Board Policy 520: Unattended Children in the Library
Purpose

The Monterey Public Library welcomes children. Library staff members are trained to provide research assistance, readers’ advisory service, and educational programs for young people. However, library staff cannot be responsible for unattended children. To protect the safety and well being of children and promote equitable and comfortable Library use by all customers, the Board of Library Trustees has established the following policies.

Definition

An unattended child is any person under 14 years of age who is attending a Library program, in the Library building, on the Bookmobile, or on the Library premises without direct supervision by a parent, guardian, or other authorized caregiver. Older teens are treated as adult customers by the Library, but they are legally the responsibility of their parents or guardians and should have an emergency contact available.

Responsibilities of Parents or Caregivers and Children
  1. The Library cannot provide childcare services. Responsibility for the safety and behavior of children in the Library rests with parents, guardians or other authorized caregivers and not with Library personnel.

  2. Children under 8 years of age should be within visual contact of a parent or authorized caregiver at all times unless they are attending a Library-sponsored program, and a parent or authorized caregiver is available in the Library building.>
  3. Children 8 years of age and older may use the Library without adult supervision provided that they are permitted to and can also safely be alone outside of the Library.

  4. Parents or authorized caregivers are expected to give unsupervised children a) instructions about what to do if assistance is needed, b) the parent or caregiver’s location in or away from the library, and c) contact information for two parents or caregivers.

  5. Customers of all ages are expected to follow the policies, rules, and procedures established for safe, comfortable, and equitable Library use. Parents or caregivers are responsible for ensuring that children meet this expectation as needed.

Enforcement

Library staff members usually become aware of unattended children when a child behaves disruptively, needs assistance from a parent or authorized caregiver, or remains unattended at the Library’s scheduled closing.

Disruptive behavior

  1. Library Board Policy 515: Disruptive Behavior in the Library applies to children as well as adults, and authorizes Library staff to require customers who engage in disruptive behavior to leave the Library premises. Therefore, children who are not old enough to be outside the Library alone should not be in the Library alone. Parents or guardians are responsible for determining their child’s maturity.

  2. Policy 515 is enforced fairly, regardless of age. Children will not be held to a different standard than adults. However, as children may be learning rules of social conduct, staff will make an effort to be certain that the rules are understood, and will suggest alternative activities and ideas for self-discipline.

  3. If an unattended child is required by staff to leave the Library, staff will attempt to notify parents or authorized caregivers in the Library or by telephone. If parents or authorized caregivers cannot be contacted, school or police assistance may be requested for the child’s safety.

Children who need assistance

  1. When a child requests or needs assistance from a parent of caregiver, Staff members will attempt to locate the parent or caregiver in the library or by telephone and inform him/her of the child’s needs and this policy. If the parent/caregiver cannot be located, or if the child is unattended repeatedly, the police may be called for the child’s safety.

  2. Library staff members are authorized to provide needed or requested basic first aid to unattended children according to their judgment and ability. Staff members will never administer or offer medication of any type. Staff members will contact emergency services whenever they may be needed to protect the health or safety of any Library customer.

  3. In any circumstances which suggest the possibility of child neglect as defined by California Law (Penal Code section 11165.2), staff members in consultation with supervisors will contact appropriate authorities.

Library Closing

Library personnel are not legally responsible for the safety and well-being of children left in the Library at closing. However, if a staff member waits with a child after the Library’s scheduled closing, or calls parents, caregivers, or police on behalf of a child, Library staff assumes responsibility for remaining with the child until parents, caregivers, or police arrive and take custody of the child.

When a child remains unattended at the Library’s scheduled closing, staff members are encouraged to consider the amount of daylight, the age, apparent maturity and attitude of the child, and the number and ages of the child’s companions. Staff members may:

  1. Make or allow a telephone call to parents or caregivers.
  2. Inform older children or teens of their options and encourage them to go to the police station across the street from the Library.
  3. Request police assistance.

Staff members may wait up to 10 minutes after the Library’s scheduled closing for a child to be retrieved by parents or caregivers. After 10 minutes, police assistance will be requested. Staff members will remain with the child until police arrive and take custody of the child.

Staff members will not provide transportation, even by request of the parent or caregiver.

Repeatedly Unattended Children

If parents or caregivers disrupt Library operations by repeatedly leaving children under 8 years of age unattended in the Library, or repeatedly allowing any child to behave disruptively in the Library, the Library Director may contact appropriate authorities as authorized above and/or exclude the parents or caregivers and children from Library property following Policy 515: Disruptive Behavior in the Library.

The Library Director will establish procedures to implement this policy and to communicate it to staff and customers in a positive and understandable manner.

Approved: July 31, 1991
Revised: February 25, 2009