An Invitation to Children
Dakota County Library System serves thousands of children every month. It welcomes children and encourages them to use Library facilities and services. The Library hopes these visits will be positive, enjoyable experiences for children and their parents.
The Library serves all children and caregivers by providing for their information and recreational needs in a stimulating environment that fosters a love of learning. We provide materials and programs to a diverse population and cooperate with other agencies serving children.
Responsibility of Parents and Library
The responsibility for children’s use of the Library rests with their parents or guardians. The parent or guardian can and should monitor and guide their children in the selection of appropriate materials for use or borrowing. The Library recognizes its responsibility for the selection of materials to meet the needs of the total community, the provision of trained staff to assist customers, and the operation of quality, user-friendly facilities. Library policies regulate public use to provide the most service to the greatest number of people.
Library Cards for Children
Children of any age may obtain a library card for borrowing materials by appearing at the Library in person and showing proof of identification with the current address. This usually requires a parent’s driver’s license or checkbook. The parent’s name is included on the registration form, but the Library does not require the parent to be present when a child’s card is issued, nor does it require parent’s permission or parent’s signature.
Borrowing Privileges and Library Use for Children
The Library Advisory Committee believes that a person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of the person’s age. Accordingly, the Library imposes no restrictions on the type of materials available to children. Children may use or check out all types of materials provided by the Library, including those primarily designated for adults. However, the inclusion of materials in the collection will not be inhibited by the possibility that such materials may be accessible to children. Parents and guardians are encouraged to guide their children’s selection of materials.
Fees and Fines for Children
Children are subject to the same fines and charges as adults. Children may borrow without restriction materials that carry a daily fee, such as rental books and videos. Most of these charges are due upon the return of the materials. Children are responsible for fines for lost or damaged materials, and fees for duplicate library cards or overdue reminder notices.
Viewing of Materials by Children
The Library imposes no restriction upon children’s right to view or use materials inside the facility. Children are allowed to use Library books, magazines, videos, video players, computers and other materials and equipment without the prior permission of parents. Parents should be aware that the resources of the Library are available to children. It is the parent’s right and privilege to guide and monitor their children in the use of these resources.
Parental Blocking of Children’s Use
The Library will place restrictions on an individual child’s borrowing privileges or other use at the parent’s request. The parent or guardian will be asked to fill out the "Blocking Library Materials" form. Library staff can block general formats or types of materials, but cannot block based on the content of materials. For example, a child’s borrowing of items carrying rental charges could be blocked at the parent’s request, but it would not be possible to block those containing offensive language. Parents may not place restrictions on other children not directly under their care.
Dakota County Library Policy on Unattended/Vulnerable Children
Dakota County Library welcomes children of all ages to use its facilities and services. Since all visits to the library should be positive, enjoyable experiences for children, their safety and well-being while they are in library buildings is of great concern.
Children should always be accompanied by a parent/guardian, stepparent or designated caregiver while in a Dakota County Library. Ultimate responsibility for the behavior and well-being of children using the library rests with the parent/guardian, stepparent or designated caregiver and not with the library’s personnel. Young children are not safe when left unattended at the library. Often they become frightened and anxious. Those that may be able to occupy their time for a short while can also become bored and restless which may lead to disturbing the work and study of others. Since responsible adults do not always stay with young children at our libraries, the following policy identifies the unattended and/or vulnerable child and addresses problems that may arise.
An unattended child is any young person using the library facility unaccompanied by a responsible adult or left alone in one part of the library while the adult is in another.
Because children develop and mature at different rates, there is no magic age at which all children are ready to cope with the variety of circumstances they may face alone in the library.
A vulnerable child is an unattended child whose safety or well-being could be endangered either in the building, or if they were to leave.
Circumstances such as darkness, severe weather conditions, fire alarms, or missed pick-up times may put children of a variety of ages at risk. Parents must realize that library staff have no way of knowing whether a person leaving the building with their child is a family member or not.
Library staff must use their judgment and discretion in determining whether or not an unattended child is vulnerable or at risk.
Items for Parents/Guardians/Caregivers to Remember
Under no circumstances should you assume your children are always safe in a library. Libraries are public buildings, open to any and all members of society.
Your older children may be ready to supervise younger children in your home by themselves, but not at the library. Libraries are much larger areas with many more people and distractions and your responsibilities to your younger children should not be delegated to another child.
Library staff must assist all customers in the library and they are not permitted to assume responsibility for the safety, care, supervision, or entertainment of specific children at the expense of others who may need assistance as well.