Columbus Junction Public Library
14: Safe Children Policy
1. The Columbus Junction Public Library wants to be a welcoming, safe place for all patrons, including all children. All CJPL staff are committed to providing the best quality service possible, for all patrons, and have a number of services to provide at all times. For these reasons, staff cannot assume the responsibility of the care of children while in the library. No public place, including the library, can guarantee the safety of children at all times. A child could be approached by a stranger, become ill, wander outside, or become lost or injured. CJPL is primarily concerned with safety for all, and we believe this policy will help to ensure the safety and well-being of our youngest patrons. We expect parents/caregivers to be responsible for their children’s behavior in the library.
2. All children age five years or younger shall, at all times, be attended and adequately supervised by a responsible person, either an adult or a mature adolescent.
3. Children who are over five years of age, but who are less than nine years of age may be left unattended for up to one hour in the Library to attend scheduled Library programs. During this time the person responsible for the supervision of the child or children may elect to be absent for the duration of the program. If the person responsible for supervision intends to leave the building while the child remains at the Library, then that person shall leave word at the central desk area as to their whereabouts. However, persons responsible for children who have special problems, related to physical or mental ability, disruptive behavior, emotional problems, lack of adequate attention span, incomplete social skills, etc. shall remain with their children at all times.
4. Children nine years and older may use the Library unattended subject to all rules, policies and regulations formulated by the Library concerning behavior, conduct, and demeanor. However, parents/caregivers should consider not just the age of the child, but the ability to handle many different types of situations, including but not limited to who to call in an emergency/in case of an early closure and knowing those phone numbers, how to respond to illness/injury, how to monitor/regulate chronic medical conditions, how to communicate needs with staff, ability to follow the appropriate rules in the library/patron code of conduct, stranger danger skills, etc. There may be times when children 9 years old or older are not able to do those things and would still continue to need supervision by a parent/caregiver/other responsible person while at the library.
5. Children who cannot supervise themselves in accordance with Library policy should not be left unattended in the Library. Library staff is not licensed to provide day care service for children left in the Library, nor is the library able to monitor for safety and behavior of all children while still providing all available library services to all patrons. For these reasons, as well as in addition to patron privacy, the library is also not able to assume the role of school truancy officer. Should children be present during typical school hours, CJPL staff have no responsibility for reporting this to any authority, nor are staff allowed to ask why a child may be present, or answer questions as to a child’s presence to others who may ask. The decision for children to be present during the typical school day continues to be a parental/guardian/caregiver decision, and the library assumes no responsibility in this. The library is a public place and cannot bar entrance to anyone based on any presumed information (ie being a young child who “should” be in school during those times, presenting as ill, etc). Likewise, the library is unable to assume the responsibility of a medical professional and is unable to provide care for ill children/adults during business hours. Staff is not trained/equipped to diagnose illness or discern whether presenting symptoms are based on a chronic condition or active illness; CJPL trusts that parents/guardians/caregivers are making the decision to make visits to the library and to participate in library sponsored programming when well enough to do so, both for themselves as well as those in their care.
6. When unattended children are left in the Library at closing time, the staff will attempt to contact parents or guardians. If it is not possible to make telephone contact, or if the telephone call does not result in prompt arrival of those responsible for the child, the police department will be called and will assume responsibility for the situation. Parents/guardians/caregivers should again consider the child’s ability to relay pertinent information, phone numbers, and knowledge of approved plans for transportation, emergencies, etc., before allowing a child to remain at the library without supervision.
7. The Library assumes no responsibility for children left unattended on the Library premises, as library staff have many responsibilities and strive to provide high quality service to all patrons. The library is a public building and open to anyone, law-abiding or otherwise. However, all CJPL staff are good-natured, caring, and competent professionals and citizens in our community; should emergency situations arise, staff will do their best to aid anyone needing assistance within the parameters of ability to do so and will attempt to provide resources to assist inasmuch as possible as well. Staff also want to be notified of behavior that is inappropriate, based on our patron code of conduct, so that these situations may be addressed so as to not continue. We strive for each visit to the library to be pleasant and enjoyable, with respect and courtesy shown to all our patrons.
Written February 2000
Adopted April 2000
Revised April 2008
Reviewed March 2009
Reviewed December 2015
Revised December 2016/Revisions Adopted January 2017, with credit given to St. Mary’s Public Library (St. Marys, PA) & Hamilton North Public Library (Hamilton, IN)