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Internet and Computer Use Rules & Policies
See also: Internet Use Policy
Computer Use Mission Statement
To fulfill its mission of providing free and equal access to information, knowledge, independent learning and the joy of reading to our diverse community, the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) provides access to the Internet and to personal computers with a variety of software.
Computer Policies
Computer Policies
The Internet and online environment consists of information on a wide range of topics provided by millions of individuals and organizations around the world. Not all information found on the Internet is accurate, complete, up-to-date, legal or philosophically acceptable to all individuals. While SFPL can sometimes suggest Internet sites:
Internet Disclaimer
For further guidance, SFPL collections include Reference and Circulating resources on navigating and evaluating Web sites.
SFPL champions the protection of personal privacy. SFPL will keep confidential all such information that it purposefully or inadvertently collects or maintains to the fullest extent permitted by federal state and local law, including the California Public Records Act, the San Francisco Sunshine Ordinance, and the USA PATRIOT Act.
For more information on privacy issues and Internet use, please see SFPL's complete Privacy Policy and Internet Use Policy.
Network Security
For Website security and to ensure that service remains available to all library users, SFPL electronically monitors network traffic to identify unauthorized attempts to upload or change information or otherwise cause damage. Anyone using the SFPL Website expressly consents to such monitoring. Except for the above purposes, or if required by law, no other attempts are made to identify library users or their Web activity.
(Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act) Sections 214-216 of this Act gives law enforcement agencies expanded authority to obtain library records, monitor electronic communications and prohibits libraries and librarians from informing library users of monitoring or information requests. The Library Commission and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors have formally opposed the Act, including Sections 214-216, in two separate resolutions. [Resolutions #136-04 and #053-03]. On March 2, 2004, San Francisco voters codified the City's resistance to the federal USA PATRIOT Act with their approval of Proposition E. The charter amendment requires that any request for library, health or other personal records be routed through the Board of Supervisors instead of through City department heads. The supervisors will then decide whether the request is constitutional and whether to respond to it. For more information on the USA PATRIOT Act, please see SFPL's Privacy Policy and USA PATRIOT Act Resolution.
Rules and Responsibilities for the Public
Use of SFPL's equipment for the transmission, dissemination, and/or duplication of information must comply with federal and state laws. SFPL expects all users to comply with such laws, including but not limited to those related to copyright, computer hacking, and child pornography. Computer users will also refrain from any activity that unreasonably interferes with SFPL patron/staff comfort, safety, use or quiet and peaceful enjoyment of the library, including but not limited to:
Additionally, SFPL has the following expectations of computer users:
Persons who violate these Rules and Responsibilities may receive a warning from SFPL staff and/or an opportunity to cease the violation or leave the Library. Illegal activity, as well as any willful or repeated violations of these Rules and Responsibilities or other posted SFPL regulations, may result in removal from the facility and/or suspension of SFPL privileges. Violation of law may result in arrest and prosecution. In addition, where authorized by Federal, State or local law, violations of these Rules and Responsibilities may also result in arrest.
For more information on SFPL Rules and Responsibilities, please see Guidelines for Library Use and Internet Use Policy. For more information on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, visit the United States Copyright Office Web site (​​).
Children and Teens
As with other library materials, restricting a child or teen's access to the Internet is the responsibility of the parent or legal guardian. It is recommended that parents or guardians discuss safe Internet practices with their children. For more information, please see SFPL's Internet Use Policy and the SFPL Kids webpage section: Going Online.
Computer Etiquette
Number of Persons Per Computer
Librarians may, at their discretion, limit use of computer terminals to one or two patrons as needed to ensure comfort, safety, use, or quiet and peaceful enjoyment of the Library for all Library users and staff. Patrons may be allowed to work collaboratively, if their behavior causes no disruption.
Disclaimer for Assistance with Patron Mobile Devices (PDF). English | Chinese | Spanish
Related Policies and Guidelines
1 Harmful matter means matter, taken as a whole, which to the average person, applying contemporary statewide standards, appeals to the prurient interest, and is matter which, taken as a whole, depicts or describes in a patently offensive way sexual conduct and which, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors. California Penal Code § 313(a) (2012).
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Library Administration
Internet and Computer Use Rules & Policies
Michael Lambert - City Librarian
Open Access Policy FAQs (PDF-Chinese | English | Russian | Spanish). Information and resources explaining the Library’s commitment to intellectual freedom and unfiltered access for all.
The San Francisco Public Library system is dedicated to free and equal access to information, knowledge, independent learning and the joys of reading for our diverse community.
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