UKOLNFiltering - Is This The Answer?

A Presentation given at the Library Association London & Home Counties One Day School, Library Association, 25th November 1999

Acceptable Use Policy Samples

These samples from acceptable use policies are from public libraries in the UK. They have been provided to give you an idea of the kinds of things which you should consider including in your policy. When developing your own policies make sure that they are tailored to your local situation and institution. Always make sure that your organisation’s legal department has looked at them.

Whatever you do – whether you filter or don’t filter make sure that you have a policy about it!

Acceptable Use of Internet Resources Policy

  1. Statement about why the library is providing Internet access

    Gloucestershire County Library Service provides free public access to the Internet in keeping with its role as source of information, intellectual development and enrichment of the community (Gloucester)
  2. What type of material can be accessed on the Internet?

    Please not that some of the information available may be inaccurate, misleading and of a matter of personal opinion. Some aspects of the Internet can be harmful and of questionable legality (Kingston Upon Thames)
  3. What responsibility does the library have for material accessed?

    The Isle of Anglesey County Council accepts no responsibility for the nature of, or the accuracy of the information and data accessed and retrieved.
    (Isle of Anglesey)

    Gloucestershire County Library Service has no control over the information provided on the Internet and cannot be held responsible for the content or quality of the information retrieved.

    Walsall Library and Information Services is providing access to the Internet. However the library service does not have control of the information on the Internet. As with other information sources such as the television, telephones and videos, some material will be unsuitable for children and young people. Parents and carers are responsible for setting and conveying the standards their children should follow.
    (Walsall Library and Information Services)
  4. Who will be able to use the library’s workstations?

    Any member of Walsall Library and Information Services may use the Internet service.
    (Walsall Library and Information Services)

    Access is available to all library members and to ‘casual’ users, primarily visitors to the Borough
    (Dudley Libraries)
  5. What type of resources can/can’t users access?/How do you expect your users to act?

    The user will not access or attempt to access any material which is likely to be considered offensive. What is considered offensive will be at the sole discretion of the Librarian.

    You must not deliberately search for materials which will infringe the City Council’s Equal Opportunities or Anti Harassment Policies’

    Access to illegal sites and any illegal activity carried out in conjunction with such access are strictly forbidden and will be reported to the appropriate authorities.

    The following actions will not be acceptable and will result in that individual’s Internet access being withdrawn: illegal activities, or the viewing or distribution of illegal material, the use of foul or abusive language, online financial transactions, network gameplaying, accessing chatlines, any wilful damage to the computer or to the network

    …they agree that they will not create, access, copy, store, transmit or publish any material which is obscene, racist, defamatory or illegal; causes harassment or gross offence to others; would be a breach of copyright
  6. What happens if they break these rules?

    If a user breaks our conditions for using the web, we warn the user to stop. If he or she persists, then we will ask them to exit from the web and record the incident. If the user re-offends, we will flag his or her record so that future access to the web is automatically denied. This sanction will normally last for a year.

    Anyone found abusing the facility will be prohibited from using the system in the future
    (Kingston Upon Thames)

    Users who are deemed to be misusing or abusing the equipment or access to the Internet may be held liable. The site manager may prohibit use at his/her discretion.
    (Isle of Anglesey)
  7. What are the rules about children?

    Children under 16 will only be allowed access to the Internet with the prior approval of their parent/Guardian unless the access is specifically designed for use by children.

    As is the case with all other library materials, any restriction of a child’s access to the Internet is the responsibility of the child’s parent or legal guardian.

    Children and Young People under the age of 16 will be allowed access to the Internet provided that a consent form has been signed by a parent and a guardian. Children under 12 and under will be allowed access to the Internet but must be accompanied by a responsible adult.
    (Isle of Anglesey).

    Parents or guardians are required to authorise their children’s use of the Internet except in staffed homework centres’.

    In children’s libraries we provide access to recommended web sites only; we can also ensure that children whose guardians do not wish them to access the web at all are not allowed to do so

    Under 16 year olds using the service must agree to the following conditions of use: Under 16 year olds may use this service with the consent of a parent or guardian. Library staff, however, cannot supervise the use of this service although security software will be used for this age group, and the library service cannot take responsibility for any material accessed which a parent or guardian may consider suitable
  8. Does the library filter? Why/Why not?

    Software will be installed to regulate access to information which has the potential to offend and disturb and to deny access to un-registered users to directly ‘charged for services’
    (Isle of Anglesey)

    Users should be aware that Internet access from the libraries is filtered and that random checks may be made on sites visited.

    We accept that there is some material on the web which some users may find offensive. Our policy on access is informed by the freedom of information principles which apply to the provision of all library material. We consider that it is in the interests of Suffolk Library users and the free flow of information to try to manage web provision without the use of filtering software which in any case cannot block all offensive sites and may well block legitimate sites that we would wish to provide.
  9. Making people aware of the Acceptable Use Policy

    All our web terminals display clear guidelines on our acceptable use policy which users must accept before they can gain access to the web.

    All users must agree to the following conditions of use and sign this agreement


Public Internet Access and Filtering – Useful References

Presentations from today’s workshop and links to relevant other resources can be found at

Useful Books and Papers

Schneider, Karen (1997) A Practical Guide to Internet Filters. Neal-Schuman : New York

Smith, Mark (1999) Internet Policy Handbook for Libraries. Neal-Schuman : New York

An Introduction to Filtering – an issue paper from the Networked Services Policy Taskgroup written by Sarah Ormes. Available at

The Internet Filter Assessment Project – findings of research about how effectively filters work in public libraries

Public Libraries

Filtering Facts

Karen Schneider’s Collection of Filtering Resources

Public Library Internet Access Policies

UK Public Library Internet Access Policies

American Library Association Statement on Library Use of Filtering Software



Censorware: Hell well does Internet Filtering Software Protect Students? From the Electronic School Online

Armadillos Web Server: Acceptable Use Policies

National Association for Co-ordinators and Teachers of IT Internet Acceptable Use Policies

Filtering Resources at BECTA