Reading Community Library

Child Safety & Behavior Policy

Children Alone in the Library: Guidelines for Parents and Staff

Addendum to Patron Rules & Guidelines
Children Behavior Policy
Adopted April 27, 2010

The Reading Community Library wants children to find the Library warm, inviting, enjoyable, and secure.  Because the staff has many duties to perform in order to help all of our patrons, they cannot monitor the whereabouts or behavior of children.  A child could be lured away by a stranger or become ill.  A child could wander outside and be injured.  An emergency could dictate that we evacuate the building.  Therefore, the behavior and welfare of children in the library are the responsibility of the parent, guardian, or caregiver of the child.    
1. Supervision of children: (An unattended child is a child of any age who is apparently unaccompanied by a parent or caregiver)

a. Preschool children should be in sight of and supervised by a parent, guardian, or responsible caregiver (16 years or older).  Parents or caregivers of preschool children are expected to remain in the library while attending library programs.

b. Children under the age of 7 must have a parent/caregiver in the same area of the Library as the child.  If a child under seven is found unattended or violates the Behavior Policy, the child and parent/caregiver may be asked to leave the Library.

c. Older children, ages 8 & over, whom are able to maintain proper library behavior may use the library unattended; otherwise they should be adequately supervised by a parent, guardian, or responsible caregiver.  If the adult feels it is unsafe for the child to leave the building without adult supervision, the child should not be in the Library unattended.

d. Children of any age with mental, physical, or emotional concerns which require supervision shall be accompanied by a parent, guardian, or responsible caregiver at all times.

e. In order to protect both the adult & minor patrons of the library, conversation between adults and children in the library unless the adult is the minor’s caregiver is forbidden.

2.  Staff may, as needed:

a.  Notify parents, guardians, or responsible caregivers whose children need additional supervision;
b.  Contact authorities such as the police or Child Protective Services (Department of Human  
     Resources) either to assist with the enforcement of discipline in the library or to ensure the 
     safety of an unattended child.
c.  Reasonable effort will be made to try and contact an unattended minor’s 
     parents/guardians should the need arise:  however it may be necessary to notify appropriate
     law enforcement or child protective authorities if:
          i.  An unattended child is being disruptive.
          ii.  A child is habitually left unattended for long periods of time.
          iii.  A child is deemed to be at risk of harm, as in the case of a child being left alone outside
               the building when the Library closes.
          vi.  An unattended child is injured or becomes ill.

3.  Staff will make a reasonable effort to ensure that minor children have a way home at closing time.

     a.  Fifteen to 30 minutes before closing time, staff will check with young patrons as to 
          their transportation home, informing them the library is closing and allowing them to use the
          phone, if necessary.
     b.  Emergency situations may force the Library to close without warning.  All children must have 
          the telephone number of someone to call for transportation if the need arises.
     c.  The local police or Child Protective Services will be contacted for any minor children remaining
          more than 15 minutes after closing.

In order to maintain a suitable environment for all users the above rules of conduct must be observed.  Parents and caregivers must abide by the above policy concerning children in the Library.  Libraries are public places and Library Staff cannot prevent children from interacting with or leaving the library with persons who are not appropriate caregivers. 

The library cannot be responsible for any consequences of caregivers forfeiting their responsibilities.  Library staff may refer to appropriate authorities those children who are left unattended in the library.

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