Internet Use

The Seattle Public Library provides access to a broad range of information resources, including resources available through the Internet. The Library makes Internet service available to the public as part of its mission to bring people, information and ideas together. In this effort, the Library provides free and open access to all types of information for Library patrons of all ages and backgrounds.

The Internet is a global network of ideas, images and commentary that provides free and timely access to large amounts of practical and educational materials from around the world. However, the Library cannot control the information available over the Internet and is not responsible for its content. Some websites provide information that is inaccurate, incomplete or dated, and some content may be offensive, disturbing and potentially illegal.

To help protect the privacy of computer users and the interests of other Library patrons, the Library attempts to minimize the unintentional viewing of potentially offensive content to the extent that it is feasible to do so by intentional placement of computers and provision of privacy screens.

Policy Statement
The Seattle Public Library upholds the rights of all Library patrons to read, seek information and speak freely as guaranteed by the First Amendment, regardless of format or technology. These are fundamental rights in a democratic society and are core values of the Library.

Rules Governing Use
In order to allow all patrons an opportunity to use the equipment, patrons are asked to comply with sign up and time limitations. All computer users are asked to respect the privacy of other users and not attempt to censor or comment upon what others are viewing. The Library's Rules of Conduct and pertinent state, federal and local laws apply to all Library patrons, including computer users.

Library computers and Wi-Fi may not be used for any illegal activity including, but not limited to:

  • Damaging or altering computer equipment, systems or software.
  • Displaying, printing or sending any material that is illegal, libelous, threatening or harassing.
  • Downloading or installing any harmful program defined as, but not limited to, spyware, viruses, Trojans, malware or any other illegal utility on any computer.
  • Violating copyright or trademark laws, software licensing agreements or intellectual property rights.
  • Users engaging in these activities may lose computer privileges and/or be asked to leave the Library. Library staff may summon law enforcement authorities if necessary.

Access by Children
The Library affirms the right and responsibility of parents and caregivers to monitor their child's use of Library materials and resources. To assist parents in monitoring their child's use of the Internet, the Library:

  • Provides specially designed Web pages for children and young adults, with links to age-appropriate websites and filtered search engines.
  • Provides computers with commercial filtering software for public use in the children's area at each location in the Library system. This filtering software will block many specific sites that may be offensive to some, but may not block out all materials that may be offensive to all users. Parents should inform their children of materials they do not want them to use and may wish to supervise their children's Internet sessions.
  • Considers placement of public computers in each Library location to minimize inadvertent viewing of public computer sessions.

This policy applies to all Library patrons who access the Internet at a Library branch, including the Central Library.

Related Laws, Policies and Procedures
Board Policy, Intellectual Freedom in Libraries.

Reviewed and wording clarified on Oct. 28, 2015. Supersedes Internet Use Policy adopted by the Library Board Dec. 14, 1999 and revised Jan. 22, 2002.

Adopted: June 27, 2012
Wording Clarification: Oct. 28, 2015
Supersedes Policy: Internet Use Policy adopted by the Library Board Dec. 14, 1999 and revised Jan. 22, 2002