Children in the Library
The Bellingham Library is committed to providing a wide range of services and programs to all library users regardless of age. Service to children is of vital importance. The policy on children in the library is not intended to restrict library service to children; rather the policy was adopted to ensure the general safety and well-being of all children who use the library.
Preschool and kindergarten children must be supervised (within eyesight view) by a responsible person (parent, mature relative, or care provider) at all times while visiting the library.
Children in Grades 1-6 may use the library, subject to the rules regarding proper behavior, provided a parent is in the building.
Children in Grades 4-6 who are mature enough to meet the library’s behavior expectations may attend the After School Kids (ASK) Program unattended (Monday through Friday from 2:30-4:45 pm on school days, hours vary for early release days) provided their parent or guardian registers them for the program. Both the parent and child(ren) will sign an agreement on the library’s behavior expectations. The library will notify parents/guardians of children in grades 4-6 who violate the policy agreement as signed upon registration.
Children in Grades 7-12 may use the library unattended for an amount of time appropriate to their age and maturity. Children in grades 7-12 who violate the behavior policy will be informed of the rules. If the misbehavior continues, the child will be told to leave the library property. Staff members are not obligated to contact a parent or guardian if the grade 7-12 minor child is asked to leave the library property for violation of the behavior policy.
Responsible persons must remain in programs with children who require supervision, regardless of age. However parents are not permitted in the ASK or Teen Room Programs in the after school hours other than to check in or to pick up their children.
The library does not assume responsibility for the behavior or safety of children of any age who are left unaccompanied in the library. This includes watching children while parents participate in library programs or other activities in the library.
Parents are liable for all damages done by their children to library property.
If a child of any age is not picked up by closing time, or a child is not of age to be at the library unattended, the library staff will make every attempt to locate the parents by telephone. If the staff is unable to reach the parents, the library staff will contact the Bellingham Police Department.
Policy and procedure on behavior enforcement of unattended minors
The library’s behavior enforcement policy exists to ensure the library is able to be enjoyed by all. Our behavior policy for all library patrons also applies to children. https://www.bellinghamma.org/library/policies/pages/library-behavior
Unattended minors of any age that repeatedly violate the library’s behavior policy are not mature enough to vistit the library unattended. We will contact the parent/guardian of unattended children that repeatedly violate the library behavior policy to notify them that their child is not meeting the library’s behavior policy. Parents/guardians should be aware that if improvements are not immediately forthcoming, the child will not be permitted to visit the library without an adult.
The library may contact the police to notify them of unattended children at the library who do not meet our age, registration or behavior expectations if we are unable to reach a parent/guardian.
Approved: Library Board of Trustees, July 11, 2019