Computer & Internet Safety & Usage Policy

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Update: Effective July 1, 2018 at all Norfolk Public Library locations, black & white printing will cost $.15 per page, starting with the first page. Color printing is $.25 per page where color printers are available. 

Norfolk Public Library Computer & Internet Policy

Policy Statement

The Norfolk Public Library (NPL) provides computing resources which allow public access to a variety of networked electronic resources, including in-house databases, the Internet, U.S. government publications in electronic format, and NPL-owned software such as word processing and publishing programs. NPL reserves the right to set rules as needed to provide equitable computer use and to revise this policy in response to changes in, or concerns about, NPL's computing environment.

It is the policy of the Norfolk Public Library to: (a) prevent user access over its computer network to, or transmission of, inappropriate material via Internet, electronic mail, or other forms of direct electronic communications; (b) prevent unauthorized access and other unlawful online activity; (c) prevent unauthorized online disclosure, use, or dissemination of personal identification information of minors; and (d) comply with the Children’s Internet Protection Act [Pub. L. No. 106-554 and 47 USC 254(h)].

To the extent practical, technology protection measures (or “Internet filters”) shall be used to block or filter Internet, or other forms of electronic communications, access to inappropriate information. Specifically, as required by the Children’s Internet Protection Act, blocking shall be applied to visual depictions of material deemed obscene or child pornography, or to any material deemed harmful to minors. Subject to staff supervision, technology protection measures may be disabled or, in the case of minors, minimized only for bona fide research or other lawful purposes.

To the extent practical, steps shall be taken to promote the safety and security of users of the Norfolk Public Library’s online computer network when using electronic mail, chat rooms, instant messaging, and other forms of direct electronic communications. Specifically, as required by the Children’s Internet Protection Act, prevention of inappropriate network usage includes: (a) unauthorized access, including so-called ‘hacking,’ and other unlawful activities; and (b) unauthorized disclosure, use, and dissemination of personal identification information regarding minors.

To the extent practical, it shall be the responsibility of members of the Norfolk Public Library staff to supervise and monitor usage of the online computer network and access to the Internet in accordance with this policy and the Children’s Internet Protection Act. Procedures for the disabling or otherwise modifying any technology protection measures shall be the responsibility of the Library’s Automation Department Supervisor or designated representatives.

Libraries rely upon the cooperation of their users in order to efficiently and effectively provide shared resources and ensure community access to a wide range of information. If individuals violate policies in any way, their access to computer resources may be suspended (see Library Code of Conduct). Individuals using Library computing resources for illegal purposes may also be subject to prosecution.


1. User Responsibilities

Users are responsible for the following to ensure fair and proper use of Library computing resources. If users fail to comply, access to Library computing resources may be suspended.

  • Conduct: Users must observe the Library Code of Conduct as it specifically relates to use of Library computer resources.
  • Copyright: Users must observe copyright and communication laws.
  • Equipment: Users may not tamper with or reconfigure equipment, software, or data belonging to the Library or other users.
  • Legal Use: Users may not use the Library's computer equipment for engaging in any illegal activity.
  • Downloads: Downloading executable files to the hard drive is not permitted.
  • Privacy: Users must observe the right of others to privacy.
  • PINs: To protect patron account information, personal identification numbers (PINs) can only be issued or reset in person upon presentation of an NPL library card or a valid photo ID with a current address that matches library records.
  • Software: Use of non-Library software is not permitted.
  • Sounds and visuals: Users shall refrain from the use of sounds and visuals which disrupt the ability of other Library patrons or the staff to use the Library and its resources.
  • Sharing Computers: Users may work together at a single workstation as long as they do not crowd others or become disruptive.
  • Viewing of movies on DVD: Movies on DVD may not be viewed on Library computers. In part this policy is to help ensure that the public computers, which are a limited resource, are available for homework, job hunting, résumé writing and other essential tasks which the Library views as priority activities. Additionally, many movies on DVD contain scenes not suitable for viewing by children who may be in the public computer area.

2. Internet-Specific User Responsibilities

Being a global network of computers, the Internet provides access to a wide variety of educational, recreational, and reference resources, many of which are not available in print. Because the Library cannot control Internet content, the Library cannot protect persons from information found individually offensive.

  • Due to the extensive and changing nature of the Internet, patrons must understand that NPL staff may be limited in their ability to provide assistance.
  • Children and the Internet: Consent given on the part of parents or guardians for a Library card constitutes acknowledgment by the parent or guardian that they have a responsibility for monitoring their child's use of all Library resources, including the public computers.
  • Accuracy of Internet information: NPL cannot ensure the availability or the accuracy of electronic resources. Like print materials, not all electronic materials provide accurate, complete, or current information. Users need to be good information consumers, questioning the validity of information. 

3. Child Internet Protection Act (CIPA) Compliance

  • Because NPL receives federal funding for public Internet access, federal law requires NPL to install blocking software on NPL's Internet terminals.
  • The purpose of this software is to protect minors from exposure to Internet sites that are deemed to be obscene, pornographic, or harmful to children.
  • Under Virginia state law, Library staff can unblock individual websites that have been erroneously blocked by the filter. In addition, Library staff may disable the filter for patrons 17 and over upon request. Filters on PCs in Children's areas cannot be disabled.
  • In compliance with the Children's Internet Protection Act, Internet access on all Norfolk Public Library computers is filtered for pornography. In accordance with Library policy, Internet access on all public computers is also filtered for banner ads, web proxy servers, and anonymizers.

4. Reservations

Reservations may be made up to twenty-four hours in advance either in person or by phone. Patrons are responsible for notifying the Library if they cannot come at their reserved time. 

5. Time Limits

Patrons with their Library cards are allotted a maximum time slot of up to 2 hours per day system-wide, except at Slover Library where computer time is not limited.

Additional time beyond the maximum may be granted in one hour increments by the branch manager or designee if computers are otherwise not in use or reserved.

6. Library and Internet Cards

Patrons who want to use Library computers must obtain a library card or Internet only card. Library card eligibility is described in the Library Card Policy of the Circulation Policies. Internet cards provide Internet only access for patrons who do not want a library card or are visitors who only want to use Library computers. Patrons may only have a library card or an Internet card, but not both.

Library and Internet cards are nontransferable - they may not be shared, borrowed, or lent to, or used by anyone other than the registered patron matching that card. Patrons violating time limits may lose complete computer use privileges for the day. Further abuse will be dealt with using Section 1A of the Library's Code of Conduct.

To obtain an Internet Card:

  1. Any adult patron may receive an Internet card upon completion of an application and provision of proof of identification (ID).
  2. On the library card application, the applicant must provide:
    • full, legal name
    • address
    • date of birth
  3. Acceptable photo ID (unexpired or expired) shall be one or more of the following:
    • Government issued driver's license
    • Government issued photo identification card
    • Government issued photo passport or visa
    • Non-government photo ID from an approved list of providers may be sufficient to obtain an Internet Card (i.e., from a local shelter or other Human Services agency)
  4. Anyone under the age of 18 can receive a juvenile Internet card after completing an application and securing the signature of his or her parent or legal guardian. A photo ID is not required. Children must be present in order to apply for an Internet card.
  5. Emancipated minors who have proof of their court ordered emancipation and acceptable photo ID may receive an Internet card without parental consent.

All Internet library cards are valid for one year. At the end of that year, patrons will be asked to verify their address.

Lost, Stolen, or Previously Issued Internet Cards:

  1. Patrons must report lost or stolen cards immediately.
  2. There is a charge of $1.00 to replace a lost Internet card.
  3. In the event that a card is reported stolen, the branch manager has the option of waiving the replacement fee.
  4. If a patron reports a card lost or stolen, the patron must provide identification in order to get a new library card in addition to paying the $1.00 replacement fee.
  5. Children under the age of 18 who do not have picture ID, must give their address in order to get a new card in addition to paying the $1.00 replacement fee. The address must match exactly that on the patron's account in the Library's records. In the event that the address does not match, the child must bring a new, signed application to get a new Internet card.
  6. If a patron comes to the circulation desk with a previously issued Internet card, i.e. a card that has been replaced with another card, the patron must show identification before the staff person will look up the current card number.

7. Printing

Only library-provided paper may be used in the library printers. The cost of printing is 15 cents per page for black and white and 25 cents for color, starting with the first page. All printing must be prepaid. All printing accounts are allowed a maximum deposit of $20.00. Money cannot be refunded or utilized for any other purpose.

By Virginia State Law, Code of Virginia, 55-210.12, funds in accounts that have been inactive for a year will be transferred to the State Treasury and CANNOT be reclaimed. 

8. Storage Devices

Patrons must use their own storage devices to download files. The Library is not responsible for storage devices or for the correct downloading of files.