The Providence Community Library is dedicated to providing a welcoming and safe environment for patrons of all ages. Sharing this environment with other people requires that everyone follow The Library Behavior Policy established by the Library Board of Trustees and available in each community library building and on the PCL website.
The Providence Community Library encourages visits by children and their families. However, library staff cannot provide child care or assume responsibility for children’s safety. Parents, guardians, teachers and caregivers, not library staff, are responsible for the behavior and safety of children visiting the library. Therefore, children in the library should always be accompanied by a parent/guardian or assigned caregiver.
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. They may also become bored and restless and could disturb the enjoyment and work of others.
The safety of children left alone in a library 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 the library personnel. The following procedures will be followed concerning the care and behavior of young library users.
Children Under Eight Left Unattended in the Library
- If it is determined that a child is lost or unattended, a staff member should bring the child to the staff member in charge.
- The staff member in charge should try to locate the parent/guardian or responsible adult:
- ask child where parent/guardian is or walk around the library to find the parent/guardian.
- if the parent/guardian is not found in the building, a library staff member should stay with the child until the parent/guardian can be located, through the circulation system data base or telephone book.
- if the parent/guardian has not been located within an hour, or if the library is closing, the staff member in charge shall call the Providence Police Department to have the child brought home.
- Under no circumstances should a library staff member take a child out of the library building. If the library has been closed, then two staff members (or a staff member and a security guard) should wait with the child inside the library building until a police officer or a parent/guardian arrives . No staff member should take the child home.
Disruptive Attended Children
Disruptive behavior is defined in the Providence Community Library’s Behavior Policy.
- Children who are disruptive will be asked by a library staff member to behave.
- If the disruptive behavior continues, a staff member should inform the parent/guardian that their child is disturbing others.
- If the parent/guardian refuses or is unable to control the behavior of the child, the family will be asked to leave the library.
Disruptive Unattended Children Over Age Eight
- A library staff member will tell the child that he or she is causing a disturbance and this is a warning. The next time he or she will be asked to leave.
- If the disruptive behavior continues, the staff member will attempt to contact the parent/guardian to either pick the child up or to inform him/her that the child is being sent home from the library.
- If the parent/guardian cannot be reached, the child will be told to leave the building. The library staff member will follow through to see that the child does leave. (Staff will use their best judgement in determining if a child should be sent home unescorted.)
- If the child does not cooperate, the police will be called.
Disruptive Unattended Children Under Age Eight
- A staff member will ask the child to correct the behavior.
- If the behavior persists, the staff member will obtain the child's and the parent's/guardian’s names and attempt to locate the parent/guardian in the building. If located in the building, explain that the child is being disruptive, and inform the parent/guardian of the library's policy. If they refuse or are unable to control the child, the family will be asked to leave.
- If the parent/guardian cannot be located within the building, the person in charge will call the parent/guardian. They will be informed that their child is being disruptive. The Safe Child Policy will be explained. If the parent/guardian is unable to come at once, he or she will be told the child may stay this one time. If the disruptive behavior continues, the parent/guardian shall be called again and will pick up the child or make arrangements to have the child picked up by another responsible adult.
- If the parent/guardian cannot be contacted within an hour, or if the library is closing, the police will be called.
- If the parent/guardian cannot be located and the child must leave, the staff member in charge will contact the police to escort the child home.
Teenagers are treated as adult users. However, they are still legally the responsibility of their parents/guardians and should have an emergency contact available.
Truancy – In accordance with the Rhode Island General Laws, Chapter 16-19 Compulsory Attendance, children are required to be in school during the days and hours that schools are in session in the cities or towns in which they reside. Any child at the library during school hours will be informed of this law and given the opportunity to return to school on their own, or to call a parent/guardian for a ride to school. Children who are absent from school due to illness cannot be in the library and should remain home for their own wellbeing.
Home Schooled Students – In order to use the public library alone during school hours, those who are ages 8 and up and are home schooled, will be required to have a letter with them from the parent/guardian stating the child is home schooled. The letter will include emergency contact information. The parent/guardian will be called by staff to confirm the home school status. The school district may also be contacted to confirm the home school status.
Closing time – Children who do not have transportation home at closing time will be asked for telephone numbers of people who can pick them up at the library. Based on the age of the child, if a child is not picked up within 15 minutes of closing, library staff will call the Providence Police Department so an officer can assure the child is brought home safely. Under no circumstances should a library staff member take a child out of the library building. If the library has been closed, then two staff members (or a staff member and a security guard) should wait with the child inside the library building until the parent/guardian or a police officer arrive to take the child home. No staff member should take the child home.
Any child ejected under enforcement of this policy may not re-enter the Library that day and up to an additional two days. A suspension of longer than three days is covered under "Suspension Policy and Procedure".
SUSPENSION POLICY AND PROCEDURE
Any child ejected through the procedures explained in this policy may be subject to a longer suspension for habitual or improper behavior.
Suspension from the library means that the child may not enter the library for any reason or be present on outdoor library property. If the suspended child enters the library or is on the property outside the library, the parent/guardian will be called, and if they are unavailable, the police will be called to remove the child and escort him/her home.
The Library Manager/Supervisor may suspend a violator's library privileges, including the right to enter the library, for a period of time greater than three days for repeat offenders or egregious behavior. In the event of a suspension for three days or longer, an incident report of the event will be written by the Library Manager/Supervisor and reviewed by the Executive Director and the Deputy Director.
In the event of a suspension greater than three days, the child’s parent/guardian may appeal the decision to the Library Board. The parent/guardian must provide written notice that he/she is requesting a suspension hearing. The written notice may be mailed or hand-delivered to the Library Manager/Supervisor and a copy sent to the Executive Director and the Deputy Director. A meeting of the Library Board will be convened as soon as practicable.
The Providence Community Library is not responsible for any consequences of parents forfeiting their responsibilities.
POSTING OF SAFE CHILD POLICY
This policy shall be made available in all of the nine libraries and on the library website and copies shall be available upon request.
ALL persons in Rhode Island are required by law (RIGL 40-11-3) to report known or suspected cases of child abuse and/or neglect to the Department of Children, Youth, and Families within 24 hours of becoming aware of such abuse/neglect.