The Penn State University Libraries and the services they provide are designed primarily for the students, faculty, and staff of Penn State. We also acknowledge a large secondary group that uses our libraries and services—community members and visitors. All of these groups sometimes bring children to use the libraries and we welcome their supervised presence. Concern for the well-being of children using the Libraries is fundamental to our overall service mission and we seek to maintain a safe and secure environment for all of our users. We must also acknowledge that the Libraries function as public buildings which anyone may enter, therefore the primary care of children using the Libraries resides with parents and designated caregivers. Young children left alone at the library may become restless, bored, frightened, or anxious. It is not the Libraries’ intention to seek out unattended children but rather to have a reasoned response prepared as problems present themselves. The following policy and procedures seek to address these concerns for children in a responsible manner.
An unattended child is any young person below college student age using the Libraries unaccompanied by a responsible adult in the immediate vicinity. Unattended young adults between 12 and 17 years old may use the Libraries without supervision as long as the same policies governing library use by students are followed. Children under 12 should not be unattended by a parent or caregiver. Every effort will be made to inform parents bringing children under 12 to the Libraries that the parents (or caregivers) are responsible for supervising those children. Children under 12 without parents present will be given a card explaining the Penn State University Libraries policy, with a request to give the card to their caregiver or parent.
University Libraries faculty and staff are not responsible for the supervision of children and young adults left unattended by their parents or caregivers, but should observe young patrons carefully to insure safety. Disruptive behaviors from individuals in either group—unattended young adults (12 to 17) and unattended children (under 12) will be treated appropriately under the University Libraries Code of Conduct, but special attention may need to be given to the latter group. For example, an unattended child under twelve years of age whose safety or well-being might be endangered if he/she were sent out of the building or who is exhibiting signs of distress or concern may require special consideration. Examples might include a child being upset and unable to find a parent, a child too young to be on his/her own during a building evacuation, or a child being left alone outside the facility after closing.
If a parent is in the building:
If a child is alone in the library:
If a child under 12 years of age is alone at the library at closing time and appears to be anxious or frightened:
Effective Date: April 15, 2013
Date Approved: April 15, 2013 (Dean's Library Council)