Public Computers, Devices, and Internet Access Policy

The San Mateo County Libraries provides access to computers, other devices and the Internet as one means of fulfilling its mission to strengthen our community by creating an inclusive sense of place and an environment for learning. All resources accessible through San Mateo County Libraries are provided equally to all users, with the understanding that it is the individual user's responsibility to demonstrate good judgment, respect for others, and appropriate conduct while using Library resources and facilities.

Use of San Mateo County Libraries computers, devices and networks implies acceptance of this Policy. Library users are expected to abide by this Policy. Failure to adhere to these policies and laws can result in loss of library privileges and/or legal action.

Public Computers and Devices
It is illegal to physically or electronically modify library computer equipment or other devices, or tamper with hardware or software, as established in the California Penal Code, Section 502 et. Seq., opens a new window

In order to afford maximum access for all, San Mateo County Libraries regulates the amount of time each patron uses library computers and other devices. Staff will alter restrictions and exceptions based on patron demand for computers and other devices.

Internet Access
San Mateo County Libraries does not monitor nor filter Internet access for any users. As with other Library resources and facilities, parents or legal guardians are responsible for their children's use of the library computers, devices and Internet access. Parents or legal guardians must assume responsibility for deciding what resources are appropriate for their own children. It is both the right and the responsibility of parents and legal guardians to guide their own children’s computer and Internet usage. To ensure safe access on the Internet, for more information see our parent/guardian resources.

Library computers and other devices are in public areas and are shared by people of all ages and backgrounds; privacy screens are available upon request. Please respect others' rights to read and view. Unless a patron is viewing material that is harmful or obscene, staff will not interfere with a patron's right to privacy. All user activity on library computers, other devices, and networks should be in compliance with local, state and federal laws, including but not limited to the issues noted specifically below:

  • San Mateo County Libraries adheres to the legal standards established in the California Penal Code, Chapter 7.5, Sections 311-312.7, opens a new window, prohibiting the public display of obscene and harmful material. The viewing of obscene and harmful material on a computer screen in a public area, such as a library, constitutes public display and is therefore prohibited.
  • Our libraries are open to and used by children, and viewing obscene and harmful material in the presence of a minor is illegal (California Penal Code 313.1, opens a new window). Additionally, it is a violation of federal law to knowingly receive visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Anyone who does so is subject to federal criminal prosecution under the Protection of Children Against Sexual Exploitation Act of 1977 (18 USC 2252, opens a new window).
  • Copyright Law (United States Code Title 17, opens a new window) prohibits the unauthorized reproduction or distribution of copyrighted materials, except as permitted by the principles of "fair use." Patrons are responsible for determining legal use of copyrighted materials. Library staff are not authorized to give advice regarding whether any use of Internet material (or other intellectual property) is "fair use."

Wireless Use
San Mateo County Libraries offers wireless and computer-based Internet access in each of its locations, in part through our consortium, the Peninsula Library System. Users must agree to the Peninsula Library System’s Terms of Service for Wireless Use before connecting.

All rules and regulations listed here apply to wireless computer use, including the use of personal computers and other devices within the library accessing the wireless network. This policy also applies to the use of library computers, other devices and library wireless networks used outside of library locations.

Assumption of Risk
San Mateo County Libraries uses its best efforts to ensure network security, but users assume all responsibility for the use of its networks, including interference with the user's data and Internet traffic, and damage to software or hardware. The Library is not liable for the loss or compromise of any confidential or sensitive, or any other information, or for any and all damages resulting from that loss or compromise.

Approved by the Library JPA Governing Board on November 7, 2016.

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