Wicomico Public Libraries strive to provide a warm, welcoming and safe environment for visitors of all ages. The fact that this is a public space means that everyone needs to follow the Codes of Conduct established by the Library’s Board of Trustees, including guidelines regarding the behavior of young people visiting a library location.
The Library encourages children to fully experience all that Wicomico Public Libraries have to offer. And while staff members may express concern for the safety of children in and around a library, the Library staff members do not act in loco parentis (in place of parents). The presence of a parent, legal guardian, or other caregiver is necessary if children are to visit the library. The Library is not responsible for any consequences if parents, guardians, or other caregivers do not fulfill their responsibilities.
While providing a safe facility is a priority for the library, adults should always remember that a library is a public building. Unattended children may be at risk. Additionally, children who exhibit behavior inappropriate for the Library may be asked to leave the building.
“Unattended Children” are defined as:
Children under the age of 8 who visit the library without adequate supervision
Children ages 8-17 who visit the library and violate the Library’s Behavior Policy
Wicomico Public Libraries will adhere to the following guidelines concerning the behavior of children:
- Children under the age of 8 years old may not be left alone in the library and must have active supervision while in the library. Active supervision means:
- Children under 8 will be monitored by a guardian who is at least 13 years old to assure the safety and behavior of that child
- Staying within sight of the child at all times
- Addressing the needs of that child immediately
Children ages 8 and older may visit the library independently, provided they are able to care for themselves and are able to understand and follow the Library’s Behavior Guidelines.
Organizations visiting the Library with groups of children must have adequate adult supervision with a ratio of at least 1 adult to 6 children.
Computers with Internet access are provided for parents to use in the children’s area while they monitor their children at play.
Staff will attempt to contact a parent, legal guardian or caregiver when:
- The health or safety of an unattended child is in doubt
- A child under the age of 8 is discovered alone in the library or the behavior of the child disturbs other library visitors
- An unattended child has not been met by a parent, legal guardian or caregiver at closing time.
If library staff cannot reach a parent, legal guardian or caregiver, staff will contact local law enforcement to take charge of the situation. A sign will be posted on the library’s door stating that Unattended Children have been placed into the custody of the Salisbury Police Department or the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Department, according to the location.
Library employees are never permitted to transport children away from a library facility. Parents, legal guardians or caregivers who violate the library’s Children’s Policy are subject to suspension of library privileges.
Approved by Library Board of Trustees February 10, 2015
Amended and approved by Library Board of Trustees April 14, 2020