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Internet Services Policy

Haldimand County Public Library (HCPL) is pleased to provide public access to the Internet in keeping with its mission statement to provide ”high-quality, responsive library services and programs that enhance the cultural, educational, social and economic vitality of the community.” This policy ensures that the public is aware of responsibilities and risks in the use of computers, the Internet and wireless access at the Library.

1. Levels of Access

HCPL strives to balance the rights of users to access a wide range of information resources with the rights of users to work in a public environment free from harassing sounds and visuals.
Internet workstations are situated in public spaces designed for people of all ages, including children. Content being viewed by customers may be seen by other people, and customers using either Library or privately-owned devices (e.g., laptops) are expected to use the Internet in accordance with the sensitivities of what would be deemed appropriate in a public environment.

HCPL endorses as policy the Ontario Library Association’s Statement on the Intellectual Rights of the Individual. At the same time, HCPL supports and adheres to the Canadian Copyright Act, the Criminal Code of Canada, and other legislation governing access to expressions of knowledge and intellectual activity. As such, HCPL provides two levels of Internet access on its public PCs: open access and family-friendly. Wireless connections are open access only.

2. Internet Filters

HCPL has implemented control mechanisms to prohibit access to information deemed to be illegal or inconsistent with its mission and service goals.
HCPL’s “open access” computers and wireless connections are filtered for:

  • The restrictions on communications as specified in the Canada Criminal Code, namely: child pornography, obscene material, hate propaganda and sedition (as HCPL’s filtering system does not differentiate between child pornography and pornography, the category of “pornography” has been eliminated for both open access and family-friendly.)
  • Hacking/proxy avoidance systems sites

HCPL’s “family-friendly” computers offer a higher level of filtering protection, mitigating against the unintentional exposure of customers to potentially offensive or age-inappropriate images. HCPL reminds parents and guardians that it is their responsibility to ensure that children use the library’s Internet stations and connections safely and appropriately.

HCPL converts membership status from juvenile to adult when a patron enters high school.

Popular web-based email sites such as Hotmail, along with MSN Messenger and Facebook, are available on both “open access” and “family-friendly” computers. Microsoft Outlook is not installed on public PCs; persons wishing to access an Outlook account may do so if their service provider offers remote (web-based) access.


Filter Blocked Websites

Users will receive a message from HCPL’s filtering software when a website is restricted based on filter parameters. Library staff are unable to override these blocks on demand. If users wish to access blocked sites they will be asked to complete a “Request for Reconsideration of Restriction of Access” form, which will be reviewed by Library Management and Haldimand County Information Systems staff, and a decision will be made within 48 hours. Internet users who are dissatisfied with the decision may request that the Library Board re-visit the Request for Reconsideration.

3. Reserving Computers/Accessing a Wireless Connection

  1. A valid adult HCPL card or a valid adult library card from reciprocal borrowing libraries is required to book an “open access” computer. Courtesy guest cards are available for use by visitors. Identification verifying name and address is required.
  2. A valid adult or juvenile HCPL card or a valid adult or juvenile card from reciprocal borrowing libraries is required to book a “family friendly computer”. Courtesy guest cards are available for use by visitors.
    Identification verifying name and address is required.
  3. Parents or guardians who wish their child to use an “open access” computer must make the reservation or access request using their adult card and accompany the child during the session.
  4. Library cards are non-transferable for the purpose of reserving computers or registering for wireless connections.
  5. Wireless connections are open access only and to not require a membership card.

4. Public Computers

  1. HCPL uses software to administer and manage public computer reservations. The software also tracks application usage. While it does not monitor Internet site visits, the software can relate activities to specific users chronologically. Users accessing a public computer will be prompted to agree to the Library’s Internet and Computer Acceptable Use Policy before proceeding.
  2. Making a reservation which is unavoidably cancelled due to system, equipment or connection failure or experiencing technical difficulties or slow connection speeds during a booking does not entitle users to take priority over subsequent bookings or have additional time. Library staff will offer alternatives where possible.
  3. No more than two people are permitted at a public computer station at one time.
  4. Assistance is provided by library staff as time permits. Personal tutorials can be scheduled in advance where staffing levels allow. Industry Canada Community Access Program grants for student employment periodically enable the Library to offer greater levels of tutorial assistance; the availability of these grant-afforded opportunities will be publicized.
  5. There is no fee for use of public access computers. Computer time may be booked in advance, or used on a drop-in basis, subject to availability. Initial bookings are for one-hour periods. Printing charges, at the posted rates, do apply.

5. Wireless Connections

  1. Users accessing a wireless connection will be prompted to agree to HCPL’s Internet and Computer Acceptable Use Policy before proceeding.
  2. There are no time restrictions on wireless access connections. Periods of inactivity may prompt the users to re-login.
  3. Wireless service will be available during Library operational hours and may be affected by existing bandwidth capabilities and traffic levels. Wireless traffic will be limited to the protocols supported on the public PCs to provide equitable service to users of both wired and wireless connections. HCPL reserves the right to make changes to the protocols provided based upon Library security requirements. HCPL cannot guarantee that wireless service will be available at any specific time or at any specific speed, nor can HCPL accept reservations for wireless access.
  4. HCPL assumes no responsibility for connections made within library facilities to external wireless networks or for activity transmitted over those external connections.
  5. Users are responsible for setting up their own equipment to access HCPL’s wireless network. Library staff are not permitted to assist customers with their computers or with the configuration of their computers. HCPL does not accept responsibility for any damage, theft, alterations, interference or loss of any kind to a user’s equipment, software, data files or other personal property brought into or used at the Library’s facilities.
  6. HCPL makes no guarantee as to the compatibility of any equipment with the Library’s wireless network.
  7. HCPL does not guarantee access to electrical outlets. Patrons should bring a fully-charged battery. Users may not unplug library electrical devices in order to plug in their laptops or other equipment. Users may not plug devices into an outlet where they will block the aisles, exits or access to library materials.
  8. HCPL reserves the right to withdraw wireless access from a user with a spyware infection in order to protect its network bandwidth. Virus and security protection is the responsibility of the patron.

6. General Conditions of Use

  1. HCPL requests that people use public computers and Internet connections responsibly and requires that users abide by the following conditions:
  • HCPL makes no representation or warranty that Internet services will meet users’ requirements, or that the service will be uninterrupted, timely, secure or error-free.
  • It is the users’ responsibility to familiarize themselves with applicable library policies, copies of which are available at the front desk and on the Library’s website.
  • Public computers and wireless access points are situated in a public areas shared by users of all ages. Users are asked to consider this when accessing potentially controversial information or images. HCPL reserves the right to ask individuals to refrain from displaying text and graphics which are illegal, or could be construed by some to be obscene or offensive.
  • A current HCPL card, reciprocal borrowing card, or courtesy card is required to access the Library’s public computers.
  • Use of Internet workstations or privately-owned devices (e.g, laptops) within the library for illegal, actionable or criminal purposes or to seek access to unauthorized areas, including, but not limited to the following, is prohibited:
    • Infringement of copyright and other intellectual property rights;
    • Use of computers or personal equipment for illegal or criminal purposes or to seek access to unauthorized areas;
    • Altering, tampering with or damaging the Library’s computer equipment, software configuration or network. This includes subverting or attempting to subvert any security devices in either software or hardware format which the Library has installed.;
    • Intentional propagation of computer viruses;
    • Sending unsolicited commercial material or “spamming”;
    • Violation of vendor software licence agreements;
    • Impersonation of any person or entity;
    • Attempting to modify or gain access to files, passwords or data belonging to others;
    • Vandalism or theft of library property.

7. Consequences of Violating Conditions of Use

  1. Users in violation of the Policy will have their Internet privileges revoked.
  2. Misuse or abuse of computer resources is not acceptable. Offenders may be required to leave the Library and may be subject to prosecution.
  1. The Board and staff of Haldimand County Public Library will follow the reporting obligations required under the “Mandatory Reporting of Internet Child Pornography by Persons Who Provide an Internet Service Act” and its Regulations, namely:
    • If Library staff are told about an IP address or URL where child pornography may be available to the public, they will report this IP address or URL to the Canadian Centre for the Child Protection;
    • If Library staff have reasonable grounds to believe that their Internet service is being or has been used to commit a child pornography offence, they will notify the police in writing and include the following information:
  2. The child pornography offence that staff have reasonable grounds to believe is being or has been committed using their Internet service;
  3. a description of the material that appears to constitute child pornography, including its format;
  4. the circumstances under which staff discovered the alleged offence, including the date and time of discovery;
  5. a description of any other evidence relating to the alleged offence in the possession or control of staff;
  6. contact information of the Library representative for the purpose of investigating the matter.
  1. With the assistance of IS Division staff, computer data related to the notification will be preserved or a period of 21 days after the notification is made;
  2. Staff will not disclose that they have made a report under Section 2 or Section 3 of the Act.A “Notification Form under the ‘Mandatory Reporting of Internet Child Pornography Act’ will be included in the Policy Manual appendices.To protect its network and users, HCPL reserves the right to terminate any Internet session, including a wireless connection, at any time or to withdraw Internet access entirely. HCPL also reserves the right to modify or restrict access to the Internet, in full or in part, in order to carry out the service priorities of the organization.

8. Using Peripherals


Colour and black and white printers are available at all branches and are accessible from all public PCs. Printers are not accessible via wireless connections; to print, a wireless connection user must save the file to an external storage device and then print from one of the Library’s public computer workstations.

By default, print jobs are sent to a laser black and white printer. Print jobs bound for a colour printer must be manually configured. All print jobs must be released by circulation staff. Printing costs are as advertised in the Library.

Storage Devices

Users wishing to save files must do so on a compact disc, memory stick or another USB-compatible storage device. Existing library system units are not equipped with 3 ½” floppy drives. For network security and privacy reasons, files may not be stored on the computer’s hard drive (C:).

Files opened from any media or device to the Library-owned computers will be automatically scanned by anti-virus software. Files suspected of being infected will be deleted by the software from their original storage device. HCPL, therefore, recommends that users have backup copies of any files uploaded to a public computer.


Users are encouraged to use headphones when listening to audio content on public computers or personal equipment as a courtesy to other members. HCPL does not loan headphones but does offer inexpensive sets for sale at the advertised price.


Each library branch has a scanner, not all of which are connected to the public network. Staff will assist users performing small scanning operations, without charge, but recommend the services of local, professional print and photography shops for larger, more time-consuming scanning projects.


Windows-based computer games and games accessible on the Internet are permitted. Games on CD-ROM or DVD-ROM discs which require installation and/or file transfer to the computer hard drive are not allowed due to equipment and network security issues.

Digital Cameras

Digital cameras can be connected to public computers, provided connecting cables are USB-compatible. HCPL cannot guarantee hardware and software compatibilities with personal cameras and cables. Basic photo-editing software is available on public computers. Users are advised that files imported from digital devices such as cameras are automatically scanned for viruses and deleted if infected.

9. Privacy and Security

The Internet is an unregulated medium which provides information and images beyond the confines of HCPL’s mission, selection criteria and collection development policies. Because of this, patrons are advised that:

  • HCPL assumes no responsibility for any damages, direct or indirect, arising from its provision of access to Internet services.
  • HCPL disclaims any liability or responsibility arising from access to or use of information obtained through the Internet. Users are responsible for any commercial transactions made while using the Library’s Internet connection.
  • Not all Internet sources provide accurate, complete, age-appropriate or current information. HCPL does not assume responsibility for the accuracy, currency or appropriateness of information on the Internet. The Internet is not a secure medium and third parties may be able to obtain information about users or their activities.
  • No filter is 100% effective and HCPL will not assume responsibility in the event that the filter is found to be not fully effective.
  • Children’s access to the Internet and other library resources is the responsibility of parents or guardians. Filtering software does not replace the need for parental guidance.
  • HCPL recommends that a user logout of any sites of which the user is a member and removes his or her history or cache files prior to ending a computer session as the Library cannot guarantee that its systems will automatically perform this function. HCPL will not be responsible in the event that a patron has not logged out of a website for which a password was required or has not removed any personal login information.
  • HCPL recommends that sensitive information such as credit card, online banking or password information not be transmitted while using the wireless network and that in all other circumstances it be entered with due caution.
  • Virus and security protection is the responsibility of users of wireless connections. As wireless transmissions are sent over radio signals, “eavesdropping” by other users is possible.

This Policy should be read in conjunction with the Haldimand County Public Library’s Patron Code of Conduct Policy, Unattended Children in the Library Policy, and Privacy Policy.

Date: November 27, 2008 Chairperson: Jerri Whiting
Policy #INT-1 Motion 08-66

This policy replaces #INT-1 adopted on August 16, 2006 and #INT-2 adopted January 8, 2008.
This policy was reviewed and amended by the Board on May 24, 2012.
This policy was reviewed and amended by the Board on November 26, 2015
HCPL reserves the right to develop service guidelines which will be revised as necessary.