ACCESS TO INTERNET RESOURCES
Commitment to Free and Open Access
The libraries comprising the Athens Regional Library System are committed to providing free and open access to informational, educational, recreational and cultural resources for library users of all ages and backgrounds. Throughout its history, the libraries in the Athens Regional Library System have made information available in a variety of formats, from print materials to audiovisual materials. The libraries’ computer systems provide the opportunity to integrate electronic resources from information networks around the world with ARLS’ other resources.
Definition of the Internet
The Internet, as an information resource, enables the library to provide information beyond the confines of its own collection. It allows access to ideas, information and commentary from around the globe. Currently, however, it is an unregulated medium. As such, while it offers access to a wealth of material that is personally, professionally, and culturally enriching to individuals of all ages, it also enables access to some material that may be offensive, disturbing and/or illegal, inaccurate or incomplete. Users are encouraged to be good information consumers by evaluating the validity of information accessed via the Internet.
Goal to offering Internet Access
In introducing the Internet as an information resource, the library’s goal is to enhance its existing collection in size and depth and as a public access agency, give opportunity to anyone who wishes to participate in navigating the Internet, both in the library and at home through remote access to library services.
Responsibility of Library Staff
Library staff will identify specific starting points for searches on the libraries’ home pages that are appropriate to the library’s mission and service roles. The library cannot control or monitor other material that may be accessible from Internet sources because the Internet is a vast and unregulated medium with access points that can and do change often, rapidly and unpredictably.
Responsibility of Parents
The library affirms the right and responsibility of parents to determine and monitor their own children’s use of library materials and resources. Library staff is available to provide assistance and to help identify appropriate sites. The Children’s Area, and Fun Links for Kids! web pages have been provided to assist users in finding age- and topic-appropriate sites. Parents and children are encouraged to read Child Safety on the Information Highway, available free on the World Wide Web. The user, however, is the selector in using the Internet and makes individual choices and decisions.
Internet Filtering in the Library
Federal law under the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) requires filters to be placed on all computers throughout the Athens Regional Library System. The local library board of trustees in each county, using community standards as a guide, is responsible for determining the level of filtering on the library’s Internet computers. In some cases, the filtering level on the children’s computers may be more restrictive than those computers used by adults only.
The library upholds and affirms the right of each individual to have access to constitutionally protected material. The library also affirms the right and responsibility of parents to determine and monitor their own children’s use of library materials and resources. Therefore, a filter bypass feature is available to those patrons who are 17 and older and request an unfiltered Internet terminal and to parents of individuals who are under 17 that request unfiltered Internet access for their minor child.
While a patron is not required to tell library staff why unfiltered Internet access is desired, a patron may be asked to show proof of age when requesting an unfiltered Internet terminal. A parent may be requested to move to an area of the library not designated for minor children when requesting unfiltered Internet access for his/her child. A parent must remain with his/her child at all times while their minor child is using unfiltered Internet access or if his/her child is in an area not designated for their appropriate age group.
Time limits may be imposed depending on local demand for Internet access. First come, first served. Users must sign up in person. Reservations will not be taken over the phone. Reservation software and/or library staff will manage the length of a user’s session. Users may not begin another session without staff approval.
Misuse of the computer will result in the loss of computer privileges, potential loss of library privileges and possible prosecution. Such 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 computer’s settings; and violating copyright laws and software licensing agreements.
The library’s computers are set up for optimal usage by a single individual. In some cases, such as a parent/guardian with children, it may be important for two or more people to work together at a computer. Otherwise, because of limited space, a maximum of two persons may sit/work together at any one computer.
All users are asked to respect the privacy of other users and not attempt to censor or comment upon what others are viewing.