18. Internet Use

The Mercer County Library System offers internet access as a part of its mission to be the gateway to the growing universe of information by developing and providing open access to services and resources which are responsive to, and representative of, the diverse recreational, cultural and educational interests of the community. The Mercer County Library System takes pride in offering information and educational resources in many formats to its patrons. Resources available on the internet supplement and complement the collections of the Mercer County Library System.

Anyone using the library internet or WiFi access is required to review and agree to the library's Internet Use Agreement before using the internet or WiFi.

The Mercer County Library System supports the interpretation of the American Library Association's Access to Electronic Information, Services, and Networks; an Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights, which can be found in Attachment B, Library Bill of Rights.

A. Accuracy and Availability of Information

The internet and its available resources may contain controversial material. The Mercer County Library System has no control over the information accessed through the internet and cannot be held responsible for its content. Library users access the internet at their own discretion and are individually and totally responsible for any material they retrieve.

The library staff cannot control the availability of information links, which often change rapidly and unpredictably. Not all sources on the internet provide accurate, complete, or current information. Users need to be good information consumers, questioning the validity of the information they find on the internet. Users may seek help from professional librarians to verify information.

As time permits, a brief introduction to the use of the computer will be provided. Library staff is not available to offer extensive hands-on assistance to each computer user but will attempt to give limited assistance, when possible. The library offers classes and special programs, including one-on-one tutorials, as well as offering an online support form, for patrons requiring more in-depth help. Patrons may find these classes listed on the library's website, www.mcl.org, or in the printed branch calendars.

B. Child Safety on the Internet

Parents or guardians are responsible for the internet information selected and/or accessed by their children. Children who use the internet unsupervised may be exposed to inappropriate or disturbing information and images. Since wireless internet access in the library is unfiltered, parents and guardians are advised to place appropriate controls on, or restrict the use of, any personal mobile devices that may be used by minors for whom they are responsible.

Parents are encouraged to discuss the use of the internet in relation to family values and boundaries with their children and to monitor their children's use of the internet. To assist parents, the library can recommend the internet safety information found on the website of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The website for additional information is http://www.safekids.com/child-safety-on-the-information-highway. Also, parents may find information on the website of the American Library Association,  http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/notalists. Great Websites for Kids. Patrons can also seek guidance on appropriate sources of information from the Youth Services and Reference staff.

The internet is filtered based on the location of the PC. PCs located in the designated Children's sections are filtered using a CIPA (Child Internet Protection Act) compliant filter.

C. Rights and Responsibilities of Users

  • Many library computers on which the public can access the internet are located in public areas that must be shared by library users of all ages, backgrounds and sensibilities. Individuals are asked to consider this point when accessing potentially controversial information and images.
  • Patrons may request, or be asked to use, privacy screens, or may have their sessions terminated if the content they are viewing is of a private or controversial nature.
  • Library personnel do not monitor or supervise the internet access except for length of time of use. If internet searching results in disruption of library services, or if patron behavior when using internet resources becomes inappropriate for a library setting, the library reserves the right to end the session.
  • Viewing illegal materials, such as child pornography, or using the internet so as to cause harm to others and/or engage in illegal activity are considered inappropriate uses of our resources. Library patrons observed using the internet and PCs inappropriately will have their internet session terminated. The library reserves the right to revoke or suspend the library privileges or seek legal prosecution of patrons viewing illegal or inappropriate materials.

D. Inappropriate Use of Library Computers

Inappropriate use of the computers of the Mercer County Library System includes, but is not limited to:

  • Interfering, altering or damaging any library computer program, including disabling electronic filters.
  • Use of the internet workstations to gain unauthorized access to the library's computer system or any other network or computer system.
  • Violating the security system of the library's computers or any other network computer system.
  • Using any library workstation for illegal or criminal purposes.
  • Violating copyright laws or software licenses or agreements.
  • Employing the library's computers for libel, slander, forgery, and fraud or to transmit threatening or harassing material.
  • Displaying, sending, receiving or printing text, images or graphics of obscene material or materials harmful to minors.
  • Displaying, sending, receiving or printing text, images or graphics that violate laws relating to child pornography.
  • Engaging in activity that is deliberately offensive or creates an intimidating or hostile environment for library staff and patrons.
  • New Jersey Statute 2C:34-4 prohibits public communication of obscene material. Any patron viewing such material in a way that is publicly visible to other patrons or staff will be asked to use a privacy screen, refrain from viewing the material, or have their internet session terminated.

The library system takes seriously its obligation to provide an environment that is amenable to the information needs of many types of patrons, as well as their confidentiality. The library extends its privacy and confidentiality policy to all users of the internet. Patrons may request the use of a privacy screen at any time, and a screen will be provided by staff contingent upon the availability of a screen. If a staff member, at any time, believes that material displayed on a screen may distract or interfere with other patrons, the staff member may, at their sole discretion, direct the patron viewing such material to place a privacy screen on the computer screen. Failure to comply with such a directive may result in termination of a patron's computer session.

Patrons must use their own barcode to log-on. The use of a barcode other than their own will result in a suspension of computer privileges.

E. EnvisionWare Registration Software

EnvisionWare software is a PC and internet registration software product that runs on public access computers in academic and public libraries.

For each computer session, the software prompts the user to type in their library barcode number to uniquely identify themselves. The software validates the barcode number against a database of authorized users.

Internet users will need one of three cards to access the internet:

  1. Mercer County Library System Library Card issued in the patron's name.
  2. Internet-Only Card: Patrons not eligible for a traditional library card, but who would like to purchase an internet only card may do so for a one- time fee of $2.00. This card will only allow use of PC stations; internet-only cardholders will not be able to check out library materials. Internet-only cards are valid for one year from date of issuance, and renewable with a valid photographic ID, with current address. If lost, there is a $2.00 replacement fee.
  3. Guest Internet Pass: Individuals who are visiting the library and do not wish to register for a library card, but want to use our PCs, may obtain a guest pass. Guests should see a staff member for a guest pass. Registration will require some form of photographic identification, such as a driver's license or school identification card. Staff may use their discretion in issuing a guest internet pass in the event that the patron does not have a photographic ID. 

F. Duration of Usage

  • Library cardholders and Internet-Only cardholders will be allowed a standard allotment of 120 minutes of PC time per day. Patrons can use their allotted time all in one session, or in any increments the patron wishes, but patrons must have a minimum of 10 minutes of time remaining in order to log-on.
  • Guest Use . Guest passes are available for a standard allotment of 60 minutes of PC time per day.
  • Express PCs. Are available for 20 minute sessions.

G. Supplementary Time

Supplementary time may be granted for users who are approaching the limit of their standard allotment, and need to continue working beyond that limit. Patrons may request up to 30 minutes of additional time in addition to their standard allotment, subject to the indications specified below. Individuals using the Express PCs may request up to 20 minutes of additional time, subject to the indications specified below.

H. Limitations on Supplementary Time

Limitations on supplementary time will be imposed whenever there is a reasonably based risk that supplementary time on the computer would deprive another patron or guest the opportunity to make use of a public computer. If all public access computers are in use when a request for supplementary time is made, staff may decline to grant supplementary time, or limit supplementary time in 15 minutes increments, until another computer becomes available.

I. Saving, Printing and Downloading

If patrons wish to save a copy of their work, they may bring a flash drive for downloading. Information can be saved to the hard drive temporarily, but will be deleted when the patron logs-off or if the patron's session expires.

Patrons are responsible for logging off properly by using the "end session" button. Failure to do so may result in the temporary retention of personal information. Patrons should ask staff if they are unsure how to properly sign out of a session. To protect privacy, anything saved on the PCs will be deleted once the session ends. This includes files, passwords or website history. The software the library uses does not track internet activity.

Black and white printing cost $.10 per page. Color printing is $.50 per page. All printing may be paid at the reference desk.

If a patron experiences difficulty in using a computer they should notify staff immediately. They should not attempt to shut-off or reboot the computer; the PC will automatically reboot when a patron logs-off or their time expires.

The library reserves the right to terminate an internet session at any time. Staff can only provide limited assistance with internet searching and computer use.