Safety of Children in the Library Policy

The Hamilton Public Library welcomes and encourages children of all ages to enjoy the Library’s programs, collections, services and spaces. Library staff work to engage children, families and teens in positive ways, and provide support while they are in the Library. All customers are expected to abide by the Library’s  Customer Code of Conduct . Staff and customer share a commitment to maintain a pleasant, safe and respectful environment for learning and leisure, together we will create the opportunity for everyone to use the Library.

The Hamilton Public Library Board endorses the Ontario Library Association’s statements on Children’s and Teens’ Rights in the Public Library. Library staff are trained to assist children in using the Library but cannot assume responsibility for the safety and well-being of children left unattended in the building. Library policies and services are designed to provide a safe and welcoming environment for customers of all ages but parents need to use the same caution with their children at the library as they would in any other public setting.

Responsibility for the welfare and the behaviour of children using the library ultimately rests with the parent/legal guardian or an assigned caregiver. The Library recognizes the following terms as stipulated in the Ontario Child and Family Services Act (CFSA) with regard to the supervision of children:

Section 79(3) “No person having charge of a child less than 16 years of age shall leave the child without making provision for his or her supervision and care that is reasonable in the circumstances.”

Section 79(4) “Where a person is charged with contravening Subsection (3) and the child is less than 10 years of age, the onus of establishing that the person made provision for the child’s supervision and care that was reasonable in the circumstances rests with the person.”

Library staff are obligated by the Ontario Child and Family Services Act to call the Police or the Hamilton Children’s Aid Society if they have any concerns about the safety and well being of a child.

General Guidelines

Children under the age of 10 should be accompanied by an adult or caregiver while in the Library. If a child is left at the library at closing time or in the event of an emergency situation or closure the staff person in charge will attempt to contact the parents or caregivers. If the parent or adult caregivers cannot be contacted within 10 minutes after closing, staff will notify the police.

Parents must ensure that children requiring supervision are brought to the library with a responsible caregiver. Parents or caregivers are responsible for supervising their child’s access to all library resources including the Internet and Digital Media Lab technologies. Children under the age of 10 must have a parent or caregiver in the immediate vicinity unless they are participating in a library program. We ask that parents or caregivers who do not attend a program with the child under the age of 10 must remain on the premises. Library staff may request that a parent or caregiver be present to sign a child in and out of a program.

Children ages 10 and over are welcome to use the library independently on a regular basis, but parents are still responsible for the behaviour of any children while in the library.