Computer and Internet Policy

Purpose of the Policy

The Technology and Internet Use Policy outlines the mission and goals of the Somerville Public Library with regard to public internet access, and the devices and networking made available for accessing it, both within and outside of the Library. This policy also informs the public about the guidelines and procedures for internet and technology use.

Library Mission

The Somerville Public Library enhances the Somerville experience by acting as a trusted community connector, providing cultural and learning opportunities to all.

- Approved by the Somerville Public Library Board of Trustees October 16, 2019

Values Statement

We are committed to providing a welcoming and safe environment; courteous and respectful library staff; and free and equal access to library materials, programs, and services. We affirm the values set forth in the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights; serve as a trusted community resource; and hold dear the principles of Intellectual Freedom and a patron’s right to privacy. We offer enrichment through educational and cultural experiences, and instill a love of reading and learning driven by the ever-changing needs and interests of our patrons.

- Approved by the Somerville Public Library Board of Trustees October 16, 2019

Statement of Racial and Social Justice

The Somerville Public Library is committed to providing collections and services that are representative of the people and communities we serve. We stand with librarians across the country who recognize that systemic racism and social injustice left unchecked has led to an underrepresentation of voices that is reflected in our services, collections, and profession.

To create a more inclusive library, we will examine our policies, procedures, and collections; increase representation of marginalized groups in our programs and services; pursue learning opportunities that will confront our biases; and engage the Somerville community to inform our work. We pledge to work alongside Somerville’s Department of Racial and Social Justice, including the American with Disabilities Division, and other city departments, organizations, and people who are working to eliminate institutional racism and inequality.

- Reviewed by Somerville’s Department of Racial and Social Justice, May 4, 2022

- Approved by the Somerville Public Library Board of Trustees May 11, 2022

- Reviewed by the Somerville Law Department August 2022

Community Statement

The Somerville community is characterized by its multigenerational and ethnically diverse population, vibrant business community, and rich history and culture. Decisions regarding technology, including how to access and manage it, are made with an understanding of the dynamic and diverse nature of the community, enabling the Library to offer technology and computing services that reflect the community’s evolving interests and needs.

The Internet and Intellectual Freedom

To best ensure equitable and unrestricted access to the internet, and to uphold the principles of intellectual freedom as outlined by the American Library Associationi, the Library provides free, unfiltered internet access. While the internet provides access to information, ideas, and commentary from around the globe, it can also provide content that is offensive, illegal, and inaccurate. To make our spaces safe, welcoming, and equitable Library staff reserves the right to prohibit the public display within the Library of certain types of audio or visual content that might be upsetting or distracting to others. Library patrons are encouraged to educate themselves about how best to navigate the internet safely and securely.

Parental Responsibility and the Internet

As with access to all other materials in the Library's collections, patron access to the internet is not limited in any way, including for youth.ii The Library does not block or filter content, and any restriction of a child's access to the internet is the sole responsibility of the child's parent, guardian, or caregiver. Parents and guardians are responsible for overseeing their minor children’s use of the Library’s technology.

Use of Library Technology

To make our technology safe, welcoming, and equitable, users of Library technology are required to abide by the following guidelines for use. This applies to all Library technology, regardless of location, including internet connections (both networked connections and WiFi), and devices such as computers, printers, projectors, etc. Not adhering to these guidelines may result in a loss of access to Library technology.

  • Altering, removing, adding, or damaging configurations, software, or hardware on library technology is not permitted.
  • Patrons listening to audio or watching videos, or participating in online meetings, are required to use headphones while in Library buildings unless they are in a reserved conference, study, or meeting space. Library staff reserves the right to make exceptions as is needed or helpful.
  • The Library assumes no liability for any damage to user data, user equipment, or loss of user privacy sustained while using library technology, including the Library’s WiFi.
  • Troubleshooting issues with Library computers, printers, or other technology will be assessed and resolved by staff, and not by library patrons.
  • All patrons must adhere to all relevant Library policies, including the Rules of Conduct, while on Library grounds.

Acceptable Use

It is not acceptable to use Library internet access or technology for illegal or abusive purposes, including but not limited to:

  • Unauthorized copying of copyright-protected materials in any format.
  • Transmitting spam, junk mail, or attempting to acquire sensitive information by posing as a trustworthy entity (i.e., phishing).
  • Transmitting, receiving, or viewing threatening, obscene, or harassing materials, or materials that the law defines as obscene.
  • Transmitting computer viruses.
  • Unauthorized access to local or remote computer systems, including hacking, or other activities that compromise the privacy of others.

In order to ensure equitable access for all users:

  • Daily time limits may be enforced when using in-Library technology.
  • In-library computers are available on a first-come, first-served basis and may not be reserved in advance.
  • The Library may limit the number of days that patrons can borrow technology.

i "Access to Digital Resources and Services: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights", American Library Association, July 7, 2006. (Accessed April 7, 2023)

Document ID: 727d15b1-bf93-1ef4-417e-4a8c3847fa1f

ii "Access to Digital Resources and Services: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights", American Library Association, July 7, 2006. (Accessed April 7, 2023)

Document ID: 727d15b1-bf93-1ef4-417e-4a8c3847fa1f

Approved by the Somerville Public Library Board of Trustees December 13, 2023.

Reviewed by the Somerville Law Department January 11, 2024.