohibited. Library
        Administration reserves the right to determine, based on community standards,
        materials considered to be "Harmful to minors".
  2.  Downloading information is acceptable only onto a flash drive, CD, etc.
  3.  Users will respect copyright laws and licensing agreements. Materials obtained
        or copied on the Internet may be subject to laws that govern making
        reproductions of copyrighted works. A work protected by copyright may not be
        copied without permission of the copyright owner unless the proposed used falls
        within the definition of "Fair Use". Customers are responsible for compliance
        with all international, national and state laws governing copyrighted materials.
  4.  Users will not make any attempt to misuse the computer. Misuse includes, but is
        not limited to, using the computer for illegal activities, hacking into the Library
        computer system or any other computer system, damaging or attempting to
        damage computer equipment or software, interfering with systems operations,
        integrity or security, gaining unauthorized access to another person's files,
        sending harassing messages to other computer users, altering or attempting to
        alter the Library's computer settings, and violating copyright laws and software
        licensing agreements. Misuse of the computer may result in the loss of computer
        privileges and possible prosecution. Damages resulting from the misuse are the
        responsibility of the user or, in the case of minors, the parent or guardian.
  5.  Prompt payment is required by users who incur charges for printing or
        authorized fees.
  6.  Users must sign up to use the Internet on a next-available-computer
        basis. Telephone reservations will not be taken.
  7.  Access sessions will be limited to 60 minutes, unless otherwise authorized by the
        Librarian in Charge.
  8.  Users will end their session and leave the computer when asked to do so by
        authorized Library staff, even if they have not completed their access session.
  9.  Users will respect the privacy of other Library users, and will refrain from
        attempting to view or read material being used by others. Users are prohibited
        from the unauthorized disclosure, use, or dissemination of personal information
        of others. Users are prohibited from misrepresenting themselves to
        others. Users, including minors, are warned that other individuals may obtain
        unauthorized access to personal information and / or may misrepresent
10.  The library limits access to one – two person(s) per computer. 

Termination or Prohibition of User Access
When Library employees believe that the user has failed to comply with the Internet Safety Policy and / or the “Rules of Conduct”, they are authorized to terminate any user's access session or to prohibit a user from subsequent access sessions for up to one (1) month from the date of informing the user of that action. After a hearing before the Library's administrative authority, a Library user may be permanently barred from Internet access in the Library. Users are advised that due process will be used to handle violations of an illegal nature, including criminal prosecution, if necessary.

Internet users whose access has been terminated or prohibited will be given information concerning the process to protest the action and / or request that Internet access privileges be reinstated. 

Temporary or permanent denial of Internet privileges at Gaines County Library is effective at all Gaines County Library facilities.

– If you have identified specific users in other policy, then provide reference:
1.  Library cardholder – eligible resident of the state of Texas with an active Gaines
      County Library card.
2.  Non-resident – individual not residing in the state of Texas and therefore unable
      to obtain a Gaines County Library card, unless the one-time $10 fee is paid.
3.  Adult – any individual who has reached the age of 18.
4.  Minor – any individual who has not yet reached the age of 18.
5.  Staff – any Library employee designated by Library Administration to perform the
      daily functions involved in the operation of the Library.

Guidance for Supervising Children's Use
The public library, unlike schools, does not serve in place of a parent. Librarians cannot act in the place of parents in providing constant care and supervision of children as they explore the Internet. The responsibility for what minors read or view on the Internet rests with the parent or guardian.

The following are recommended guidelines for parents and guardians to ensure that children have positive online experiences, whether at home or in the library.
1.  Use the Internet as a family. Join your children in Internet exploration.
2.  Explore the wide range of available information and tell your children about sites
      you consider appropriate for them.
3.  Encourage children to use sites recommended on the Library's homepage and
      counsel them to avoid sites you consider unsuitable.
4.  Provide guidelines for your children on the amount of time they spend online just
      as for television viewing.
5.  Instruct children NEVER to give out personal information (name, address,
      password, telephone number, credit card number) online.
6.  Teach children to be good online consumers. As with print information, consider
      the source, date,  and accuracy of online information.