Electronic Information Access Policy (Internet)

PREAMBLE:

Electronic information and networking is a rapidly developing area of public and private activity. The library district recognizes that these developments pose new challenges as well as new opportunities for the library Board, the library staff, and library users and their families. The Board believes that these challenges and opportunities are best addressed by adherence to fundamental principles of traditional library use and the principles of a free society.

RESOURCES:

In order to meet the information needs of its constituents, FVRL provides access to electronic magazines, research databases and the Internet. The Internet provides vast communication and information services to patrons in public libraries. In providing electronic information, FVRL will consider such factors as the availability of electronic material, established selection criteria, user feedback, costs, and the effectiveness of the media to meet the information needs of the people and communities of the District.

CONFIDENTIALITY AND PRIVACY:

FVRL upholds the right of confidentiality and privacy for all library users. Thus, in order to protect the privacy of the user and the interests of other library patrons, the library will attempt to minimize unintentional viewing of the Internet via methods such as recessed computer screens, privacy screens, by judicious placement of the Internet workstations, or other appropriate means. Users are urged to respect the sensibilities of others when accessing information that may reasonably be offensive to others. However, absolute privacy for patrons using electronic resources in the library cannot be guaranteed. This is because there does exist a possibility of inadvertent viewing by other patrons, either by watching the user's screen, or because a user may leave the screen unattended.

ACCESS TO THE INTERNET:

There is no single organization to govern, control, or select information for the Internet. Because of freedom of information, the breadth of information on the Internet, the unstructured and unregulated nature of the Internet, and the imperfect state of filtering, FVRL cannot fully control the content of resources available on the Internet.

The library will provide training on electronic resources usage for patrons, as it does with other resources. It will also make available information to help parents and guardians in efforts to exercise their rights and responsibilities regarding their own children's use of electronic resources.

Internet access shall be as follows:

  1. Viewing of pornographic Web sites is prohibited in FVRL libraries.
  2. All FVRL computers with full Internet access shall be equipped with filtering software. The default filter setting shall be "basic filtered." The basic filter blocks pornographic Web sites.
  3. Minors (ages 17 and under). A minor in this age group may select or the parent or legal guardian of a minor in this age group may select for them "enhanced filtered" or no access as an alternative to the default of basic filtered access.
  4. Adults (ages 18 and over). Adults may select enhanced filtered access as an alternative to the default of basic filtered access.

"Basic filtered access" refers to commercially available software FVRL employs to block from view pornographic images. There is no assurance that such software will block all Internet sites that could be considered inappropriate or that sites acceptable for viewing by young children will not be inadvertently blocked.

"Enhanced filtered access" refers to commercially available software FVRL will employ to block from view pornographic images, and also other material that could be considered inappropriate for young children and that some patrons may choose to avoid. There is no assurance that such software will block all inappropriate Internet sites or that sites acceptable for viewing will not be inadvertently blocked.

APPEAL RIGHTS:

Internet users of any age may request access to a particular site that they feel has been inappropriately blocked. Decisions about whether to unblock a site will be in accordance with district guidelines.

COMPLIANCE:

The use of all library resources, including electronic resources, is voluntary. The Library does not select the material on the Internet and has no way to assure that only constitutionally protected material is available on the Internet. Access to, use of or dissemination of constitutionally unprotected (illegal) materials is unacceptable in the library. Use of FVRL computers for other unlawful purposes is also prohibited. Compliance with this policy is the responsibility of the user, or in the case of minors it is a joint responsibility of the user and the parent or guardian.

The Rules of Conduct Policy also applies to the use of electronic equipment and resources and is available on the library's Web site. Failure to follow the Policy on Rules of Conduct may be cause for the library to deny permission to enter its facilities for a time specified by library staff. In cases of threatening behavior or illegal activities, the police will be called.

FVRL staff is expected to apply district policies in a fair, reasonable and positive manner. Individual patrons who question the way a policy has been applied may use the process described in the Appeal Rights policy.

IMPLEMENTATION:

The Board has delegated implementation of this Policy to its Executive Director who reports and answers to the Board.

ONGOING ACTION:

Electronic information and networking is a developing field. The library district staff and the Board will continue to monitor these developments to meet the information needs of our patrons. The filter will be audited on a semi-annual basis to determine if it continues to comply with this Policy and achieves a minimal acceptable level of overblocking and/or underblocking.

Adopted by the Board of Trustees August 10, 1998
Policy Revised: October 14, 2002
Policy name revised for easier indexing, 2/10/03 (formerly titled Access to Electronic Information Policy)
Policy Revised: November 17, 2003
Policy Revised: April 11, 2006