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Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
Internet Safety and Use Policy


Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP) is committed to providing free and open access to informational, educational, recreational and cultural resources for library users of all ages and backgrounds. Throughout its history, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has made information available in a variety of formats, from print materials to audiovisual materials. The library's computer system provides the opportunity to integrate electronic resources from information networks around the world with the library's other resources.

The Internet, as an information resource, enables the library to provide information beyond the confines of its own collection. It allows access to ideas, information and commentary from around the globe. In introducing the Internet as an information resource, the library's goal is to enhance its existing collection in size and depth and as a public access agency, give opportunity to anyone who wishes to participate in navigating the Internet.

Free wireless Internet access for customers who bring their own laptops with wireless cards is offered presently at three Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh sites -- Main (in Oakland), Downtown & Business, and Squirrel Hill.

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh will provide its customers equal access to all formats of information. The same access to subjects and content that is provided to children in print and audio formats will be provided via the Internet when available.

Staff should not attempt to limit Internet access to information, especially when it is made available in other formats in the Library. Rated materials are equally available to adults and children; however, it is a parental responsibility to monitor and evaluate a child's selection of materials.

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh will continue to offer its customers access to "chat groups" and email. There is a potential for abuse when such discussion may become obscene or "harmful to minors". When this occurs, customers may be asked by staff to close the site.


The Internet is a worldwide network of computers, which interconnects computers ranging from desktop personal computers to the largest super computers. No one is in charge of the Internet. Millions more computers connect to the Internet each year. The Internet offers access to a wealth of materials and information that is personally, professionally and culturally enriching to individuals of all ages.

Provision of access to the Internet does not mean or imply that the library endorses or sanctions the content or point of view of any of the information or commentary found on the Internet. The Internet is an unregulated medium. Library staff cannot control access points, which often change rapidly and unpredictably. Accuracy, completeness, and timeliness of information found on the Internet vary widely. The Internet does contain material of a controversial nature. Some information accessed electronically on the Internet may not meet the criteria in the library's Collection Development Policy. Users must use critical judgment in relying on information found on the Internet and to determine what information is appropriate to their needs.

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's free wireless network is not a secure network. We recommend that customers do not use this network for the transfer of sensitive data, such as credit card numbers or bank account numbers, even while using the encryption built into customers' web browsers. This data would be vulnerable during transit on the network. Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh accepts no liability for any loss of privacy or data customers may experience.

CIPA and NCIPA Legislation

The Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) and the Neighborhood Children's Internet Protection Act (NCIPA) went into effect April 20, 2001. This law requires public libraries receiving certain federal funds to adopt Internet safety policies that address the safety of minors accessing the Internet in libraries. CIPA requires all computers in a public library to be filtered by July 1, 2004 if that library accepts any federal funds for Internet access or computers used for Internet access. The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is complying with this law as a member of the eiNetwork consortium, which receives a significant amount of federal funding to provide Internet access to over 85 libraries around Allegheny County.

The Library provides access to Internet resources equally to all library users and upholds and affirms the right of each individual to have access to constitutionally protected material.

Parents and children are strongly encouraged to read "Child Safety on the Information Highway" and "Teen Safety on the Information Highway" together. In particular, the sections Guidelines for Parents, My Rules for Internet Safety, and Basic Rules of Online Safety for Teens provide important assistance in helping minors to be safe while using the Internet.

Parents or legal guardians, and not the Library or its staff, however, are responsible for monitoring their children's use of the Internet and for the information selected and / or accessed by their children. The Library strongly encourages parents or legal guardians to supervise their children's Internet use and to provide them with guidelines about acceptable use.

Members of the Library staff are available to assist parents with advice about their children's use of the Internet and to answer questions or concerns. The Library has created web pages for children that provide content and links to other Web sites that, in the professional opinion of the library staff, parents or legal guardians will find appropriate for their children.

Misuse of the computer, including customers' laptops using CLP's wireless access, will result in the loss of computer privileges, potential loss of library privileges and possible prosecution. Such misuse includes, but is not limited to, viewing material which is obscene or "harmful to minors"; using the computer for illegal activities; sending spam; hacking into the library computer system or any other computer system; damaging or attempting to damage computer equipment or software; interfering with systems operations, integrity or security; gaining unauthorized access to another person's files; sending harassing messages to other computer users; altering or attempting to alter the library computer's settings; and violating copyright laws and software licensing agreements.



The Internet, also known as the Net, is a worldwide system of computer networks -- a network of networks in which users at any one Internet-connected computer can, if they have permission, get information from any other computer (and sometimes talk directly to users at other computers). It was first conceived by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) of the U.S. government in 1969 and was first known as the ARPANET. The original aim was to create a network that would allow users of a research computer at one university to be able to "talk to" research computers at other universities. A side benefit of ARPANet's design was that, because messages could be routed or rerouted in more than one direction, the network could continue to function even if parts of it were destroyed in the event of a military attack or other disaster.

Today, the Internet is a public, cooperative, and self-sustaining facility accessible to hundreds of millions of people worldwide. The most widely used part of the Internet is the World Wide Web (see below). The Internet is also used for email, chat, transferring files, and e-commerce.

World Wide Web

Also known as WWW, www, or The Web. A technical definition of the World Wide Web is: all the resources and users on the Internet that are using the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). HTTP is what makes web pages work the way they do.

A broader definition comes from the organization that Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee helped found, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C): "The World Wide Web is the universe of network-accessible information, an embodiment of human knowledge."

Harmful to Minors and Obscene

The U.S. Federal Courts and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania State Law have set forth definitions of "obscenity" and what is "harmful to minors".

"Obscenity" is limited to bestiality and child pornography.

"Harmful to Minors" involves materials or performances that involve explicit sexual materials that depict nudity, sexual conduct or sadomasochistic abuse and appeal predominantly to prurient, shameful or morbid interest of minors, is offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community and taken as a whole lacks serious literary, artistic, political, educational or scientific value for minors. Pennsylvania Obscenity Statute - 18 Pa.C.S. 5903

The Pennsylvania Legislature has expressly exempted public libraries from prosecution for displaying or permitting the display of obscene materials to minors. While the Library has been exempted from the obscenity statute and prosecution, we are under certain obligations with regard to the CIPA legislation, and additionally we will assume practices that fully regard the issue of what is harmful to minors.

Updated June 23, 2005.

See also Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's Pointers for Parents: Children and the Internet, Online Privacy Policy, and Position Paper on Internet Access to Pornography by Children in the Library

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