The Malden Public Library is dedicated to providing a warm, welcoming, and safe environment for people of all ages. Sharing this environment with other people requires that everyone follow the Library’s Courtesy Code adopted by the Board of Library Trustees and posted around the library and on the library’s website.
The Malden Public Library wants children to use its facilities and services; however, the safety of children left alone in a public building is a serious concern of the library staff. The responsibility for the safety and behavior of children in the library rests with the parent/caregiver and not with library personnel. Our library staff is here to serve the information needs of our patrons. In order to help all of our patrons in the best way possible, our staff has many duties to perform. Library personnel cannot monitor the whereabouts of unsupervised children or be responsible for children who are demonstrating inappropriate behavior.
When children are left alone, they may become frightened or anxious. If they wander through the building, they may encounter hazards such as stairs, doors, furniture, or electrical equipment. Disruptive behavior (see Courtesy Code) will prompt corrective action from the staff, and this creates a negative rather than a positive library experience.
In order to prevent undue disruption of normal library activities, to provide for the general welfare of all library patrons and the general safety of children, The Board of Trustees of the Malden Public Library has adopted the following rules:
All children 7 years or younger must have a parent/caregiver in the immediate vicinity of and in visual contact with the child. The assigned caregiver must be at least 14 years old and must carry emergency contact information. The parent/caregiver must stay with the child, unless the child is participating in storytime or any other library program, in which case, the parent/caregiver is expected to remain in the library building and to join the child immediately at the end of the program.
Children 8 years and older may use the library unattended, subject to the rules and regulations of the library. Parents should not view the library as an alternative to day care or after-school programs. Staff cannot monitor everyone who enters, and all patrons are free to use any public area within the library. Parents should be advised that if the conduct of their child is inappropriate, the child may be instructed to leave the library. Parents should further realize that, even in their absence, they are legally responsible for the behavior of their children.
Children ages 8 through 13 may use the library on their own. However, parents are still responsible for the actions of their children. Children using inappropriate behavior may be asked to leave the building. If a child of this age group is not able to leave the library without an adult, he/she should not be in the library unattended. This is of particular concern in inclement weather and after dark. All children should have the telephone number of someone who can assist them in an emergency and the financial means to use the public telephone.
Young people ages 14 through 17 are treated as adult users. However, they are still legally the responsibility of their parents and should have an emergency contact available.
When a child 7 years or younger appears to be lost or unattended, library staff will immediately try to locate the parents or responsible adult in the library or by phone and inform her/him of the rules. A staff member will stay with the child while the search for parent or responsible adult is in process. If the parents or responsible adult cannot be located within 10 minutes, the police department will be called to come pick up the child.
Staff are instructed to do a “walk through” about 15 minutes prior to closing time in order to ask children if they need to call for a ride home and, if so, the staff have the children call at that time. When a child age 13 or under is unattended at closing time, staff will immediately attempt to contact the parents or guardians. If parents have been contacted and are “on the way,” two staff members will remain with the child up to 15 minutes after closing time. After 15 minutes, the police will be notified to come pick up the child. Under no circumstances will a staff member transport a child home or to any other destination.
Approved by the Malden Public Library Board of Trustees,
December 9, 2004