Children in the Libraries

Safety Issues

The “Children in UCI Facilities” section of UCI’s Policy 900-10, Policy on Use and Scheduling of UCI Facilities (section C), which might appear to forbid unaccompanied children in the libraries, is intended instead only to address situations where employees bring children to the office in lieu of finding a babysitter, and is concerned primarily with the risk of exposing children to equipment and other environmental hazards, and with the disruption that the presence of children might cause to employees. Policy 900-10 and other university policies about safety may be used to advise against the presence of “parent-free” children in the Libraries only to the extent that the library environment presents potential physical hazards and opportunities to disrupt others.

Children and Offensive Materials

The Libraries’ User Rights and Responsibilities policy covers issues of passive exposure of children as well as adults to offensive materials; it also covers allegations of children as well as adults actively viewing offensive materials. Children who should not be left unattended for safety and disruption reasons should probably not be left unattended for other reasons by a responsible parent, but that is a parental decision. Those people under age 18 who would not need to be attended by a parent for safety and disruptive reasons should not be of concern for other hypothetical reasons either, such as possible exposure to or active viewing of offensive library materials.

Children Causing a Disturbance

If a child is causing a disturbance, library staff should try to learn from the child how to contact the child’s parents. If the child gives the staff member this information, and if the staff member feels comfortable about contacting the parents, the staff member should do so. The staff member should alert the parents that the child is causing a disturbance and that the police will be called if the child continues, giving the parents an opportunity to intervene first. Most parents will address a problem right away if made aware of it, and appreciate being contacted first by someone else other than the police. If the child is causing a disturbance the issue of parental neglect does not arise under the law. However, if the police are called, they will take the necessary steps to stop the child from causing a disturbance.

If a child refuses to give information about the parents, or consistently causes problems, or the staff member does not feel comfortable calling the parents, then the staff member should call the UCI Police.

March 10, 2005