Children's Library Use
Visiting the library
Children and teens are welcome in the library, and library staff hope that all patrons have a positive and fun experience. There are many programs and resources available at the library to help children develop a love of books and reading.
However, parents should know that the library is a public place that welcomes people of all ages from all walks of life. While library staff care deeply about the welfare and safety of children, child supervision is not available. Access to the building is not controlled, and people are allowed to enter and exit freely. Library staff cannot ensure that a young child is adequately cared for or prevent them from leaving the library. Parents or guardians are solely responsible for their children's use of the library, including transportation, caregiving, item selection, use of technology, and program participation.
In order to ensure the protection and wellbeing of young children, patrons under 12 must have an adult caregiver (18+) with them. This person should be with the child and able to focus their safety. Parents are encouraged to stay with their young children during programs, but may browse the library or wait outside the program room if preferred. They may not leave children under 12 alone in the building.
Unattended children & teens
Children and teens 12 and up are welcome to visit the library on their own. After this age, parents may make their own determination about when their child is old enough to have their own library card and visit independently. Most teens are mature enough to when they carry a wallet, bag or purse; make their own media selections; keep track of their things; and stay home without an adult.
Parents should know that minors using the library on their own will be able to access the Internet and make independent media selections. Library staff can only provide basic guidance in item selection, such as helping teens find a specific author or find books about a topic. We strongly encourage parents to talk to their teens about what they are reading and watching, and guide their teens in making decisions. If you would like your child to be able to visit the library, but not borrow items, please keep their library card/s. Parents may still want to visit the library with their teens to assist with these activities.
Teens using the library must have a parent's contact information with them. If they do not have a cell phone, they may use the library phone to contact a parent or caregiver at any time. An adult should be ready to pick up teens if there is an emergency, or if their child is being disruptive or not following library policies. Discuss with your teen what they should do if the library closes unexpectedly (for example, during a power outage), or if they are asked to leave the library for safety reasons.
Library staff cannot prevent anyone from leaving the building.
Teens are encouraged to visit the library with a sibling, friend, or group for additional safety. They should look after their personal property and be aware of their surroundings. If your teen--or anyone--feels unsafe or uncomfortable in the library, or if they observe suspicious or criminal behavior, they should tell a staff member or call 911.
The Water St. Complex is not staffed after hours. Please make sure you know when the library closes. If a young child, or anyone that is need of care, is left at the library after closing, they may be asked to wait with a law enforcement or child protection officer for their safety.
Safety & security
The library takes multiple steps to ensure the safety of patrons, including children and teens. These include the following:
- Library staff receive a Level II background check as part of the employment process.
- Security cameras are in the entryways and public areas.
- Access to staff areas is controlled.
- All public areas are viewable through at least 1 window
- Parents are invited to attend programs and events with their children
- Children's programs must have at least 2 adults present, at least one of whom is a library staff member.
- Library staff members are not permitted to transport patrons or take them into private areas.
Lockdowns and other serious incidents
Library staff have evacuation and lockdown procedures in the unlikely event of a serious safety issue in the library. In this case, staff will help children to safety and assist them with contacting a parent.