PUBLIC INTERNET ACCESS POLICY

The mission of Fort Bend County Libraries (FBCL) is to provide an environment for lifelong learning and enrichment for the entire, diverse community, through responsive service and access to timely and accurate resources. Within this context, we offer access to the Internet. Public use of the Internet in the library provides both expanded access to global resources and an opportunity to become familiar with state-of-the-art information technology.

Internet use in the library shall be consistent with our mission, policies and procedures, and with applicable local, state, federal, and international laws. Websites that present material of a questionable or unethical nature exist; Fort Bend County, its officials and its employees are not responsible for material displayed on the Web. Illegal use of the Internet, including—but not limited to—viewing obscenity or child pornography and infringement of copyright laws, is prohibited and can be grounds for loss of library privileges and/or criminal prosecution.

The Internet offers a wealth of information that is enriching to individuals of all ages. Because it is an unregulated medium that changes rapidly and unpredictably, information may not always be accurate, complete, or current. Library users must accept responsibility for determining the validity and suitability of content.

Our goal is to help the public make the best use of electronic information. Accordingly, the Internet is available on the adult and youth computers in our libraries. Filtering software has been installed on all computers in the Youth Services Departments and is available on the computers in the Adult Services Departments and Computer Labs. Please be aware that, while filtering software is a tool, no filter can block all offensive sites; therefore, it is possible that an offensive site could be visible on any computer at any time. Moreover, filtering software may not allow access to all acceptable websites. We urge parents and legal guardians to be involved in and responsible for deciding what resources are appropriate for their children and to educate their children in using the Internet.

Access to computers and the Internet is obtained through an individual's library-card barcode or a guest card, as follows.

  • ADULT CARD: 18 years of age or older; will have an option to select filtered or unfiltered access to the Internet from a pull-down menu that will appear after the adult has logged into the computer.
  • JUVENILE/YOUTH CARD: under 18; automatically FILTERED, unless parent(s) sign(s) a form giving consent for unfiltered access. Parents who later change their mind about their child's computer access may rescind the original decision by filling out and signing a rescind form at any of the library locations. The child's card would again provide only filtered access.
  • GUEST CARD: for use by those who do not have a library card; will provide only FILTERED access. Adult guests aged 18 or older who wish to have unfiltered access are encouraged to apply for and receive (immediately) a library card with unfiltered access.

Privacy screens are available for use at all library locations.

The library staff is prepared to offer assistance in locating resources on and/or about the Internet, and training will be provided on a scheduled basis.

Fort Bend County Libraries provides access to the Internet on its public computers through Internet Explorer. All updates to the browser are based on security, network capability, current use, and stability of the browser. FBCL enhances Internet access through the selective installation of plug-in software for special Internet applications. Selection of plug-in software must meet the criteria of common use, security, network capability, library database application and technical management. Therefore, not all plug-in software will be available. Some Internet services, such as email, chat rooms, etc., will have limited or no functionality. Filtered public computers will also experience the same limitations. FBCL has no control over network access speed during times of peak Internet usage.

Approved by Commissioners Court
December 2, 2003