Policy Overview

PURPOSE: To establish guidelines for library staff and library users in the use and dissemination of electronic information through the internet and to inform the public of the Library's policy for internet access.

AUTHORITY: The Library Mission Statement PPM #CLO-001; the Collection Development Policy PPM #CLO-1100; Guidelines Governing the Use of the Children's Area PPM #CLO-707; the American Library Association's Access to Digital Information, Services, and Networks: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights; Federal Public Law 106-554, Title XVII, the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA); Florida Statutes, Chapter 815; Florida Statutes, Chapter 847.

POLICY: The Library provides information through the internet in accordance with the Library's Mission Statement. The internet offers access to a global network of millions of computers across more than 190 countries and links to the exchange of data, news and opinions that can be useful and appropriate for individuals of all ages. It is, however, an unregulated medium with a highly diverse user population. Providing information through the internet is not the same as selecting and purchasing materials for the Library's collection. Some information provided through the internet may not meet the Library's selection criteria or guidelines. Information on the internet may be reliable and current or it may be inaccurate, out-of-date, or incomplete. The Library cannot monitor or control the vast amount of material accessible through the internet.

The internet may contain material of a controversial nature. It is the responsibility of users to determine what information is appropriate for their own use. It is the responsibility of parents and legal guardians to determine what information is appropriate for their children. As with other library materials, parents and legal guardians are encouraged to monitor and supervise their children's internet use. The Library also suggests that parents and legal guardians read information available through the Library website and on the internet at www.safekids.com.

Internet access is available at Library locations through designated public computers and is also available through the Library's free public wireless (WiFi) access. An adult, teen or child needs a current PBCLS library card to use a computer in the adult section of the library at all locations.

At least one guest computer is available at each branch for those without PBCLS library cards. These guest computers are restricted to a 15 minute time limit.

Children and teens may use the computers in the children's area and the teen area at all locations without a PBCLS library card.

An unaccompanied adult is not allowed to use computers in the children's area or teen area.

In accordance with the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) the Library's computers and wireless connection are filtered to block internet access to visual depictions that are obscene, contain child pornography, or are harmful to minors. Content filters are never perfectly accurate. Parents or legal guardians retain the right and responsibility to determine what use is appropriate for their child.

Responsibility of Users

The Library encourages users to be responsible and considerate of others when using computers in a public setting. Parents and legal guardians are responsible for determining what information is appropriate for themselves and their children. Disregarding the following guidelines may result in loss of computer privileges, potential loss of library privileges, and possible prosecution:

  1. The Library's computer equipment and software must be used as installed. Users are not allowed to delete, add to, or change the installed hardware or software.
  2. Users may not use the Library's computers or wireless connection to obtain unauthorized access, including hacking, into any other computer or network, or participate in other unlawful online activities.
  3. Users may not disrupt or interfere with other computer or network users, services, or equipment. Intentional disruption of the operation of computer systems and networks is a violation of Florida Statutes, Chapter 815, and users may be held responsible.
  4. Users may not represent themselves as another person or use internet access to transmit obscene, threatening, or harassing materials.
  5. Users may not send or display obscene materials or materials harmful to minors in accordance with Florida Statutes, Chapter 847.
  6. Users must respect the legal protection of data and software provided by copyright and license law.
  7. Users should be aware of computer viruses and other destructive computer programs, and take steps to avoid being a victim or unwitting distributor of these problems. All wireless access users should have up-to-date virus protection on their laptop computers or wireless devices. The Library will not be responsible for any information that is compromised, or for any damage caused to hardware or software due to electric surges, security issues or consequences caused by viruses or hacking. The Library cannot guarantee that a personal device brought into the Library will work with the Library's wireless network.
  8. Users of electronic mail (email) systems or other forms of direct electronic communications should be aware that these communications may not be secure and are extremely vulnerable to unauthorized access and modification. Parents and guardians should instruct children on using these types of communication safely and to refrain from disclosing personal information online.
  9. The unauthorized disclosure, use and dissemination of personal identification information regarding children is prohibited.
  10. For security reasons, users may not install or download applications on the hard drive of a Library computer. Copying to a removable USB device or removable media is permitted.
  11. Users should ensure they save or print their work prior to the end of their computer session to prevent loss of data. The Library cannot retrieve and is not responsible for the loss of data.

Due to the high demand for electronic resources, the Library may establish time limits in order to accommodate members who are waiting.

The Library has established identification requirements for using computers within the Library. Children under the age of eighteen are restricted to the use of filtered internet computers. Members who provide a picture I.D. showing that they are eighteen years of age or older may use unfiltered public computers.

All wireless access is filtered. The filter is never lifted on wireless access, computers in the children's area; the teen area; the Main Library Computer Center and the Serials area at Main Library.

Library staff may refuse to assist a member in accessing explicit sexual materials. Staff is required to report these incidents to a supervisor.

Ultimate responsibility for problems related to the invasion of the user's privacy or loss of data rests with the user. The Library assumes no liability for loss or damage to the user's computer, software, data, or for any damage or injury arising from the use of the Library's internet connection.

As with most public wireless “hot spots," the Library's wireless connection is not secure. Any information being transmitted could potentially be intercepted. Cautious and informed wireless users should choose not to transmit personal information or confidential data while using any wireless connection. Users should take appropriate precautions when using this service.

The Library and its staff are not liable for any damage to personal equipment and files resulting from use of library computer stations.

Internet Training

The Library may recommend interesting and useful internet destinations and resources for library users to explore. Library staff, however, cannot provide in-depth individual instruction on the internet or personal computer use, nor can they troubleshoot problems related to wireless devices, device network settings and/or hardware configurations. The Library offers classes and formal training on access to the internet at designated times and places and provides general information and handouts for connecting devices to the Library's wireless connection.


This is a working document. Changes in state or federal law, usage, or available technology may require frequent revisions.