JEFFERSON COUNTY LIBRARY
PUBLIC SERVICES POLICY NO.: PUB91-6
UNATTENDED CHILDREN AND ABANDONED MINORS
REVISED FEBRUARY 2006
The library is a public building available for use by everyone. Because it is a place where children gather, it may attract people whose interest in children is not entirely wholesome. The safety and security of children left on their own without supervision in a library building is of serious concern to the Jefferson County Library District Board of Trustees, administration and staff. For the protection and well-being of children who visit JCL libraries, the following policy has been established:
The responsibility to supervise a child using the library rests at all times with that child’s parent or legal guardian, or a caregiver designated by the parent or legal guardian. JCL staff has other necessary duties that prevent them from providing that level of individual supervision for children using the library. JCL staff also lacks legal standing to provide such supervision since they may not act in loco parentis. When children attend activity programs sponsored by the library they are supervised by JCL staff only during the scheduled time of the program and only in the room or area where the program is presented. Children age 3 or younger who attend library programs must be accompanied in the room or area where the program is presented by a parent or legal guardian or designated caregiver (over the age of 16).
Because the supervision library staff can provide is limited, we strongly recommend that children of all ages should be accompanied to the library by their parent or legal guardian or a caregiver designated by the parent or legal guardian.
For their own safety and security, children 6 years old and younger must be continually attended by a parent or legal guardian, or a caregiver (over the age of 16) designated by the parent or legal guardian, at all times while in the library. A parent or legal guardian or a caregiver (over the age of 16) must accompany children between the ages of 7 and 10 but does not need to continually attend them so long as the parent or legal guardian or designated caregiver is present and available in the building.
Children age 11 and older who are left on their own at the library should have with them a phone number where a parent or legal guardian or designated caregiver may be reached as needed. Parents and legal guardians or designated caregivers must understand that they are still responsible for the behavior of their children while the children are using the library. Children who misbehave, refuse to follow directions of library staff, disrupt the orderly conduct of the library, interfere with staff carrying out their duties, or prevent other patrons from using the library, may not remain in the library. Library staff will notify their parent or legal guardian or designated caregiver to remove the child(ren) from library premises.
If the child refuses to give library staff a phone number where the parent or legal guardian or designated caregiver can be reached, or if the parent or legal guardian or designated caregiver cannot be reached, or when reached, is unable or unwilling to remove the child(ren) from the library in a timely manner, library staff may require the child(ren) to remain seated under the direct supervision of a library staff member until the parent or legal guardian or designated caregiver arrives. The library staff may at that time give the parent or legal guardian or designated caregiver written notice that the child(ren) has been suspended from using the library for a period of time appropriate to the disruption caused.
If the parent or legal guardian or designated caregiver is unable or unwilling to remove the child(ren) from the library in a timely manner, and the child(ren) continue to disrupt the orderly conduct of the library, the library staff may invoke the provisions of this policy that apply to minors abandoned at the library (see below).
For purposes of this policy, minors shall be defined as library patrons under the age of sixteen.
The Jefferson County Library District’s Board of Trustees states that the fundamental responsibility for a minor’s physical well being remains with the parent or legal guardian of that minor. This policy is enacted because of numerous incidents involving minors left at library facilities after the announced closing time.
Parents and legal guardians, and caregivers designated by parents and legal guardians should be familiar with the library’s hours of operation and should not leave minors on their own and unsupervised before the library opens or after it closes. Also, parents, legal guardians and caregivers should be aware that the library may be closed or close early due to scheduled holidays, or unscheduled occurrences such as severe weather or other emergencies. Prior arrangements and contingency plans for IMMEDIATE pick-up in such instances should be discussed with the minor in advance.
The District can assume no responsibility for minors on library property, who are not physically within the library building at closing time, nor can the District assume responsibility for minors on library property outside the library building before the library’s opening time.
If minors are in a building at the time of closing and have no means of transportation, the library staff will obtain their names and addresses, their phone numbers, and the names of their parents or legal guardians or caregivers designated by the parents or legal guardians. Library staff will telephone the parents or guardians or caregivers and request the immediate pick-up the minor(s). Library staff will follow up with letters to the parents or guardians explaining closing hours, library responsibility for the minor(s) safety, and other specifics delineated in this policy. Two staff members should stay with the minor until the situation is resolved.
If the minors are not picked up within twenty (20) minutes after the parent, guardian or designated caregiver has been contacted, the library staff will contact the municipal police department where the library is located and report abandoned minor(s), and request that the police take custody of the minor(s) The libraries in unincorporated areas will contact the sheriff’s department Library staff will leave a note prominently displayed on an exterior door to inform the parent or guardian or designated caregiver that the minor(s) have been turned over to the custody of the police or sheriff’s department, and where the minor(s) have been taken by the police or sheriff’s department.