POLICY ON UNATTENDED CHILDREN IN THE LIBRARY
POLICY STATEMENT: Service to children is a very high priority of the Livingston Public Library. Children of all ages are welcome and encouraged to use the Library’s materials, programs and services and every effort is made to have a pleasant and inviting library building. At the same time, the Library is an open, public building and the well-being and safety of young children left alone is a serious concern. Also, unattended children, left alone for an extended period of time, often become bored, restless or disruptive. Some children, especially younger children, can become frightened or anxious.
APPLICATION: This Policy governs patron rights and responsibilities. All references in this policy to “parent” shall include all biological, adoptive, step and foster parents and legal guardians, and any others with legal parental authority over a child.
PROCEDURES FOR IMPLEMENTATION: Parents and responsible caregivers are responsible for the care of their children while in the library and while using the Library’s facilities and resources. Library staff cannot and shall not assume responsibility for the care or supervision of children in the Library except to the same extent staff members monitor the behavior of all Library patrons. Children aged 9 and older shall be held to the same standards of conduct applicable to all other patrons.
The following guidelines have been established to ensure that children are safe and cared for while in the Library and have been made with the understanding that individual children mature at different rates.
Children under age 12: a parent or responsible caregiver (age 16 or older) must remain with the child or remain in the Library and be immediately accessible to the child at all times.
Children aged 16 and younger must be picked up from the Library prior to closing time or a staff member will notify the Livingston Police Department and ask them to take charge of the child.
It is not the intention of the Library to seek out unattended children, but rather, to have a reasoned response prepared if necessary. If problems arise while children are using the Library or if they are left alone, the Library staff will attempt to reach a parent. In certain circumstances, if no parent can be contacted, the police will be called. Supervisors and senior staff members in charge, directly or by delegation to an adult staff member, may contact the Department of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) or other authorities, such as the Livingston Police Department, in the event a child twelve (12) years of age or younger is left unattended in the Library, or if the parent/guardian or caregiver fails to supervise the child directly; for example by leaving the child alone in the Children’s Room.
The Director will send a follow-up letter to the parent(s) documenting any incident where a child is left alone, not picked up on time or where the child created a problem and a Library staff could not reach a parent or guardian.
Children are subject to the same rules of conduct as other patrons and are subject to the same consequences, including being asked to leave the Library. It is mandatory that the Library staff member notifies the parent of the child’s inappropriate behavior.
At Library closing time, or in the event of an early closing due to inclement weather, etc., if unattended children are still in the building, the Library shall contact the Livingston Police Department and ask them to take charge of the child(ren). Two staff members must stay with the child until he/she is in the custody of an appropriate caretaker.
Missing or Lost Child in the Library - If a staff member receives a report of a child lost or missing in the Library, that staff member immediately should ensure that a message goes out over the intercom directing that all staff members go quickly to the nearest exit, including emergency exits. Staff should distribute themselves so that as many exists as possible are covered, at least visually. The purpose of this directive is to prevent the child from leaving the Library either unattended or in the company of an unauthorized person.
When the child is found, a supervisor should send out an all-clear message, asking staff members to return to their work stations.
ENFORCEMENT/IMPLEMENTATION: The Director and all Library staff are responsible for implementing and enforcing this Policy. Violations of this policy shall constitute a violation of the Library’s Standards of Conduct Policy and will be addressed accordingly.
Approved by Board of Trustees June 17, 2003
Revised: May 12, 2004
Revised: June 14, 2011
Revised: February 9, 2016