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The Internet is a rich and educational resource for information, ideas and entertainment. No other medium has provided us with so much information so easily. The Library recognizes these developments pose new challenges as well as new opportunities for the library trustees, the library staff, and library users and their families. The Library believes that these challenges and opportunities are best addressed by adherence to the fundamental principles of traditional library use and the principles of a free society. These new methods of receiving information are now incorporated into the mission of the Dartmouth Public Libraries which includes the commitments to “provide access to the digital world without unnecessary restrictions or fees,” “develop the ability to find, evaluate and use information effectively,” and “provide a safe and comfortable physical and virtual environment for people to meet and interact with others in the community. “
Responsibilities of the Library
Congress and the courts have recognized that there is no single organization to govern, control, or select information for the Internet. Because of this freedom of information, the breadth of information on the Internet, the unstructured and unregulated nature of the Internet, and the unreliable state of filtering, The Dartmouth Public Libraries cannot control the content of the resources available on the Internet. The Library does not select the material on the Internet and has no means or statutory authority to assure that only constitutionally protected material is available on the Internet.
As stated in the American Library Association’s Statement on Library Use of Filtering Software (adopted by the Dartmouth Public Libraries Board of Trustees, 2005)
“…the use of filtering software by libraries to block access to constitutionally protected speech violates the Library Bill of Rights”; therefore the Dartmouth Public Libraries do not impose blocking or filtering software to limit access to Internet sites.
Responsibilities of Users
The Internet is a global entity with a highly diverse user population and information content. Though the Internet provides users with a wide array of excellent information, it also contains information that may be inaccurate, outdated, or personally offensive. Library patrons use it at their own risk. A good information consumer evaluates the validity of information found. Use of the Internet resources carries with it a responsibility to evaluate the quality of information accessed. The availability of information does not constitute endorsement.
Internet access is a privilege that the library may provide to patrons, and comes with certain responsibilities. Access, use, or dissemination of information via the Internet in the Library is the responsibility of the user. In the case of minors, it is a joint responsibility of the user and the parent or guardian.
Be aware that computers in public areas can be viewed by people of all ages and sensibilities. The Dartmouth Public Libraries reserves the right to ask users to refrain from displaying computer images that are inappropriate for public viewing.
The public and staff may only use the Internet and Electronic Resources for lawful purposes. The posting transmitting, accessing, or displaying of obscene material, as defined by Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 272, Section 31, is prohibited. Conduct which would violate any state or federal law is prohibited. Unacceptable uses of these resources by anyone will result in the suspension of access privileges.
Dartmouth Public Libraries upholds the right of confidentiality and privacy for all library users. Users are urged to respect the sensibilities of others when accessing information that may reasonably be offensive to someone else. However, absolute privacy for patrons using electronic resources in the Libraries cannot be guaranteed. The Libraries’ “Patron Behavior” policy applies to the behavior of patrons using electronic equipment and resources.
Supervising Children’s Use
The public library, unlike schools, does not serve in loco parentis (in place of a parent). Librarians cannot act in the place of parents in providing supervision of children as they explore the Internet. The responsibility for what minors read or view on the Internet rests with parents or guardians.