The safety of children left alone in a library building is a serious concern of the library staff. The responsibility for the safety and behavior of children in the library rests with the parent/caregiver and not with the library personnel. Library employees cannot be responsible for children who are unattended or demonstrating inappropriate behavior. When children are left alone they may become frightened or anxious. If they wander through the building they may encounter hazards such as stairs, doors, furniture or electrical equipment. They may also become bored and restless and could disturb the enjoyment and work of others. The following policy has been adopted concerning the care and behavior of young library users.
Children up to age eight (8) must have a parent/caregiver in the immediate vicinity of and in visual contact with the child. The assigned caregiver must be a responsible person aged sixteen (16) years or above and must be able to provide emergency contact information. An exception would be children attending a library program without a parent/caregiver in the room. However, the parent/caregiver is expected to remain in the library building and immediately join the child at the end of the program.
If a child in this age group is found unattended, library staff will attempt to locate the parent/caregiver in the library and inform him/her of the rules. If the parent/caregiver cannot be found, or if the child is found unattended again, the police will be called for assistance.
If a child in this age group violates the Library Behavior Policy, the child and the parent/caregiver will be informed of the rules. If inappropriate behavior continues, the family may be asked to leave the library.
Children age eight (8) and older may use the library on their own except during regular school hours. (See Truancy, Home Schooled Students). However, parents are still responsible for actions and the well-being of their child(ren). Children using inappropriate behavior may be asked to leave the library. This is a particular concern in inclement weather and after dark. All children should have the telephone number of someone who can assist them in an emergency.
Teenagers are treated as adult users. However, they are still legally the responsibility of their parents and should have an emergency contact available.
The Avondale Public Library will do its best to uphold Arizona State laws on truancy, (ARS 15-802, 15-803, 15-805). If the child is truant, he/she will be informed of the law before officers are called and will have the opportunity to use the phone to call a parent/guardian for a ride if needed.
Home Schooled Students
In order to use the public library alone during school hours, those who are ages eight (8) and up and are home schooled, will be required to have a letter with them from the parent/guardian stating the child is home schooled. The letter will include emergency contact information. The parent/guardian will be called by staff to confirm the home school status. The school district may also be contacted to confirm home school status. If the child has a Virtual School, or other online school ID, they may log into their account as proof of home school status.
Children who do not have transportation home at closing time will be asked for telephone numbers of people who can pick them up at the library. Based on the age of the child, if a child is not picked up within 15 minutes of closing, library staff will call the Avondale Police Department to take custody of children under age 10. Two Library staff members will stay with the child after closing until the parent or the police arrive. The police should be notified that they no longer need to come if the parent arrives before the police arrive. Under no circumstances is a staff member ever to drive any patron home, adult or child.