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Internet Usage at the Library
Megan comes to the library and uses one of the library’s computers. She is ten, and she is playing a game on the Internet with machine guns and grenades. In short, there is a lot of violence. A patron thinks that it is perfectly appropriate for a ten-year-old while another patron is dismayed and thinks Megan should get off the computer immediately. Her parents are not at the library, but when her dad comes in to pick her up, he sees what she is doing and talks about how they play the game together at home.
This theoretical situation illustrates the wide range of opinions about what is appropriate, in general and at various ages. Thankfully, the library staff does not have to guess what is best for your child or your neighbor’s child. Decisions about what information a child should have and how they should use it lie with the parent or caregiver. In addition to the impossible task of library staff trying to making those judgments, time constraints also make it impractical and ineffective for staff to monitor patrons in this way.
The library board recently reviewed the Internet Usage Policy. They took a close look and examined all the angles. One consideration is the library’s open wireless connection, so anybody with a personal laptop, tablet, or phone can connect to the Internet. That makes it next to impossible to be able to tell a parent or guardian that their child will not have access to the Internet at the library. Even if he is not able to get on the library’s desktop computers and doesn’t have his own device with which to connect, he or she could still borrow or use a friend’s phone, tablet, or laptop at the library.
Advice from the city attorney and the State Library of Iowa told the board it is best if a public library does not “contract” with a parent about what their child can use or check out from a public library. Guidance and decisions about what is acceptable for a child to read and seek lie with the parent or guardian. They have a far deeper understanding of both the development of the child and the values they want to instill.
The revised Internet Policy, which will go into effect July 1, allows for Internet access by all card holders. Minors used to need a parent’s signature in order to use the Internet at the library, but beginning July 1, 2019, that will no longer be true. The new policy is available for you to view at the library’s website. Go to https://tinyurl.com/iplpolicies to see the list of policies, and select Internet Usage.
Please call 319-334-2470 or stop at the library with questions you have about the Internet Use Policy or any other library-related items.