UNATTENDED MINOR POLICY
The library encourages visits by young children, minors and patrons of all ages. It is our desire to make this important visit both memorable and enjoyable. Children of all ages are encouraged to use the library for homework, recreational reading, computer access or other library programs and services. Staff are available and frequently assist children and other minors with materials, services and programs.
The library seeks to provide a safe, friendly and appropriate environment for patrons of all ages and limits its responsibility to providing an environment conducive to safe and enjoyable public use.
The library cannot watch, keep track or otherwise be responsible for an individual minor’s whereabouts. This remains the responsibility of the minor’s parents, guardians or caregivers at all times – when a minor arrives, while he/she is here and when he/she leaves. The library and its staff do not serve under any circumstance in loco parentis. Simply put, library staff do not and cannot legally assume authority in place of the parent, guardian or caregiver. Libraries are not licensed to provide daycare or babysitting services. Library staff have other primary duties preventing them from supervising each and every child. For the safety all its users and to limit its liability, the Library reserves the right to establish age limits and other guidelines for use of its facilities and resources according to federal, state and local law and directives. The Library shall in addition reserve the right to regulate the nature, time and size of school or group tours to ensure the safety of minors and in regard for other patrons’ use of its facilities and resources.
Public libraries are not schools, daycare centers, or other licensed and closely regulated environments. Like city parks, malls or stores, public libraries provide services to whoever walks in regardless of age, origin, interests or background. They are therefore by nature open to all kinds of people. Anyone may use the library as long as their activities are legal and not disruptive.
Staff therefore are not legally empowered to provide, cannot reasonably guarantee, and cannot be held responsible for the care of unattended minors. Staff cannot monitor everyone who enters. Patrons are free to use any public area within the library.
It is a patron’s responsibility to maintain necessary and proper standards of behavior to protect his/her individual rights and the rights and privileges of other patrons. Library staff recognize that the library will be noisier at busy times and that minors by nature cause more commotion. Nevertheless, minors are subject to the same rules of conduct as other patrons and the same consequences, including being asked to leave the library and library grounds.
Children are minors. Responsibility for the minor stays with the parent, caregiver or guardian when a child arrives at the library, while they are here and when they leave. If that responsibility is vacated by the parent, caregiver or guardian, responsibility passes to legally empowered agencies, including the police, or other legally authorized, competent, qualified and empowered entities – not the library.
It is a parent or caregiver’s responsibility to insure that a minor leaves the library safely. If a minor’s parent or caregiver cannot be found on the property at closing, staff will first try to contact them by phone. If the parent(s) or guardian cannot be contacted, or if they do not arrive in a reasonable time, staff shall notify the police of an unattended child/minor on the property. When the police arrive, staff may leave. Staff shall under no circumstances offer a ride to any patron.
The Library expects children under 12 to be accompanied at all times by their parent(s) or an adult responsible for them. Library staff will notify parents or caregivers when:
- A minor is frightened or anxious while alone at the library.
- A minor’s health or safety may be in danger.
- A minor’s behavior disturbs other library users.
- A minor under 18 has not been met by a parent or responsible caregiver at closing time.
After evaluating the situation, library staff will attempt to get hold of the parent or guardian of an unattended minor. If the parent or guardian cannot be reached, the child will be placed in the care of the Weslaco Police Department. Under no circumstances do library staff offer a patron of any age a ride home or anywhere else.
It is library policy that all minors under 12 must be accompanied by a parent or designated responsible person while in the library. Also, if the child is attending a library program, we require the parent/responsible guardian to remain on library property throughout the program.
If children or other minors display disruptive behavior on library property, the responsible adult will be approached and informed that their child is being disruptive. They may be asked to leave the building with the child.
The ages above are minimum ages. Staff will apply these guidelines for older minors or others if the patron’s actions or circumstances warrant. Any minor left unattended in the library in violation of this policy may be considered an unaccompanied child in need of care, and the matter referred to the police department, or other legally constituted, empowered and competent authority, regardless of age.
Notices shall be placed near the entrance of the library main building and the attached auditorium complex advising, “Children under 12 shall be accompanied by a “responsible adult. See staff for details.”
Revised 14 August 2006 by the Weslaco Public Library Board