Internet Usage

Internet Acceptable Use Policy

On June 23, 2003 the Supreme Court upheld a federal law that requires public libraries to install blocking software on all library computers providing Internet access to the staff and public as a condition of continuing to receive federal subsidie

s and grants.

All Internet access at the Scarborough Public Library, including wireless access, is provided by the Maine School and Library Network (MSLN) and is funded with “E-rate” federal funds. Therefore, the library is required to comply with the law to use this free Internet service.

Our Compliance Procedures

The law requires that children under the age of 17 be protected from visual depictions that are “obscene, child pornography, or harmful to minors” and that the library has a policy (not necessarily a filtering policy) in place that addresses a number of issues, including:

  • Hacking;
  • The unauthorized disclosure, use or dissemination of personal information regarding minors;
  • The safety and security of minors when using electronic mail, chat rooms, etc.;
  • The technology protection measure (blocking software) that is in place

It is the Board’s understanding that the CIPA requirements for an internet safety policy addressing the concerns outlined in the second and third bullets above are targeted much more toward schools than public libraries.   Short of blocking access to all social media sites, libraries have neither the staffing nor formal relationship with minors needed to adequately educate and ensure that minors are surfing and using social media on the internet safely.  Ultimately the library must rely on the education minors receive at home and from their schools regarding internet privacy and safety concerns.

Consequently, we use software and services at the network level that identify and block sites by their web address. This software/service utilizes a compiled database of adult content site addresses. This form of filtering only filters entire sites (by domain name) that allow, and even promote, content within these database categories.  We do not use “keyword” blocking (blocking based on the appearance of words in a site).  We rely on the internal policies (and effective enforcement of those policies) within sites such as Google Images, Facebook, and Instagram that do not permit obscene and pornographic images based on their own interpretation of these categories.

Children’s Computers

By Board policy, websites accessed from all youth Internet capable computers are filtered to block sites that provide pornographic images and/or cater to visual depictions of extreme violence in order to comply with the requirements of CIPA.  In addition to these CIPA mandates, access from the Children’s computers are also filtered to block content that doesn’t conform to community standards for youth appropriate content, including nudity, sites that promote violent behavior and other categories as determined and approved by the Board of Trustees (see blocked categories list).  While chat, web e-mail and social networking sites are not explicitly blocked because they are so ubiquitous and integrated so tightly into the modern WebSphere, the library’s staff will occasionally monitor this use visually and intervene to discuss appropriate behavior when they suspect inappropriate behavior.  To protect our network, hacking, computer security, proxy avoidance, and URL translation sites are also blocked.

Adult Public Computers, Lookups and Patron Wireless Devices

Access from Adult computers are also filtered for sites that provide pornographic images and/or cater to visual depictions of extreme violence in order to comply with the requirements of CIPA. Additionally, in order to protect our network from hacking, computer security, proxy avoidance, and URL translation sites are also blocked by our network filter.

Access from lookups (i.e., workstations designated for catalog and reference database access) are heavily filtered, as well as “locked down” through other means, since they are not intended for general internet browsing.

Patron owned wireless devices (laptops, smartphones, tablets) that access our Internet connection are also subject to the same filtering as our Adult Public Computers.  Since these devices can be easily viewed by children in the library they are blocked from accessing sites that provide pornographic and extremely violent images to comply with CIPA.

Requests for Unblocking

The library staff will temporarily unblock a site for viewing on a site by site basis at the request of a user with research needs as long as the site is not, in our judgment, in violation of CIPA guidelines for displaying pornographic and violent images or is an illegal site or a threat to our network security.

Entire Internet sessions will not be unblocked, but rather the site that has been blocked by our network filtering service.

Staff Computers

In accordance with the Court decision, a network-based filtering service is activated to comply with the requirements of the Children’s Internet Protection Act to block sites that allow and promote pornographic and extremely violent images on all library computers, including staff workstations.

To protect the network and staff workstations from downloaded software, hacking, computer security, proxy avoidance, and URL translation sites are also blocked.

Network Administrator Has Wide Latitude

The Board of Trustees gives the network administrator wide latitude to block access to websites determined to be a threat to the library’s internal network and confidential data and to our users’ confidential information.


Policy approved June 16, 2016

Policy on Review of Internet Content Blocking Parameters

Specific determination regarding what matter is inappropriate for minors shall be made by the Library Board of Trustees.*

Content blocking parameters will be reviewed by the Board of Trustees annually or more frequently at the request of the library staff. 

All other actions needed for the protection, management, and optimization of the local area network and its devices will be determined by the network administrator.

Adopted 12/20/2001



*A determination regarding what matter is inappropriate for minors shall be made by the school board, local educational agency, library, or other authority responsible for making the determination. Section 254 (2) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 254) amended

Wireless Network Policy

The Library provides a wireless network to allow public access to the Internet before, during, and after library business hours. It is a separate network from the Library wired network and by its nature, like all public hotspots, is less secure.

A login and password are required so that we may manage the number of users on the network at one time.

Devices Covered

This policy covers all wireless data communication devices.

Content Filtering

Content filtering is a requirement of our Internet service provider Maine School and Library Network (MSLN)

Responsibility of Library Staff

The Library is not responsible for any loss of data caused by use of the library wireless network. Library staff will strive to inform wireless users of security and privacy policies and procedures related to the use of wireless communications in common areas.

The Library makes available printed directions for configuring a device on the Library wireless network. The Library staff will not configure a user’s computer.

Staff Access Points and Cards

Employees of the library may not provide personal off - the - shelf base stations and access points for themselves. Abuse Interference or disruption of other authorized communications or unauthorized interception of another's wireless traffic is a violation of this policy.


Any employee found to have violated this policy may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment. Any public user in violation of this policy will be denied further access to the wireless network.


Wireless access points operate over a shared bandwidth. As the number of users increase, the available bandwidth per user diminishes dramatically. For that reason, we use methods to limit the number of concurrent users on our wireless network. Users needing higher bandwidth should use a wired library public access computer. As per our agreement with our Internet provider (MSLN), users cannot directly send and receive mail to and from mail servers located outside the MSLN network using the POP mail protocol. Users on the library wireless network must have configured their mail program to use the IMAP protocol in order to access their email directly from a server.*

Wireless networks inherently have greater risks than wired networks because wireless transmissions occur on unlicensed radio frequencies. Consequently, it is difficult to know who or what devices may be connected and listening. Users use the wireless network at their own risk. Users of the library wireless network should consider all unencrypted communications over the network as insecure and available and all content as clear text.

* POP was designed for, and works best in, the situation where you use only a single desktop computer. Normally, messages are downloaded to your desktop computer and then deleted from the mail server.


Adopted: June 17, 2004
Revised: March 21, 2013; April 18, 2013