Our Policies

The following are guidelines for conduct and behavior, Internet access and children in the library.

Conduct and Behavior

Adopted February 26, 2004
Sara Hightower Regional Library
Board of Trustees

The Sara Hightower Regional Library System strives to provide an atmosphere that is conducive to the appropriate use of library services and resources. Use of the library is intended to be for reading, studying, writing and listening to written or electronically transmitted materials and information. The public is required to comply with the library system use and behavior guidelines. All users and staff have the right to a safe and comfortable environment, as well as facilities and materials which are in good condition.

Behavior and/or actions which are considered to be disruptive and/or unsafe are prohibited on library property. These may include:

  • Any loud, unreasonable, and/or disruptive noises created by persons, radios, tape players or other sound devices. Engaging in disorderly conduct, fighting or challenging a fight, or using offensive language that is likely to provoke violence. Repetitive noise making; such as tapping a pencil on the table, rapping fingers or knuckles; slamming books down; slapping the covers of books, etc. Running in or around the library.
  • Playing on the elevator.
  • Exhibiting offensive personal hygiene, bringing in large bundles or personal possessions (for example: items too large to fit under a study chair), failure to wear appropriate clothing or the failure to secure clothes with buttons, zippers or other devices. Sleeping or laying your head on a table. Placing your feet or legs on furniture.
  • Misusing or abusing furniture.
  • Bringing animals or pets in the library (except guide dogs for the physically impaired).
  • Following a person around the library, staring at a person, or persistently asking a person questions.
  • Distributing or posting printed material / literature that has not been approved by the library system. Soliciting for money or items or services. Panhandling or loitering inside the library or in parking lot or on library grounds.
  • Cell phone use.
  • Leaving children unattended who are under the age of twelve or who require supervision.
  • Leaving a child or young adult (up to the age of 17) on library property after closing time.
  • Misuse of restrooms. Restrooms are for library patron use only. Changing of clothes and bathing in restrooms is not permitted.
  • Taking library materials into the bathrooms.
  • Carrying weapons of any type.
  • Entering non-public areas such as staff workrooms, break room, offices, and storage areas.
  • Skateboarding, rollerblading, or bicycling in the parking lot, garden or around the perimeter of the library building.
  • Certain acts involving computer fraud or abuse of library system network computers or display of obscene materials on computer equipment (covered under the Georgia Computer Services Protection Act and punishable by fine, imprisonment or both).
  • Library materials must be properly checked out at the circulation desk. Certain materials, such as reference items, may not be removed from the library. Willful concealment and/or unauthorized removal of library property are violations of Georgia Law. (GA Code 20-5-54) Bringing food or beverages into the library. Intoxication and/or use of tobacco, alcohol or illegal substances. (GA Code 16-12-2, 16-11-41) Damage, destruction, theft or improper use of library property or facilities. (GA Code 20-5-52).
  • The library reserves the right to inspect all bags, briefcases, backpacks, containers, books and any similar items.
  • The library reserves the right to require anyone violating these rules of conduct to leave the library. The library may withdraw permission to re-enter library facilities for serious or repeated misconduct.
  • Communication of threats, physical violence or sexual misconduct (indecent exposure, unwelcome touching, or sexual harassment toward staff or patrons) will result in permanent exclusion from the library and notification to law enforcement authorities.
  • Engaging in any other illegal acts or conduct in violation of Federal, State or local law, ordinance or regulation will result in notification to law enforcement authorities.

Any person who disregards a request by a staff member and/or security guard to leave the building will be immediately reported to the local law enforcement agency.

Internet Use Guidelines

In response to advances in technology and the changing needs of the community, the Sara Hightower Regional Library endeavors to develop collections, resources, and services that meet the cultural, informational, recreational, and educational needs of Rome’s diverse, multicultural community. It is within this context that the library offers access to the Internet.
The Sara Hightower Regional Library has no control over the information accessed through the Internet and cannot be held responsible for its content. The Internet is a global entity with a highly diverse user population and library patrons use it at their own risk.

Parents or guardians, NOT the library or its staff, are responsible for the Internet information selected and/or accessed by their children. Parents are requested to supervise their children’s Internet sessions.

Staff Assistance

Library staff cannot provide in-depth training concerning Internet computer jargon or personal computers use. We will attempt to offer searching suggestions and answer very basic questions concerning in-house use. Internet-trained staff may not always be available.

Have fun exploring the Internet, but please remember that many times you will find the specific information you need right here in books, periodicals, etc.

  1. Sign in to use the Internet on any public computer with your valid library card and PIN/Password. By signing in, you are stating that you have read and agree to the policies and guidelines as outlined here.
  2. Cell phone use is not permitted in the Internet Resource Area of the library.
  3. Internet terminals are available:
    • Monday – Thursday: 8:30am – 8:15pm
    • Friday: Closed
    • Saturday: 10:00am – 4:45pm
    • Sunday: Closed
  4. Use of the Internet computers is controlled with PC Reservation and patrons can reserve a computer using the reservation station or by asking staff to reserve one for you.
  5. You may use an Internet email provider (such as hotmail.com) to access email within the library.
  6. You may not use your own software programs on the Internet computers.
  7. You will need to ask a library employee when you wish to save files. Only flash drives and the sharetemp are available for downloading or saving files. (This will minimize risk of virus being passed from one computer to another.)
  8. You must pay for all copies you make, even those made inadvertently. Black and white copies are .15 cents per page and .75 cents for color prints. Payment is made at the Reference Desk.
  9. You may not be able to always go to the places on the Internet that you want to visit. Some explanations follow:
    • There are too many Internet users and the host computer closes access until some users logoff.
    • The database or resource is licensed to authorized users only.
    • The host computer has changed its address or closed down.
    • The library’s Internet connection may be having technical difficulties.
  10. Users must end their session and leave the terminal when asked to do so by authorized library staff.
  11. Users shall respect the privacy of other users and shall refrain from attempting to view or read material being used by others, as well as to censor or comment on what others are viewing.
  12. The first misuse of the computer or Internet access will result in loss of your Internet privileges for 1 calendar year. The second misuse of the computer or Internet access will result in permanent loss of Internet privileges. Misuse includes but is not limited to:
    • Using or viewing profanity, obscenity or language which may be offensive to another user.
    • Copying commercial software in violation of copyright laws.
    • Using Internet computers for any illegal activity.
    • Deliberate attempts to degrade or disrupt the system’s performance.
    • Destruction of or damage to equipment, software or data belonging to the Library or other users.
    • Disruption or unauthorized monitoring of electronic communication.
    • Transmitting and/or receiving obscene materials and/or child pornography is a violation of law and is not permitted under any circumstances. Violation of this rule will subject a patron to criminal prosecution and result in immediate and permanent loss of library Internet access privileges.
    • Minors, whether or not accompanied by a parent or guardian, shall not use computers for any illegal activity, or to access illegal materials, child pornography, obscene materials, or materials “harmful to minors” as currently defined by law. Violations of this rule may subject a patron to criminal prosecution and will result in immediate loss of library Internet access privileges.
    • Violation of software license agreements.
    • Disruptive behavior at any computer workstation by individuals or groups.
    • Downloading or saving files to any disk other than that purchased from the Internet Resource Center (to insure no virus is on the diskette).
    • Refusing to pay for any copies initiated from the Internet workstation you are using.

Right of Appeal

An Internet user whose access session has been terminated or whose Internet access has been prohibited shall have the right to appeal and/or request that Internet access privileges be reinstated. An appeal must be in writing and submitted to the Library Director within five days of the termination or prohibition. Within ten days of receipt of the appeal, the Library Director shall review the matter and notify the patron in writing of his/her decision. If the Library Director’s decision is adverse to the patron, the patron may appeal in writing within five days to the Library’s Board of Trustees, which shall thereafter consider the matter and issue its decision in writing within 30 days of receipt. No further appeals shall be considered. Temporary or permanent denial of Internet privileges at any Library System facility will be effective at all Library System facilities.

Definitions:

  1. “Minor” is a person under 18 years of age. O.C.G.A. 16-12-102(3)
  2. “Harmful to minors” is defined as per current Georgia law, O.C.G.A. 16-12-102.
  3. “Inappropriate matter” for minors is material that is obscene as defined under Georgia law (O.C.G.A. 16-12-80), child pornography as defined under federal and/or state law (18 U.S.C. 2256; O.C.G.A. 16-12-100), and material that is “harmful to minors” as defined in Georgia law (O.C.G.A. 16-12-102).

Warnings

  1. Although the library uses a virus-checker on computers, this will not completely protect you from the chance of getting a virus. Software downloaded from the Internet may contain a virus. You need to have virus-checking software on your computer. The Sara Hightower Regional Library is not responsible for damage to a patron’s disk or computer, or for any loss of data, damage, or liability that may occur from patron use of the library’s computers.
  2. Not all sources on the Internet provide accurate, complete, or current information. You need to be a good information consumer, questioning validity or the information you find.
  3. “Guidelines for Online Safety of Minors” is found in attachment A.
  4. Special rules relating to use of the Internet Terminals located in the reference area are found in attachment B.
  5. Detailed procedure for reconsideration of Internet use and the Reconsideration Form are found in attachment C. Internet Access Guidelines Policy Approved February 22, 1996 Amended May 24, 2001

Attachment A
Guidelines for Online Safety of Minors

In an effort to protect the safety and security of minors when using email, chat rooms and other forms of direct electronic communications, we ask that minors agree to the following:

  • I will not give out personal information such as my address, telephone number, parents’ work address/telephone number, or the name and location of my school without my parents’ permission.
  • I will tell the Library Staff right away if I come across any information that makes me feel uncomfortable.
  • I will never agree to get together with someone I “meet” online without first checking with my parents. If my parents agree to the meeting, I will be sure that it is in a public place and bring my mother or father along.
  • I will never send a person my picture or anything else without first checking with my parents.
  • I will not respond to any messages that are mean or in any way make me feel uncomfortable. It is not my fault if I get a message like that. If I do, I will tell my parents right away so that they can contact the online service.
  • I will talk with my parents so that we can set up rules for going online. We will decide upon the time of day that I can be online, the length of time I can be online, and appropriate areas for me to visit. I will not access other areas or break these rules.

For further information on child safety, please call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).

Attachment B
Rule for the Internet express machines in the Reference Department

  1. The Internet express machines for email mainly but limited to 20 minute sessions which do count against your total of three per day.
  2. No chat room, E-mail, or recreational (i.e. games, music, videos, etc.) activities will be allowed at the Reference Department terminals.
  3. Use of Reference workstations will be restricted to 30 minutes.
  4. Additional time will be considered on a case-to-case basis if it is determined by library staff that additional time is necessary to complete research activities.

Attachment C
Procedure for reconsideration of Loss of Internet use.

The Library will reconsider any written request from a patron regarding Internet use. The request procedure is as follows:

  1. The staff member receiving the complaint will prepare a written statement detailing the interchange with the patron. The written statement and the completed patron’s form will be given to the Library Director within five (5) working days.
  2. The Library Director or designee will investigate and a written report of the findings will be written within ten (10) working days.
  3. At the same time that the complaint is sent to the Library Director for investigation, a copy of the complaint will be given to the members of the Trustees Executive Board, as a matter of information.
  4. After careful consideration, the Library Director will notify the complainant of the recommended action.
  5. At the same time that the complainant is notified of the library’s recommendation, the Trustees Executive Board will receive copies.
  6. The complainant will be given the opportunity to appeal the recommendation of the library to the Board of Trustees. The complainant will be notified of this option in writing at the time the library’s recommendation is sent to said complainant. (See Item 4).
  7. If a request for an appeal is filed with the Board of Trustees within ten (10) working days, the Board will refer the complaint to the standing Policies and Overview Committee.
  8. Within thirty (30) working days of receipt of the complaint, all members of the Committee will review the matter is question. The Committee will meet to reach a consensus recommendation as to the disposition of the questioned matter.
  9. At the next regularly schedule or called Board meeting, the Committee reports its recommendation concerning the disposition of the complaint to the entire Board.
  10. The Board can either accept the Committee’s recommendations, or decide to take the matter under the scrutiny of the entire Board. If the latter is decided, the decision will be tabled until the next meeting of the Board.
  11. The Board will then inform the Director of its decision concerning the matter in question, and the Director will act in accordance with that decision and notify the complainant.
  12. The decision of the board will be final.

Children in the Library

Adopted by the Sara Hightower Regional Library Board of Trustees
Adopted: August 24, 2006

The Sara Hightower Regional Library system is dedicated to providing a warm, welcoming, exciting, and safe environment for people of all ages. Sharing this environment with other people requires that all follow the rules of conduct of the library system established by the Board of Trustees and posted in each library building.

The Sara Hightower Regional Library wants children to use its facilities and services. The public library is not a childcare provider but a public institution where all users have an equal right to quality library services in a safe and relaxed environment.

Children in the library always should be accompanied by a parent/guardian or assigned caregiver.

When children are left alone, they may become frightened or anxious. If they wander through the building, they may encounter hazards, such as stairs, doors, furniture, or electrical equipment. They may become bored and restless and could disturb the enjoyment and work of others. The safety of children left alone in a library building is a serious concern of library staff. The responsibility for the safety and behavior of children in the library rests with the parent/caregiver and not with library personnel.

Parents should be aware that the library is a public building which is open for everyone’s use. Library staff cannot be responsible for children who are unattended or are demonstrating inappropriate behavior.

The following guidelines will be followed concerning the care and behavior of young library users:

  • Children through age 6 must have a parent/caregiver in the immediate vicinity of the child.
  • The assigned caregiver must be at least 16 years old and must carry emergency contact information.
  • An exception would be children attending a story time or other library program without a parent/caregiver in the room.
  • However, the parent/caregiver must remain in the library building and immediately join the child at the end of the program.
  • If a child in this age group is found unattended, library staff will attempt to locate the parent/caregiver in the library and inform him/her of library rules.
  • If the parent/caregiver is not found in the library, law enforcement personnel will be asked to pick up the child.
  • If a child in this age group violates library rules, the child and parent/caregiver will be informed of library rules.
  • If inappropriate behavior continues, the family may be asked to leave the library at that time. Children ages 7 through 11 may use the library on their own, but the parent/caregiver must be in the building and are still responsible for the actions of their children.

Children using inappropriate behavior will be informed of library rules. If inappropriate behavior continues, the child and family may be asked to leave the library.

Youth ages 12 through 16 may be in the library without a parent/caregiver. However, they are still legally the responsibility of their parents and should have emergency contact information available. Youth using inappropriate behavior will be informed of library rules. If inappropriate behavior continues, the youth may be asked to leave the library. The library may require youths who have been requested to leave because of their behavior not be readmitted without being accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Children and Closing Time

Youth of all ages should arrange for transportation before arriving at the library. All children at the library at closing time will be asked for telephone numbers of people to pick them up at the library. If transportation is not available by 15 minutes after closing, the library staff will contact law enforcement personnel to pick up the youth.

When law enforcement personnel have picked up the youth, the staff will leave a note on the library door notifying the parent/caregiver that law enforcement personnel have their child. Library staff will stay with the youth after closing until the parent/caregiver or law enforcement personnel have picked up the youth. Children will not be left outside to wait on a ride.

In any situation involving youth safety and specifically whenever parents/caregivers or law enforcement personnel are contacted, staff will complete an incident report. In cases of serious violations of the policy, the library will notify the Department of Family and Children’s Services.

Under no circumstances will staff members drive unattended children home.

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