Libraries and the Internet Toolkit
Checklist for Creating an Internet Use Policy
The ALA strongly encourages all libraries to adopt, publicize,and implement a written Internet use policy in the same way they adopt other library use and access policies. This policy should be in keeping with your library's mission statement, other access policies and community needs.
In light of the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) decision, ALA urges any library using mandatory filtering software to consult with legal counsel to reevaluate its Internet Use Policy and assess the risk of future litigation.
Traditionally, the children's and young adult sections contain materials selected for these groups, although children are not restricted to those areas. The same holds true for the Internet.
Here are a few suggestions to consider when creating or updating your policies:
- Ensure that policies speak to access for all.
- Involve your library staff, board and Friends group in the policy writing process.
- Keep it simple. Avoid jargon. Making the policy too technical will confuse people.
- Make policies readily available and visible to the public.
- Provide an up-to-date code of conduct or etiquette guide for using the Internet at your library. Include specific suggestions for positive action. Also list prohibited behavior and the consequences of such behavior.
- Include a statement addressing patron privacy.
- Communicate clearly that users are responsible for what they access online; parents are responsible for their children's Internet use.
- Update your policy regularly; make sure it reflects the Supreme Court CIPA decision.
The following documents should be consulted when preparing or revising an Internet Use Policy:
- Privacy: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights
- Privacy Policies and Statements
- Questions and Answers on Privacy and Confidentiality
- Useful Sources on CIPA
More tips and sample policies can be found at Internet Use Policies.
Please send copies of your Internet use policy to the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom, 50 East Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60611, to keep on file. To receive samples of policies and materials from other libraries or other intellectual freedom materials, contact the Office for Intellectual Freedom at 800-545-2433, ext. 4223, or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. All of ALA's intellectual freedom policies and statements can be found on the OIF home page at http://www.ala.org/oif/.
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This document was last updated December 1, 2003
Links to non-ALA sites have been provided because these sites may have information of interest. Neither the American Library Association nor the Office for Intellectual Freedom necessarily endorses the views expressed or the facts presented on these sites; and furthermore, ALA and OIF do not endorse any commercial products that may be advertised or available on these sites.