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Policy for Supervising Unattended Children In The Library

I. Introduction/Needs Statement

The Trustees and staff of the Jamestown Philomenian Library hope that the children who use the library will find it as a warm, inviting, and fun place. We encourage children of all ages to visit the library with their parents to take advantage of the resources available to them to meet their informational, recreational, and educational needs. Many programs are offered to make libraries enticing to children and to help children develop a love of books, reading, and libraries.

However, a growing concern is the number of young children left unattended in the library. The library staff is not responsible for the supervision of children left unattended by their parents. For the protection and well being of children who enjoy libraries, the following policy has been established.


Children who are seven years of age or younger must be attended by a parent or a responsible child care provider while in the library.


III. Problem Definition

A. Children using the library
  1. Children who are eight years of age or older may be left unattended by a parent for a maximum of one hour unless attending a scheduled library program.
  2. Children who are seven years of age or younger attending a library program should be brought into the building by a parent or responsible child care provider. Children attending programs are supervised by the library staff and for the purpose of this policy are considered attended.
  3. Children under the age of seven may not be left at the library if they are attended only by a sibling who is eleven years of age or younger.
  4. If an unattended child indicates symptoms of a medical emergency, the staff shall call the police and/or an ambulance immediately.
B. Behavior In the library

Young children may be able to occupy their time for a short while, but, being children, soon become bored and restless, disturbing the enjoyment of others. Disruptive behavior is unacceptable in a library.
Disruptive behavior that is unacceptable in the library includes, but is not limited to:

a. running, chasing

b. shouting, loud conversation, foul language

c. throwing books or toys

d. bullying or bothering other people

e. consuming food or drink in the library

f. vandalizing library property or facilities


Appropriate behavior includes:

a. doing homework, writing, researching, studying

b. browsing, reading

c. using puzzles and toys in a quiet manner


IV. Procedures For Staff

A. Responsibility for Transfer of Children
  1. Parents will be responsible for being present at the close of children's programs.
  2. They will be responsible for knowing when the program ends.
B. Interior Action

If a child is misbehaving or is requiring constant attention:
  1. Will ask the child to correct his/her behavior.
  2. If the disruptive behavior continues, a staff member should inform the parents that their child is disturbing others.
  3. If the parents refuse or are unable to correct the behavior, the family will be asked to leave.
  4. If the child is unattended and the disruptive behavior continues, he/she will be told to sit quietly at a table closest to the librarian�s desk. The staff will obtain parents� names and attempt to locate a parent. When a parent can not be located in the building, the staff will attempt to contact a parent and that parent will be told that his/her child is being disruptive and must be picked up immediately.
  5. In extreme cases where physical harm or property damage is possible, it may be necessary to contact police for a disruptive child who is twelve years old or younger.
  6. In the case of an older child, age thirteen and up, the child may be asked to leave the library. If the child refuses and disruptive behavior continues inside or outside the building, the person in charge will call the police to assume responsibility for the child.
C. Exterior action

A vulnerable child* is alone in the library at closing time.

In making a decision regarding a vulnerable child, the person-in charge will act as if his or her child Is the child being left alone in the library at closing time. Staff will consider the age, size, mental capability, and emotional stability of the child.

If the person-in-charge decides to stay with the child, the following procedures will be followed:
  1. Library staff should attempt to call a parent. If the staff cannot reach a parent within fifteen minutes after closing, the person-in -charge will call the police to assume responsibility for the child.
  2. Two staff members will remain with the child until the parent or the police arrive.
  3. The library staff or the police will give a copy of this policy to the parent and explain it to him or her.
  4. The library staff will under no circumstances transport or take the child away from the building.

D. Documentation

In the case of either a disruptive or unattended or injured child where action as outlined above has been taken, a report will be sent immediately to the Director�s Office and a copy will be filed at the library.


* A vulnerable child is an unattended child whose safety or well-being would be endangered if he/she were sent out of the building.

Accepted Sept. 20, 1990 (Much of this policy is borrowed from the policy of the Cranston Public Library.