In response to advances in
technology and the changing needs of the community, The Otsego County
Library endeavors to develop collections, resources and services that meet
the informational, individual and educational needs of a diverse
community. It is within this context that the Otsego County Library
offers access to the Internet.
Internet is a global entity with a highly diverse user population and the
Library has no control over its content. Library staff and patrons can
access a wealth of useful material that is not available locally and the
Internet has made a huge impact in our ability to find the information we
need at home, school or work. But not all sources on the Internet provide
accurate, complete or current information. Internet users should always
take into consideration the reliability of the content provider. Patrons
may also encounter sites that they find offensive or may be offensive to
other library users. Persons should be mindful and respectful of other
patrons when displaying images in the library.
Library is a public forum designed for public inquiry and, therefore, must
not deny access to information protected under the first amendment. On
the other hand, text or images that may be reasonably believed to be
prohibited by Michigan law¹ should not be displayed in the library. The
library will attempt through its policies to keep such materials from
being accessed and displayed on library computers. However, in accordance
with Supreme Court guidelines, we will choose the least restrictive means
possible so that valid information and protected speech are not
access in the library by minor children under 18 years of age also must
comply with Michigan law. Public Act 212 of 2000, which takes effect
October 1, 2000, requires that the library either a) make available, to
individuals of any age, one or more terminals that are restricted from
receiving obscene matter or sexually explicit matter that is harmful to
minors and reserving, to individuals 18 years of age or older or
minors who are accompanied by their parent or guardian, one or more
terminals that are not restricted from receiving any materials or b)
utilizing a system or method that is designed to prevent a minor from
viewing obscene matter or sexually explicit matter that is harmful to
minors. The Library believes that the best delineation of what is harmful
to minors, as determined by “contemporary community standards,” is the
standard set by the parent or guardian for the minor. Therefore, we
recommend that the parent or guardian supervise their child’s Internet
sessions if they have concerns about what their child may be accessing.
To most effectively address the issue of unsupervised minors, the library
will employs a combination of methods allowed under PA 212.
Library has provided unfiltered Internet access since December 1994 and
has developed computer rules and regulations to ensure these resources are
used responsibly. We have used a system to assign and monitor Internet
workstations that enforces computer rules and regulations (including time
limits, use of games and chat) and Internet policy. Workstations are in
public areas in full view of staff and other patrons. We believe this
system has been successful in providing access to the widest range of
useful information while restricting access to sites that are obscene,
sexually explicit or harmful to minors as defined in Michigan law.¹
Description of System
· Each workstation is numbered.
· The patron must present ID when registering for
a workstation. We assign the patron to a specific workstation and record
the name, date, computer number, time session started (and ended) and type
of ID presented.
· The staff makes random checks of the computer
lab to check for compliance with rules and policy. Any library staff
member who observes a person disregarding computer rules and/or viewing
inappropriate sites will direct that person to discontinue the behavior or
remove the material from the computer screen and refrain from such action
or viewing in the future. Any person who refuses to comply with staff
directions will be asked to leave the library premises. Law enforcement
personnel may be called to enforce compliance with such a request.
First offense – Patron receives a verbal
warning and the offense is noted and filed.
Second offense – Patron receives a
two-week suspension of computer privileges and must immediately leave
workstation. The suspension is noted and filed.
Third offense – Patron loses computer
privileges. Priveleges may be reinstated only by the library board.
There are three areas of the
library where Internet access is available:
- Children’s area – Three Gates Foundation
computers are available for children 12 and under. These computers will
be set to the “Child” profile that does not allow Internet access.
Staff will change the profile to allow Internet access only upon request
of the parent/guardian. The parent/guardian must supervise the child
during the entire Internet session.
- Reference area - The library will install
free filtering software, such as a parent would use at home, on at least
two computers in the area. Adults who prefer filtered terminals and
minors under 18 will be able to use these computers without
supervision. Signs will be posted to inform users that filtering
software does not always block sites that they find personally
offensive. The Library may switch filtering software products at any
time or remove all filtering software products if it is determined to be
ineffective or too restrictive in blocking protected speech. Those
workstations without filtering software will be monitored as outlined in
section 3 below.
- MSU Computer Lab - The computers in this
lab were installed for research purposes by Michigan State University.
Filtering is not an option in this lab because a) the filtering software
would block out valid research materials and b) the lab runs off a
server on the MSU campus so that it is not technologically feasible to
install local filters. In addition to Internet access, these computers
are also loaded with productivity software and other applications that
may be needed by young computer users. In order to make these resources
available to minor children and remain compliant with PA 212, any patron
who cannot provide proof that he/she is at least 18 years old:
- Must be accompanied by a parent/guardian OR
agree to allow the library staff to monitor their Internet use.
- Minors will be given a color-coded workstation
- Library staff will clear browser history files
before a minor uses a workstation
- Library staff will make random checks (not more
that 15 minutes apart) of all minors using Internet stations.
- Minors who deliberately access inappropriate
sites will no longer be allowed to use the computer lab.
Library Board of Trustees has adopted this policy in a good faith effort
to comply with state law by October 1, 2000. Library staff will continue
to evaluate Internet access in the library and ways to regulate its use.
This policy will be reviewed every three months.
September 19, 2000.
Library will use definitions from the following Michigan laws to determine
what is obscene, sexually explicit or harmful to minors:
33 of 1978 (Michigan’s Law on Sexually Explicit Materials Harmful to
343 of 1984 (Michigan’s Law on Criminal Obscenity)