Public Computer Access Policy

Effective - March 1, 2011

Reaffirmed by the Board of Trustees: June 19, 2012; Revised October 16, 2018

I. Mission & Goals

Public libraries make available the recorded knowledge of civilization, in many formats, to all citizens and thus promote and foster the free flow of information and ideas. The Gaston County Public Library subscribes in principle to essential statements of policy on library philosophy as expressed by the American Library Association regarding Access to Digital Information, Services, and Networks:

Freedom of expression is an inalienable human right and the foundation for self-government. Freedom of expression encompasses the freedom of speech and the corollary right to receive information. Libraries and librarians protect and promote these rights regardless of the format or technology employed to create and disseminate information.

By providing access to electronic resources, including the Internet, the Library aims to augment its materials collections in order to better fulfill the educational, informational, leisure, and cultural needs of its service community.

II. Nature of the Internet

The Internet offers access to a wealth of information vastly beyond the confines of traditional library resources. However, the Internet is an unregulated information medium, a computer information network created and utilized by diverse user populations worldwide. Therefore, the Internet also enables access to information, ideas, images, and commentaries that are inconsistent with the Library's established mission, goals, selection criteria, and collection development policies. Because of the Internet's virtual nature, its information sites change rapidly, unpredictably, and uncontrollably.

III. Disclaimers

Provision of digital and Internet resources does not constitute endorsement by the Gaston County Public Library of any information contained therein. The Library can neither monitor nor control content and users' activities. The Library assumes no responsibility whatsoever for potential damages, direct or indirect, that could arise from use. Individuals must exercise self-control and wise judgment in selecting, evaluating, and utilizing Internet sites because the Library cannot provide protection from inaccurate, offensive, illegal, or otherwise objectionable information. Complaints should be directed to the original producer/distributor of such information, not to the Library.

U.S. Copyright Law (Title l7, U.S. Code) prohibits the unauthorized reproduction or distribution of copyrighted materials, except as permitted by the principles of "fair use." Users may not copy or distribute electronic materials (including electronic mail, text, images, programs, or data) without the explicit permission of the copyright holder. Any responsibility for any consequences of copyright infringement lies with the user. The Library expressly disclaims any liability or responsibility resulting from such use.

IV. Confidentiality / Privacy / Security

Although users of library resources and services are protected by Gaston County Public Library policies and North Carolina General Statues (125-18, 125-19), individual privacy cannot be guaranteed at public computer workstations. Users should also be aware that electronic communications and files can become public since security online is technically difficult, if not impossible, to achieve.

V. Conditions & Terms of Acceptable Use

The Gaston County Public Library provides Internet access to all library users, including children. Therefore, the Library complies with the federal Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) by employing filtering technology to prevent access to content reasonably construed as obscene, pornographic, and otherwise harmful to minors. Parents/ legal guardians, however, are responsible for their child(ren)'s use of Library resources, including the Internet. Filters cannot be relied upon to provide complete protection.

The Library also offers free wireless access to library users with their own mobile devices. Wireless users must abide by all terms and conditions set forth in the Library's Public Computer Access and Library Conduct policies. Wireless access points are filtered, unsecured, and accessible only during library business hours. Users assume all risks associated with their wireless activities at library sites.

Use of the Internet for purposes contrary to federal and state laws or in violation of the Gaston County Public Library's Public Computer Access and Library Conduct policies and acceptable use guidelines will not be tolerated. Irresponsible, unethical, or illegal Internet conduct and activities may result in suspension or loss of privileges, removal from Library premises, or prosecution by appropriate authorities.

The Library reserves the right to revise computer policy and acceptable use guidelines as necessary to maintain reasonable and fair accessibility.

VI. Acceptable Use Guidelines

Gaston County Public Library computer users must fully adhere to all conditions and terms of agreement, including these guidelines:

  • Computer access is made available on a first-come, first-served basis
  • User sessions are scheduled, and daily time limits enforced, by Library staff or automated (SAM) technology
  • Users must complete printing activity within work session time limits
  • Users may not alter the set-up or configuration of any Library workstation hardware and/or software, including downloading or loading software/apps
  • Users should not attempt to modify or otherwise gain access to files, passwords, or data belonging to others
  • Users should not seek unauthorized access to any computer system or attempt to alter software components of any network or database
  • Users will be liable for intentional damage to Library hardware or software
  • USB portable memory storage devices may be used to save or retrieve information from Library computers
  • The Library cannot be responsible for loss of data saved to or stored on any personal device connected to its public access computers
  • The Library is not liable for damage, destruction, or loss of any personal device connected to public access computers
  • Copyright-free information may be printed at a nominal cost per page
  • Violators of copyright laws and licensing agreements will be liable for illegal use consequences
  • Users may not send, display, receive, or print materials defined by law as obscene (NCGS 14-190.1)
  • Users are expected to exercise appropriate discretion when viewing materials that may be offensive to others, especially children
  • Users may not allow minors to view, peruse, or review materials that may be harmful to them (NCGS 14-190.13)
  • Computer use requires fundamental knowledge and skills. The Library staff cannot provide in-depth assistance.
  • Training sessions are offered as Library staff scheduling permits.
  • The Gaston County Public Library cannot guarantee that Internet service will run uninterrupted and trouble-free at all times in all branch locations.

Final authority for the determination of adopted public computer access policy is vested in the Gaston County Public Library Board of Trustees. Ultimate responsibility for enforcement rests with the Library Director. Responsibility for actual enforcement rests with Library personnel who shall discharge this obligation consistent with the Board's adopted policies, procedures, and guidelines.