Unattended Child Policy

The Montfort & Allie B. Jones Memorial Library is dedicated to providing a welcoming and safe environment for patrons of all ages.  The safety of children left alone in a library building is a serious concern of the library staff.  However, library employees cannot be responsible for children in the library.  The responsibility for the safety and behavior of children in the library rests solely with the caregiver and not with the library personnel.

Caregivers should be aware that the library is a public building and may be used by anyone.  Library staff are not able to prevent members of the public from entering the building or interacting with other patrons, including children.  As with any public place, it is the caregiver’s responsibility to ensure their child(ren) have been properly instructed on how to behave in order to maintain their own safety and the safety of those around them. The following guidelines will be observed concerning the care and behavior of young library users.

Children under the age of 8 must have a caregiver in the immediate vicinity of and in visual contact with the child. The assigned caregiver must be a responsible person at least 16 years of age and must carry emergency contact information. An exception would be children attending a library program without a caregiver in the room. However, the caregiver is expected to remain in the library building and immediately join the child at the end of the program.  Most library programs encourage caregivers to attend with their child(ren).

If a child in this age group is found unattended, library staff will attempt to locate the caregiver in the library and inform them of this policy. If the caregiver cannot be found, library personnel will attempt to contact the caregivers identified by the child and/or listed on the child’s library account.  If they cannot be reached or if library staff deem it appropriate for any other reason, the police will be called for assistance.

Children age 8 and older may use the library on their own. However, parents are still responsible for the actions and well-being of their child(ren). Patrons, including children of any age, may be asked to leave the library if they are using inappropriate behavior. If a child 8 and older is not able to leave the library on their own, they should not be in the library without a caregiver.

These age limits provide library staff and caregivers with a general guideline for determining whether or not it is appropriate for a child to be left unattended in the library.  Each child is different and matures and develops skills at their own pace.  With that in mind, the library has developed a set of behavioral guidelines for children in the library to complement the age limits.  Regardless of age, please ensure your child is able successfully complete the following tasks before they are left unattended in the library:

  1. Tell library staff their full name and the full name and telephone number of their caregiver;
  2. Browse shelves for books without pulling books onto the floor, pushing books to the back of the shelves, or placing materials where they do not belong;
  3. Use the restroom independently, including being able to use the restroom key to unlock the door;
  4. Use the library quietly and independently with little assistance from staff (i.e. we can help your child locate books, but they must be able to sit quietly and enjoy the books without adult assistance).

Regardless of age, the following behaviors are NOT appropriate and will result in the child being asked to return to their caregiver or leave the library:

  1. Running, fighting, or horseplay of any kind;
  2. Shouting, screaming, or throwing fits;
  3. Eating or drinking in the library;
  4. Damaging library property or misusing library materials;
  5. Harassing or disrespecting staff or other library users.

Closing Time

Children who do not have transportation home at closing time will be asked for telephone numbers of people who can pick them up at the library. If a child 17 or younger is not picked up at closing, library staff will call the Bristow Police Department.  Library staff will wait with the child until a caregiver or police unit arrives.

Library Card & Computer Use

All children under the age of 18 must have a parent or legal guardian with photo ID present in order to sign up for a library card.  The parent or legal guardian has the option to opt their child(ren) out computer privileges.  If an unattended child has no library card or their card reflects that they are not permitted to use library computers, library staff will not issue them a card or allow them to use the computers.  All policies regarding restriction of cards based on overdue materials, fines, or expired cards will be upheld for children of all ages.

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