Bedford Public Library Policy
The Bedford Public Library System (BPLS) welcomes children of all ages to use its facilities for leisure reading, research, homework, and at library programs. For the safety and comfort of children, a responsible adult or caregiver should accompany children while they are using the library. While in the library, parents and caregivers are responsible for monitoring and regulating the behavior of their children. BPLS does not serve in place of the parent, and is unable to assume responsibility for minors.
A child under the age of 12 is considered unattended unless accompanied at all times by a parent/caregiver. Children over the age of 12 are considered unattended if they are deemed in a situation that requires judgment or actions greater than the child's level of maturity.
While BPLS desires to provide a safe and appropriate environment for visitors of all ages, the library is an open, public building, and the well being of children left alone is a serious concern. Our staff has many duties to perform and cannot monitor the behavior or the whereabouts of each patron, including children. For safety’s sake, parents should make sure that their children are sufficiently mature before allowing them to visit the library by themselves. Parents should be advised that if their children misbehave, they may be told to leave the library and the library grounds. Parents should further realize that, even in their absence, they are legally responsible for their children’s behavior.
If an unattended child acts in a manner not in compliance with the library’s Standards of Conduct, staff members should:
If unattended children are in the library at closing, staff should:
- Speak to the child and suggest appropriate behavior.
- Walk the child through the library to find their responsible adult.
- Consider if child should be asked to leave after speaking to a child two times about inappropriate behavior, or;
- Explain to the parent or caregiver, the library’s policy concerning unattended children.
- Attempt to reach the parent or caregiver by phone if they are not in the library. Ask them to take charge of their child as quickly as possible. When the parent or caregiver arrives, explain the library policy concerning unattended children.
- Contact the local police if attempts to contact the parent or caregiver are not successful.
If a parent or caregiver reports they have lost a child in the library, staff should:
- Tell the child to call a responsible person for a ride home and have staff explain to the parent or caregiver, the library’s policy concerning unattended children.
- Remain with the child after the library closes and until the situation is resolved. (At least two staff people must remain.)
- Contact the local police if the parent or caregiver cannot be reached and has not come after 15 minutes. Staff should complete an unattended child sign and post on the front door for the parents.
- Under NO circumstances drive a child home.
- Notify his or her Supervisor of the amount of time they were required to wait with the child. For time over ½ hour, the Supervisor will assign a fee to the parent’s borrowers’ record of $25 an hour or any portion of an hour for each employee remaining with the child.
BPLS has an Internet Policy that states, “Parents of minor children are responsible for their children’s use of the Internet through the library system’s connection.”
Library staff will not accept incoming telephone calls for children or students in the library. If a caller asks for verification or to speak to someone in the library, staff will
- Notify department desks to watch their respective doors.
- Determine where the parent has searched, and when the child was last seen.
- Get a description of the child, including clothing and shoes worn.
- Using the phone system, have all staff members search their areas for a child by that description.
- Notify the police if the child is not located after a quick check. Ask the parent to stay close to the desk until police arrive.
Parents of preschool-age children attending library programs should remain in the building during the program.
Groups of children must be accompanied by an adult. Teachers or group leaders are responsible for group discipline and must remain with the group the entire visit. The behavior of the group should not disturb other library patrons.
Staff, volunteers, official visitors or speakers may receive phone calls.
- Ask for a number where the caller can be reached, along with the name and description of the person they are seeking;
- Tell the caller that you cannot be sure of locating the person but if the person is located, you will deliver the message.
- Attempt to locate the person and deliver the message if workflow allows, or
- Keep the information at the desk in case the person comes to the desk