Back to top

Public Guidelines for Use of Computers and Computer Networks

I. Purpose

Madison Public Library is committed to providing access to informational, educational, recreational and cultural resources for all library users. The Library provides access to the Internet through library computers connected to the Internet, and through wireless Internet access during open library hours.

The Library's computer system provides the opportunity to integrate electronic resources from information networks around the world with the library's other resources. However, not all sources on the Internet are accurate, complete, legal, trustworthy, or up-to-date. The Library assumes responsibility only for the information provided on its web sites, web-based resources, and social media pages. The Library cannot monitor or accept responsibility for material in other Internet sources.

II. Responsibilities of Users

Users should be aware that they are working in a public environment shared by people of all ages and sensibilities. Users should refrain from the use of Internet sounds and visuals which might disrupt the ability of other library patrons to use the library and its resources.  Library users are individually responsible for their own access, use, or dissemination of information via the Internet in the Library.  When logging onto a computer, users agree to follow the Public Guidelines for Use of Computers and Computer Networks in the Library and to contact staff immediately if experiencing problems or concerns.  In the case of minors, use of library computers and library's wireless network is a joint responsibility of the user and the parent or guardian.  

Users should safely share personal information (name, address, password, telephone number, school or work, credit card number, etc.) on the Internet. This includes but is not limited to email, instant messaging, online purchasing, social media sites, and commercial sites. The Library cannot be responsible for security of personal information shared on or with non-library sites.

Users should evaluate Internet sources just as they do print materials, questioning the accuracy and completeness of the information. Users must use the Internet at their own risk, realizing that beyond the Library's web sites, web-based services, and social media pages they may encounter material they find offensive. 

Supervising Use by Children and Teens

Children eight and under must use the Internet with their accompanying adult.

In compliance with requirements of the Children’s Internet Protection Act, Madison Public Library filters all Internet access provided by the Library. Adult patrons age 17 years and older may choose to disable the filter for unrestricted Internet access for any lawful purpose that meets Madison Public Library’s policies and guidelines.  

Parents, teens, and children are encouraged to start their exploration of the Internet with the Library's web site, especially the Kids and Families and Teens sections. There they will find sites and content for children, teens, and families, chosen by library staff. Madison Public Library staff provide assistance in determining search strategies and finding or evaluating sites.

The Library supports the right for each family to decide what is appropriate Internet use for their children and teens.  Use of the Internet presents an opportunity for each family to discuss sites and content they feel is appropriate or inappropriate. 

Parents, guardians, and caregivers are expected to instruct minors to safely share personal information (name, address, password, telephone number, school, credit card number, etc.) on the Internet. This includes but is not limited to email, instant messaging, online purchasing, social media sites, and commercial sites. Before giving out any personal information via email, minors need to be confident that they are dealing with someone who is known and trusted by them and their parents or guardians.

For more information on children, teens, and the Internet see content on, and

Computers in designated children's or teen areas are for use by children and teens through age fourteen, as well as their parents and caregivers.

Illegal and Unacceptable Uses

People may only use the Library's computers and networks for legal purposes.  Examples of unacceptable uses include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Harassment of other users or violation of their privacy (see Madison Public Library Policy 3.35 - "Inappropriate Behavior and/or Illegal Conduct");
  • Libeling, slandering or maliciously offending other users;
  • Violation of software licensing agreements;
  • Overuse of system resources such as bandwidth;
  • Attempting to crash, degrade performance of or gain unauthorized access to the Library's or other computer systems and networks;
  • Damaging equipment, software or data belonging to the Library or other users;
  • Failure to follow Public Guidelines for Use of Computers and Computer Networks in the Library including but not limited to time limits, printing policies, and use of headphones;
  • Exposing children to harmful materials as outlined in Sec. 948.11 of the Wisconsin Statutes 

Violations may result in restrictions on library use. Illegal uses of the library's computers or wireless networks may also be subject to prosecution by local, state or federal authorities.

The Library expressly disclaims any liability or responsibility arising from access to or use of information obtained through its electronic information systems, or any consequences thereof.

III. Responsibilities of the Library

The Library strives to maintain Internet access via library computers, networks, and wireless access at all times the library is open.  Short downtimes do occasionally occur, and will be announced ahead of time whenever possible.  Library staff assists users with library computers, printers, library software, and general Internet use, and can also verify that the library's wireless network is functional. Library staff may be able to assist users with laptops, phones, e-readers or other wireless devices or answer software questions.  Library staff also may direct users to library resources, Internet resources, or training classes that can help users explore software or wireless devices.

Computer use information, as well as library cardholder information, is confidential as defined through Library Policy. All files are removed and internet search history is deleted from library computers at the end of each user's session.  The library does maintain Internet use records for ten days via the online signup system used by the library. 

The Library's wireless networks are offered as unsecure wireless networks.  Users should use wireless access accordingly.  

IV. Copyright

Copyright law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code) protects created works (including email, text, music, videos, web sites, images, programs or data), and describes permissible and prohibited uses of protected works. The U.S. Copyright Office notes that while “use of works may be permissible for criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.....the distinction between fair use and infringement may be unclear and not easily defined."1 Except as permitted by fair use or other copyright exemptions, Madison Public Library internet users may not reproduce, display, or distribute copyrighted materials. Responsibility for any consequences of copyright infringement lies with the user; Madison Public Library expressly disclaims any liability or responsibility resulting from such use.

1 U.S. Copyright Office. “Fair Use - FL-102.” Accessed January 3, 2011. Page inactive April 2015.

(approved by the Library Board February 4, 2016)