Morrisville Public Library welcomes children and strives to provide a safe, stimulating environment for their educational and cultural needs. The goal of the staff and trustees is to insure that children feel secure and enjoy visiting the library, without interfering with other patrons’ use of the library services and facilities.
Morrisville Public Library, however, is not responsible for the welfare, or the whereabouts, of children who are left unattended in the library. The responsibility for the safety and the behavior of children rests with parents/guardians/caregivers, who are strongly urged to accompany children, especially younger children, on their visits to the library.
Staff does not perform daycare or babysitting duties, nor is it licensed to do so. Staff is engaged entirely in circulation, information, and other library service duties.
Parents/guardians are reminded that numerous unexpected events may occur if children are here unattended. A child could wander out of the library on his/her own, be approached and/or harmed by untrustworthy people who sometimes frequent public buildings, or be physically injured. The child could be asked to leave if in violation of library rules and policies (refer to Rules of Conduct Policy and Internet Access Policy). A child could be stranded at closing time or during an emergency closing. We advise that all children have an emergency contact telephone number with them at all times. However, if no parent or responsible adult is available or reachable by telephone, police assistance will be requested for the safety of the child.
Library staff maintains a record of all policy infractions at the library, including those involving unattended children. Policy infractions are subject to progressive disciplinary action up to and including suspension from the library building and grounds. Parents/guardians are notified should suspension be issued.
The library issues the following guidelines concerning the safety and behavior of children:
- Children 6 and under shall be accompanied and supervised at all times by a responsible caregiver who is at least 17 years of age.
- Children 7 to 10 years of age, who are using the Library’s resources or who are participating in a Library program shall be accompanied and adequately supervised by a responsible adult. A responsible adult is defined as a parent, guardian, teacher or assigned caregiver over the age of 17, who must remain in the Library for the duration of the visit.
- Children ages 11 and older may use the library independently for a reasonable period of time provided they follow the library’s policies set for all patrons. Children must have the telephone numbers of their parent, guardian or other responsible adult, who may be contacted to come and pick up the child in case of a health emergency, library closure or other special circumstance.
- Additionally, the library advises parents/guardians/caregivers to accompany children of any age who have emotional, mental, or physical concerns which render supervision necessary. The library staff will assist and accommodate those with special needs as much as is able, but library staff cannot assist them to the degree that those familiar with their needs are able to do so.
- Patrons under the age of 18 years of age who are registered in school must have a parent or guardian with them to use the library during regular school hours or on non-holidays.
- Any child under the age of 17 must have a signed permission slip from the parent/guardian in order to use the public computers. There is only one child allowed per computer at one time unless they are working on a school project.
- Parents are advised that, even in their absence, they are legally and financially responsible for their child’s behavior.
- The Library is not responsible for an unattended child while in the building or if they leave the Library premises.
- The Library recognizes that certain circumstances may have widely varying facts and conditions, and this policy does not take the place of the exercise of sound judgment in addressing particular circumstances. The Library staff on duty will follow guidance provided herein and will exercise sound judgment considering all relevant facts. This being said, the Library staff on duty can override these rules as necessary on a case by case basis dependent on actions taken by a particular child. If a parent/guardian feels their child was wrongly accused, they may ask to speak to the Library Manager.
Disciplinary Action for children under the age of 17
- Children who are unruly are to be spoken to by a library staff member. The staff member is to give the child a first warning, asking them to please keep the noise down and/or to stop any unnecessary behavior such as running, shouting, etc. If the behavior persists, the staff member should give a second warning, reminding the child that they are welcome in the library as long as they behave appropriately, but their current actions are disrupting others. Then tell them they have the option to quiet down or they will be asked to leave.
- If the child does not settle down after two warnings, the staff member should ask them to leave. Try to determine the name of the child and if possible the names of the parents/guardians. Then explain to the child that his/her behavior is not in accordance to library guidelines, that they are disturbing others, and that they will have to leave for the remainder of the day. Assure the child that a parent or guardian will be contacted about their behavior.
- If a child is under the age of 16, the staff member on duty must call the parent or guardian to pick up their child. If a responsible adult cannot be contacted within 15 minutes, the staff is to contact the Library Manager. The Library Manager reserves the right to contact the Sheriff’s department for assistance in order to preserve the Library’s operations and/or protect the interests of the child.
- If 16 years of age or over, a staff member will escort the child off the premises. If a child refuses to leave, contact the Library Manager. Do not physically touch a child.
- If a child is suspended for the remainder of the day and they are being supervised by a parent or guardian, the parent/guardian will be asked to leave too.
- Staff members must email the Library Manager with 1 hour of the incident (whether 1st or 2nd warning and/or suspension). The email must include date and time of these warnings or incidents, names of the offenders and the parent information and any comments made by the staff member or the child.
- Parents/guardians of said child will be notified of incidents by letter from the Library Manager. At the discretion of the Library Manager, repeat offenders may have their library privileges suspended for a period of time. Parents/guardians of the suspended children will be notified by letter as well. Copies of all letters sent to parents/guardians will be kept on file in the Library Manager’s office.
Unattended Children After Closing Time
Library staff will exercise appropriate procedures to ensure the safety of unattended children when the library is closing.
Parents must be aware of the Library’s hours and must arrange to pick up their children by closing time. We ask each parent to make advance arrangements to pick up or have their child picked up by a responsible adult by closing and to inform their children what action they are to take in the event of an unexpected closure of the Morrisville Public Library.
If an unattended child is still in the library at closing time, then the Library staff will act according to the following guidelines:
- Library personnel will not transport or escort the child to any location off the premises under any circumstances.
- Every reasonable effort will be made by the staff to assist the child in contacting an appropriate adult 15 minutes prior to the library closing.
- If no responsible adult is reached, or does not arrive within 10 minutes following closing, the library staff on duty will then call the Library Manager. The Library Manager reserves the right to contact the Sheriff’s department to request assistance at this point.
- The staff member on duty or Library Manager will wait until the Sheriff’s Officer or the responsible adult comes to pick up the child (whichever comes first).
- If the child leaves with the Sheriff’s department, Library staff will leave a note on the main entrance door stating, “Unattended child is in the custody of the Madison County Sheriff’s Department, 366-2318” once the child is in the care of the police. Names will not be stated on the note.
- Children ages 15 and under will not be left on the Library property unattended after library hours. If the child leaves the building prior to the arrival of a responsible adult, the Sheriff’s department may be contacted to protect the interests of the child.
The Library may have sudden emergencies such as lack of heat or electricity, significant inclement weather, etc. This may necessitate the Library closing without warning. Children should know what to do if the Library must close unexpectedly. If a child is left unattended during an emergency closing, then the same guidelines outlined above under “Unattended children after closing time” will apply.
VIOLATION OF THE UNATTENDED CHILD POLICY CONSTITUTES GROUND FOR SUSPENSION OF LIBRARY PRIVILEGES FOR THE ENTIRE FAMILY.
Failure to follow and abide by this policy may result in disciplinary actions by Library Staff or the Library Manager, as stated in the Library Rules of Conduct.