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Policies

Library cards 

Eligibility. People who live or work in Jefferson County are eligible for a free library card, which entitles them to borrow books and other items and use library services. If you need a new or replacement library card, visit the front desk.

Children's library cards. Parents may check out books for children on their library cards. Parents may also decide if and when their child is ready to borrow books independently. Children and teens under 18 may obtain a library card with permission from a parent or legal guardian. A parent, grandparent, or legal guardian must be present when the child signs up for a card, with the exception of class visits or field trips. If your child is visiting the library with a class or summer camp, their teacher or counselor may request permission slips. Parents or guardians are responsible for their child's library use as well as any replacement or late fees, whether or not they accompany their child to the library.

Ebooks. Your library card gives you access to Libby, which has a large collection of downloadable books, audiobooks, publications and streaming video. JCPL is a member of a group of libraries who share access to this platform. When you download or log on to the Libby app, search for the Panhandle Library Access Network. Ask a library staff member for more information about accessing digital media.

Cooperative. Library cards may be used at any member library of the Wilderness Coast Public Libraries cooperative. These libraries are the Jefferson County Public Library, Wakulla County Public Library, and Franklin County Public Library.

Rules.

  • Library cards are not transferable and patrons may not have multiple cards.
  • Patrons may establish eligibility using a government-issued photo ID; student or employee ID; utility bill; or some combination of these that establishes identity and residency.
  • People who work in Jefferson County should provide an ID along with information about where they work.
  • If you are outside the service area, you may join the library for a one-time fee of $30.
  • Library cards expire annually. If your card has expired, you can reactivate it by speaking with a staff member and ensuring that your contact information is up-to-date. You may request a free replacement card, but do not have to get one unless your card is damaged or missing.
  • Patrons can borrow a maximum of 50 items at a time, including up to 3 DVDs, 1 hotspot, and 2 Playaway tablets. Some items may have special restrictions such as limited borrowing periods. The these items will be marked in the catalog and on the item.
  • Items cannot be renewed if they are on hold for other patrons.
  • A fine or replacement fee may be assessed for items that are damaged or lost.
Patron conduct 

The public library is a friendly place for Jeffersonians of all ages to enjoy books and literature; participate in civic life; and take part in cultural and educational activities. Any behavior that disrupts the orderly use of the library is prohibited. This includes behavior or activities that interfere with:

  • The normal use of library facilities, grounds, services, and collections;
  • The ability of library employees to conduct library business;
  • The safety of patrons, staff, collections, or facilities; or
  • Offering a welcoming, peaceful environment for reading, work and study.

In addition, the following policies are in effect:

  • Do not leave children under age 12, or anyone who is not able to care for themselves, unsupervised in the library.
  • Do not block doorways or hallways, or otherwise impede access to the building, including access by people using mobility aids. 
  • Use headphones if you are using technology that makes noise, such as videos, music or games.
  • Do not post flyers, public announcements and other bills anywhere but the Community Bulletin Board.
  • Hot foods and uncovered drinks are not allowed in the library, except as part of a scheduled program or event. Dry snacks and covered drinks are permitted.
  • Tobacco, alcohol or other substance use is not allowed anywhere in the library, including entrances, grounds and parking lots.
  • Weapons are not allowed in the library, except as provided for in state and federal law.
  • Adults (18+) who are not supervising a child are not allowed to loiter in children's or teen areas.
  • Pets are not allowed in the library unless they are part of a library program or exhibit. Animal control will be contacted if loose dogs or other animals are on library grounds. This rule does not apply to animals trained to assist someone with a disability.

Along with these policies and standards, Section 26-1 of the Jefferson County Code of Ordinances prohibits disturbances in public buildings. Disturbances include outbursts, confrontations or yelling; violence, threats, profanity, or slurs; illegal activity; any form of harassment; any form of solicitation; treating staff or other patrons in a hostile or offensive manner; refusing to leave the library when requested; or other activities that violate the law, disrupt library use, or endanger the safety of patrons or staff.

Policy enforcement is the responsibility of the library staff on duty.

Children's library use 

The library is a special place for families to visit, and includes many resources and events that are educational and appealing to children. Children of all ages are welcome at the library, and there is no minimum age for a library card or program participation. Multiple steps are taken to make sure the library is safe, secure, and welcoming to families. Library policies are not intended to limit children's and teens' library use, but to ensure they can use the library safely.

Children's library cards.  Parents, grandparents, or legal guardians may check out books for a child on their library cards. They may apply for a library card for their minor child, if they prefer. Children's accounts will be attached to a parent's or legal guardan's until the age of 16, when privacy laws go into effect. Parents are solely responsible for their child's library use until the age of 18, whether or not they accompany their child to the library.

With a signed permission slip, children may also obtain a library card during a class visit or field trip. In this case, the child's teacher or counselor is responsible for getting permission slips and supervising children's library use.

Internet access. There is public Wi-Fi in the library, and library computers can access the Internet. In accordance with the federal Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) (Pub. L. 106-554), all library computers and devices are equipped with a technology protection measure to filter and block access to images that are obscene. However, no filtering system is 100% effective, and filters may not block all objectionable content. Parents are solely responsible for their children's use of library technology and resources and should closely supervise their children's use of the Internet.

Unattended children under 12. The library is open to the public, has a wide variety of resources, and serves multiple purposes and populations. Library staff are not licensed or authorized to provide caregiving or assume legal or custodial responsibility for any patron, and are not allowed to prevent anyone from leaving the library. For these reasons, children under age 12 must have an adult (18+) caregiver with them to supervise and assist with their library use. Unaccompanied children under 12 will be assisted in locating or contacting their caregiver. If the caregiver is not on the premises, a library staff member, first responder, or social worker may wait with the child until they are picked up. 

Unattended children over 12. Children and teens age 12 and up are welcome to visit the library without an adult, as long as they can follow library policies and use the library independently. Unaccompanied children and teens should have an adult's contact information and know what to do in case of an emergency. Children and teens may always use the library's phone to contact a parent if needed. Unaccompanied children and teens should be picked up before closing time. The Water St. Campus is not staffed after closing hours.

The library is not a supervised area. Parents or legal guardians are responsible for the safety and supervision of their children at all times, whether or not they accompany them to the library.

Vulnerable people 

Everyone is welcome at the library, and the library is designed to be accessible to people of all ages and abilities. Staff are available to assist patrons with finding items, using the library, accessing technology, and responding to emergencies. Anyone over age 12 who can understand and follow library rules, use the library safely, and provide for their own needs, may use the library without supervision.

If a patron cannot care for themselves; is in an impaired state; needs medical care; needs behavioral supervison; or would otherwise meet the definition of a vulnerable person under Florida law, they must have an adult (age 18+) guardian, caregiver or support person with them who is able to provide this assistance. Library staff are not permitted to provide any caregiving services (such as tranpsortation, meals, or hygiene help); cannot prevent anyone from leaving the library; and are not licensed or authorized to provide any caregiving or custodial services. The library does not assume legal or custodial. responsibility for any patron at any time.

If a vulnerable person is left at the library without adequate care, assistance, or supervision, a staff member will help them contact their caregiver or support person. A library staff member, emergency responder, or social worker may wait with the vulnerable person until their caregiver arrives. If a caregiver is not available, the library may contact emergency or social services for assistance. Library staff are required by law to report suspicions of abuse or neglect, including inadequate care of a vulnerable person.

All visitors should know what to do in case of an emergency closure. Patrons who do not have independent transportation should be able to contact their guardian, caregiver or support person in the event of an emergency. Patrons may always use the library phone to contact a caregiver or guardian.

All patrons must leave the library at closing time. 

Closures and emergencies 

The library will close for the following reasons:

  • State and federal holidays.
  • County offices or schools are closed.
  • Failure of plumbing, utilities or HVAC systems.
  • Law enforcement request or lockdown.
  • Quarantine or stay-at-home order.

In the event of an unexpected closure, please proceed calmly to the exits. Library staff will assist unaccompanied children and teens with contacting an adult. Staff will also assist anyone who cannot leave the building safely on their own. If necessary, library staff will work with law enforcement and/or other emergency services to establish a safe family reunification area and alternative contact numbers.

During an emergency, the library may offer alternative schedules, alternate locations, or other changes to help patrons meet their civic, information, and entertainment needs. Library facilities and staff may also be needed to assist with relief operations. You can speak with a library staff member or your County Commissioner about the status of the library.

Meeting room use 

Library meeting rooms are limited use public forums, and are available on an equal basis to all Jeffersonians. Subject to availability, members of the public are welcome to use meeting rooms for political, religious, educational, civic and cultural activities. The use of meeting rooms does not mean that the library, library staff, Jefferson County, or the State of Florida endorse or support any viewpoint, candidate, religion, cause, or political party.

While the library will work to accommodate patrons, availability of meeting rooms is not guaranteed. Events may be moved, canceled or rescheduled by the library in the event of policy violations, overcrowding, booking conflicts, emergency closure, or other exigent circumstances. 

Meeting rooms may not be used for any commercial or for-profit purpose, with the exception of book sales or items made available as an incidental part of a cultural event, such as a book signing or musical performance.

Meeting organizers and participants must follow all library policies, including children's use policies, and cannot disrupt the regular use of the library or require unusual duties of library staff. Library staff may not assist with event promotion; social media, recruitment, or advertising; event setup and takedown; childcare; crowd control or parking; food safety; media relations; legal support; or event security. Events requiring specalized services may be asked to find an alternative venue.

In addition, the following rules are in effect.

  • Events cannot exceed the maximum occupancy of meeting rooms (Community Room - 75, Small Meeting Room - 12, Office Area - 4).
  • Events must be scheduled during regular library hours.
  • Rooms must be booked by an adult who will be physically present for the entire event.
  • The organizer must provide a working phone number.
  • Groups may not store supplies or food at the library overnight.
  • Groups may not use the library as a mailing or delivery address, include the library or library logos on official documents or stationary, or otherwise imply that a group or event is sponsored by the library.
  • Events must be free and open to the public.
  • Events involving live animals or otherwise requiring a liability release must be preapproved by the Library Director.
Technology 

Patrons may bring their own devices and technology into the library, as well as use public access computers. The library's wi-fi network is free and open to the public. 

Accessing the Internet has inherent risks, which the library is not responsible for and cannot control. Information available on the Internet may be false, disturbing or objectionable, and participating in online activities may have other risks. Patrons are solely responsible for their use of the Internet. All patrons should review Internet safety rules and best practices.

Patrons' use of the Internet is not supervised, and Internet use records are confidential, as provided for in Florida law (Fl. Stat. 257.261). Websites accessed through library networks will have their own privacy polices and rules, which patrons should review before Internet use. The library does not have control over this type of information collection.

Public access computers and other library devices are available on a first come, first served basis. Where necessary, a chronological waiting list will be used.

Patrons may not attempt to alter security settings, device management software, or filters on public computers and devices.

Subject to availability, library staff may assist patrons with connecting to library networks, printing, using library technology, and other basic IT assistance. Library staff may not perform clerical tasks; handle personal information; provide legal or financial guidance (including choosing or recommending legal forms); recommend products or services; format complex documents or websites; provide services in patrons' homes; or program, set up or repair personal devices. Please seek professional assistance if advanced IT support is necessary.

In accordance with the federal Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) (Pub. L. 106-554), all library computers and devices are equipped with a technology protection measure to filter and block access to images that are obscene as defined in section 1460 of title 18, United States Code; or child pornography, as defined in section 2256 of title 18, United States Code; or harmful to minors as defined in section 1703, Pub. L. 106-554. The library may also use these filters to protect networks and equipment from malware or other security risks. However, no filter is 100% effective. They may not prevent access to all objectionable material, and some things that are not objectionable may be filtered by accident. Parents or adult guardians are solely responsible for supervising children's use of the library. 

 

Collection development 

JCPL works with its cooperative, the Wilderness Coast Public Libraries, to provide a collection of quality books and materials to the public. Items are selected based on a number of criteria, such as:

  • Patron requests.
  • Bestseller lists, preorders, and other indicators of demand.
  • Media coverage.
  • Professional book reviews, such as reviews in Library Journal or Horn Book.
  • Circulation statistics.
  • Local interest (e.g. books about Florida, Jefferson County, or the Big Bend).

Most books in the library are intended for a popular audience. If you need assistance with academic research, please speak with a staff member.

The library collection is also assessed regularly for quality and frequency of use. Items may be deselected (or discarded) due to damage or infestation, low circulation, lack of shelf space, availability of a newer edition, dated content, or to balance a collection that is too large relative to its usage. Items are not selected or deselected based on the item's point of view or the reputation of the author. Discarded items are made available to the public, donated to charity, or appropriately recycled.

Collection development staff welcome your feedback and requests. If an item is not available in the library, or you would like it in a different format, please fill out a request form. The staff will purchase the item or make it available through interlibrary loan. JCPL can request books from public and academic libraries across the United States.

Public libraries provide books on a wide variety of topics, for a wide variety of borrowers. Items are available so all members of the public can use their First Amendment rights to receive information, participate fully in society, and access multiple points of view. The availability of an item does not reflect the endorsement or recommendation of the library staff, the WILD consortium, Jefferson County, or the State of Florida. Patrons who believe an item does not meet selection criteria may request a reconsideration packet at any WILD library.

 

Privacy 

Unauthorized disclosure of library records is a misdemeanor under Florida law (Fl. Stat. 257.261). This protection starts at age 16. 

Your library record includes:

  • Your contact information.
  • The list of books you have borrowed.
  • Any book's checkout history.
  • When you visited the library.
  • How you used computers and devices.
  • When you access the Internet, your search history, or the websites you used.
  • Any information about your use of the library that could be tied to you. 
  • Your interactions with library staff.

It does not include:

  • Anonymized statistical information that is used to help the library qualify for funding or assess services and programs.
  • Information gathered by websites not owned by the library, or other third parties. Consult the policies of these websites or organizations to protect your privacy.
  • General information about the collection, such as the number of books that have circulated or how many times a book has circulated.

The library does not maintain records beyond what is necessary for library operations. Library records may only be disclosed to the person named in the records; in response to a valid court order; when required to recover overdue items; or to a parent, if their child is under 16. You can speak with a staff member if you need help accessing your library account.

Please note that the State of Florida has broad public records laws. It is the policy of the State of Florida that all records of the state or political subdivisions of the state are open for public inspection and copying, subject to certain exemptions. This policy is embodied in the Florida Constitution. When you use our site, you are acknowledging that any personal information you provide is subject to Florida's Public Records Laws as stated in Chapter 119, Florida Statutes, and Article I, Section 24, of the Florida Constitution. Under Florida law, e-mail addresses are public records. If you do not want your e-mail address released in response to a public records request, do not send electronic mail to this entity. Instead, contact this office by phone or in writing.

For details about how this website collects and uses your information, please review the website privacy policy.

Donations 

Due to staff and space constraints, the library is not able to accept books or other in-kind donations (donations of objects or goods). Consider donating items to the Goodwill Bookstore, Wag the Dog thrift store, or Better World Books. 

Financial donations can be made to the Friends of the Jefferson County Public Library. If you are interested in donating over $2500, gifting stock or other property, funding a specific program or purchase, or exploring naming opportunities, please call the library at 850-342-0205 to make arrangements.