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Chapel Hill Public Library

A department of the Town of Chapel Hill

Safe Child Policy

Statement of Philosophy

The Chapel Hill Public Library welcomes children of all ages. It is a doorway through which life-long learning takes place. The library is a public building and, as such, everyone is welcome.

Children in the library should make effective use of the library. Effective use includes reading books or magazines, or working on special reading or writing assignments.

Library staff have many duties to perform in order to serve all the citizens of the Chapel Hill area. They cannot monitor the behavior or whereabouts of each patron, including children. Staff do not take over parental responsibilities for children who come into the library.

A child could be tempted to go off with a stranger. A child could become ill. A child could get mixed in with a school group and become lost. Any of these or other emergencies could take place in a public building. It is for the safety of each child that the Chapel Hill Public Library has adopted this Safe Child Policy.

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Statement of Policy

Parents/caretakers are responsible for the child’s behavior at all times while in the building. A caretaker is defined as an individual at least 16 years of age who acknowledges this responsibility for the child. Children 9 years of age or younger must remain in the company of the parent or caretaker.

A child 9 years or younger who is attending a library program need not be accompanied into that program by a parent/caretaker, unless otherwise indicated. Parents/caretakers must, however, be present in the building during the programming in case an emergency should arise.

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Child Left Unattended

Unattended children who appear to be lost or frightened will be comforted by a staff member. The staff member will try to identify and locate the parents/ caretaker:

  1. The child will be asked if he knows which area of the library his parent/caretaker planned to visit.
  2. The child will be taken to that area. If the responsible person isn’t there the child will be escorted around the library until they are located.
  3. If not able to be located in the library building, a staff member will monitor the child until the parent/ caretaker returns to the library.
  4. When located, the library policy on unattended children will be explained and a copy given to the parent/caretaker.
  5. Staff will record the parent’s/caretaker’s name, address, telephone number and the child’s name.
  6. Staff will refer any additional incidents to the police.

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Unattended Children after Closing Time

Library staff must exercise appropriate procedures to ensure the safety of unattended children 17 years of age and younger when the library is closing.

  1. If no ride has arrived within 15 minutes after closing time the staff will call the Police Department. Police and staff will monitor children left unattended. Parents are responsible for being aware of the times the Library opens and closes.
  2. Staff will record the parent’s/ caretaker’s name, address, telephone number and the child’s name.
  3. Once found, the parent/caretaker will be given a copy of the Unattended Children After Closing Policy.
  4. Staff will refer any additional incidents to the police.

Library staff members never give rides to these children or leave them alone in the building or on the library grounds.

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Appropriate Behavior

Parents or caretakers are responsible for monitoring the behavior of their children in compliance with the
Chapel Hill Public Library Behavior Policy. In particular the policy deems the following unacceptable behavior for children:

  • “Loud conversation, laughter or noise which is disturbing to others.. This includes children’s behavior.”
  • “Engaging in disorderly conduct, committing a nuisance, or unreasonably disturbing and offending library users.
  • “Displaying other behaviors inappropriate in a public library setting.”
Disruptive attended children 9 years of age or younger:
  1. The parent/caretaker will be informed that the child is disturbing others and asked to control child’s behavior.
  2. If the parent/caretaker refuses or is unable to control the child the librarian in charge will ask the family to leave.
Disruptive unattended children 9 years of age and younger:
  1. Child will be asked to behave.
  2. Refer to Child Left Unattended portion of this document and proceed as outlined.
Disruptive children 10 years of age or older:
  1. Child will be asked to behave and given an oral warning.
  2. If, after 10 minutes, the disruptive behavior continues, the library staff will attempt to notify the child’s parents to come pick up the child. If the parents are unable to be reached, the library staff will notify the Police Department to come pick up the child.

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Last updated: 21 December 2010