Access to Materials Policy
Endorsed by the Alameda County Library Advisory Commission on June 3, 1998
The Alameda County Library serves suburban cities, unincorporated communities, and outlying areas whose residents represent many ethnically diverse populations, and many socio-economic and educational levels. The Library's primary responsibility is to provide materials in a variety of formats to meet the expressed and anticipated needs and interests of this diverse clientele.
The Library provides resources and materials that encourage an informed and enlightened society. It organizes materials and guides users of all ages in their search for reliable information, greater knowledge, and an enhanced quality of life. It is guided by a sense of responsibility from the past to the present and to the future in developing a collection that encompasses a broad range of human knowledge. The Library also has the responsibility to provide materials that meet language and other needs of changing ethnic populations in its service area. The Library does not try to determine what the public should read, hear, or view, nor does it select materials as if granting a seal of merit. Rather, it attempts to meet the needs of an inquisitive, enlightened clientele.
Materials are selected in many media to satisfy residents of all ages both as individuals and as members of groups. Materials are included for people with visual and hearing disabilities. The Library serves as a supplementary source in meeting the educational needs of students. Although the Library attempts to provide material on every subject and grade level, no attempt is made to match the collection to a particular curriculum. Consideration is given to the needs of people engaged in self-education programs by providing introductory and more advanced materials for those who wish to pursue independent study. Technical materials are generally selected for the general reader rather than the specialist.
The County Library recognizes its responsibility to make available a representative selection of materials on all points of view in a variety of formats. The Library provides resources which individuals may use to examine issues freely and formulate their own opinions. Materials will not be excluded because they may cause concern to some individuals. They will not be excluded solely because they contain political, religious, or moral views that may be controversial, nor because of language or frank sexual content if they meet other selection criteria.
The Library seeks to present sound, factual data and honest expressions of opinion on all sides of controversial issues. This obligation arises not only from the need for balance and variety in the collection, but also from the obligation to uphold the traditional American doctrine of Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States and supported by the American Library Association's Library Bill of Rights. In a democracy, it is essential that people have free access to ideas, even those of which some people disapprove. Differing ideas and opinions can be effectively analyzed only through free access to information.
It is the policy of the Library to remain neutral on public issues. It does not endorse the opinions or points of view expressed in its collection of materials. Materials are selected using professional standards, regardless of the personal views of any of the library staff.
The responsibility for the selection of materials rests with experienced librarians who evaluate materials within the context of this policy and the limits of available resources. The County Librarian has the final authority in determining the content of the Library's collection.
To fulfill the Library's Mission, we acquire materials which:
Librarians responsible for selecting library materials will be guided by those of the following criteria which are applicable. Not all of the criteria will apply to every selection decision.
The Library has established long-term arrangements to supply certain materials on a continuing basis. These arrangements will be reviewed regularly to ensure that the materials received meet community needs, collection levels, and selection criteria.
Adopted by the Board of Supervisors on June 16, 1998.
Alameda County Library participates in universal borrowing under the California Library Services Act and will provide in-person loan service to residents of all California public library jurisdictions. Alameda County Library cards are available for free to anyone living, working, or going to school in the state of California.
It is the policy of the Alameda County Library in accordance with California Government Code Section 6267 to keep all library circulation and registration records confidential. See Chapter 7.01 (Privacy) for more detail. Please help us protect member privacy by reporting lost or stolen library cards or materials immediately.
To encourage the responsible use and timely return of County-owned property, Alameda County Library bills members for damaged and unreturned items. We do not charge overdue fines.
Example: All items check out for 21 days. The chart below indicates the amount the member would owe based on the amount of time an item is kept.
How long the item is kept
Returned 15 days after checkout or renewal –
Returned 21 days after checkout or renewal –
42 days after checkout or renewal the member is billed for the cost of the item and may not borrow again until the item is returned or the bill is paid
The cover price of the item
Returned 45 days after checkout or renewal –
$0, the bill is removed if the item is returned in good condition
Returned 365 days after checkout or renewal –
$0, the bill is removed if the item is returned in good condition
Never returned, or seriously damaged
The cover price of the item
Exception to this Rule
Tech It Out Laptops
$2.00 per hour; Maximum $250 at 5 days – this charge will not be removed when the laptop is returned
Updated July 2019
The Child Safety Policy supports the goal of the Alameda County Library to provide a safe and positive experience for every child and caregiver who visits a Library. As the Library neither supervises children nor acts in loco parentis, these Child Safety Policy guidelines help staff navigate occasions in which children in the library lack supervision. They provide guidance for the following conditions: unattended children, safety emergencies, and children left at the library after or at closing.
Children who are unattended may become frightened or disruptive, creating a danger to themselves or others. Parents, guardians, and designated caregivers are responsible for the safety and well-being of their children.
Designated Caregivers: For the purpose of the below guidelines, a Designated Caregiver is defined as someone 16 or older who has been assigned the responsibility to supervise a child aged eight or younger. Neither Library staff nor its volunteers act as children’s designated caregivers.
During open hours, it is the responsibility of a parent, legal guardian, or designated caregiver aged sixteen or over to supervise a child who is aged eight or younger. Young children, especially those who are unable to communicate their first and last names, their phone number, and the name of the person with whom they came to the library, must always be visible to the caregiver who brought them.
Library staff cannot care for, watch, or assume responsibility for a child left unattended at the Library. Children are expected to observe the behavioral guidelines as set forth in the Library’s Behavior Policy while in the library. Children who are left unattended may disrupt the Library experience for others. Members, including minors, may be asked to leave the Library for the day when they disrupt library service for others, contribute to unsafe conditions, or inhibit the ability for Library staff to perform their duties.
For safety reasons, when a disruptive child aged eight or younger is unsupervised, Library staff will attempt to contact a parent, legal guardian or designated caregiver and will make an effort to stay with the child while doing so, rather than simply asking the young child to leave the library. If no parent, legal guardian or designated caregiver is reached within a reasonable amount of time, staff may call local police or child protective services.
In emergency cases when a parent, legal guardian or other designated caregiver cannot be reached, library staff may contact local police or emergency services. Examples of this are:
Minors who are left at a library at closing are not the responsibility of library staff. Staff will attempt to call a child’s parent, legal guardian, or caregiver if possible, and will wait with another staff member for fifteen minutes after closing the Library to reach the child’s caregiver. If a parent, legal guardian or caregiver has neither retrieved the child nor been reached by staff, library staff will contact local police to request that they assume responsibility and retrieve the child.
Updated June 2019
Alameda County Library’s mission is to offer opportunities for lifelong learning and enjoyment that support individual and community growth. The Library strives to offer welcoming spaces for the community to attend programs, study, browse collections, utilize technology, and use a wide range of library services.
Library members have the right to quality service in an atmosphere that is respectful, safe, and free of disturbances. Behavior that disrupts or obstructs others’ use of the Library, threatens the safety of members or staff, or inhibits the ability for staff to perform their duties is strictly prohibited. The following Behavioral Guidelines are designed to ensure equitable community access to library services. Members who do not follow these guidelines may have their privileges suspended or revoked, as described below in the Enforcement Guidelines area of the policy.
The following is a non-exhaustive list of activities that may disrupt other members’ use of the Library, threaten safety, or obstruct staff performing their duties:
Members who violate the Public Behavior Policy may be instructed to leave the Library for the duration of the day when staff deems their actions to be disruptive of others’ use of the Library, threatening towards the safety of the public and staff, or if they obstruct staff from performing their duties. Depending on the severity of the situation staff may provide a warning in lieu of expulsion, and instruct a member to leave the Library if the inappropriate behavior continues. Staff will document all violations of the Public Behavior Policy and enforcement actions.
When directing a member to leave the Library, staff will provide a copy of the Public Behavior Policy, will identify those elements of the policy the member has violated, and will inform the member that continued violations may result in longer suspension of privileges.
Upon return, an expelled member is expected to follow the Library’s Public Behavior Policy. Illegal activity or continued, repeat violations will result in suspension of privileges for extended durations. Duration of suspension will be dependent upon the following factors:
Members will be informed in writing of suspensions that last longer than a day. Suspension letters will refer to the relevant factors when identifying the suspension length. Members may appeal a suspension within seven days of receiving a suspension by sending a written appeal to the County Librarian. Suspension letters will provide details of the procedure for appeal, including contact information.
Prior to receiving a response to an appeal, or until the suspension has expired, a suspended member may neither use nor enter the property of any of the Alameda County Libraries unless otherwise specified in writing. Suspended members entering Library property prior to the identified date of return are considered trespassers and Police will be contacted. Trespassers may be subject to arrest, per California Penal Code 602.1 (b):
CA Penal Code 602.1 (b) Any person who intentionally interferes with any lawful business carried on by the employees of a public agency open to the public, by obstructing or intimidating those attempting to carry on business, or those persons there to transact business with the public agency, and who refuses to leave the premises of the public agency after being requested to leave by the office manager or a supervisor of the public agency, or by a peace officer acting at the request of the office manager or a supervisor of the public agency, is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for up to 90 days, or by a fine of up to four hundred dollars ($400), or by both that imprisonment and fine.
Updated June 2019
In its role as public information center for the community, and in support of its mission to support community growth, the Library makes available exhibit and display areas, including bulletin boards and space to share printed and/or digital materials with the public. Such spaces are available to organizations and individuals (including library staff) engaged in educational, cultural, intellectual, charitable, and other non-commercial activities. Display spaces must be reserved, and materials must be approved by the Library prior to posting or distribution.
Display areas are made available to promote the mission, values, and vision of the Library:
Mission. To offer opportunities and resources for lifelong learning and enjoyment that support individual and community growth. We remain responsive by providing welcoming spaces, outreach, materials, expertise, technology, partnerships and innovation.
Values. Respect, Integrity, Courage.
Vision. Infinite possibilities for all to connect, share, succeed, thrive.
Alameda County Library does not advocate or endorse the content of displays or exhibits, or the viewpoints of exhibitors it hosts.
If you believe that a display, exhibit, or printed material is not suitable for the Library, you may complete a Request for Reconsideration form based on the guidelines below. Library staff will consider your request and you will receive a written response.
Acceptance of materials is subject to approval of the Library Manager. As space is limited, preference will be given to Alameda County Library, other local public agencies, and then to organizations and individuals engaged in educational, cultural, intellectual, or charitable activity.
All materials to be posted or available for handout must be provided to library staff for posting or distribution. Materials will be posted as space allows for up to 30 days or until the information is no longer timely (such as after the date of an event announced in a posting), whichever comes first.
Reasons for refusing a display, exhibit, or material:
The Library’s meeting rooms are available to governmental agencies and nonprofit community groups for educational, cultural, intellectual and civic activities. Access is granted to nonprofit groups on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.
Permission to utilize rooms does not imply Library endorsement of the goals, policies or activities of any individual or group. The Library does not endorse the viewpoints of meeting room users and may not appear to do so in publicity. Promotional materials intended for distribution on Library premises is subject to branch managerial review to verify the library is not depicted as giving endorsement to meeting room users.
The applicant and his/her organization will be fully responsible for ensuring that use of the room is in accordance with Library policies including, but not limited to: the orderly conduct of attendees, the loss or damage to Library equipment or property, the posted occupancy and emergency exit clearance.
Private uses of the meeting rooms are prohibited.
Rules of Use:
Individual branches differ according to space, availability and programming. The Branch Manager or designee will have final approval, oversight and control over the meeting room and all activities in relationship to scheduling and utilization of the room and retains the right to modify and revoke privileges associated with this service.
Alameda County Library protects the right to privacy and confidentiality of all library members. Our commitment to privacy and confidentiality has deep roots in the ethics and practices of librarianship. In accordance with the American Library Association's Code of Ethics: "We protect each library user's right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted." This policy explains information the Library collects and member privacy options.
Alameda County Library avoids creating unnecessary records, retaining records not needed for library business purposes and engaging in practices that might make personally identifiable information accessible without consent. The Library protects personally identifiable information by storing it on secure servers and changing passwords regularly.
What information does Alameda County Library collect?
Information the Library collects includes, but is not limited to:
Library Accounts and Borrowing Records:
To obtain a library card, members are required to provide identifying information to associate with the account. This information includes member name, birthdate, and address and/or telephone number. Members can also provide optional information, including additional authorized users, a preferred language and/or preferred name. The Library keeps this information for the life of the library account.
Borrowing records, which are stored temporarily, include items currently checked out or on hold, overdue materials with fines and records of past fines paid.
The Library does not maintain a history of items borrowed and returned on time.
Lost Library Cards:
It is the cardholder’s responsibility to notify the Library immediately if a library card is lost or stolen or if there is a concern that an unauthorized person is using the card or card number.
Maintaining Account Information:
Members may access their own personally identifiable information held by the Library and are responsible for keeping that information accurate and up-to-date. Staff is available to assist members with updating this information, or it may be updated online by accessing the member account.
Members may activate optional features in their accounts to save searches, create personal lists, or maintain a history of items borrowed. This data is not accessible without the member’s library card number and may be permanently deleted by the member at any time.
Members under the age of 13 who wish to obtain a library card must have a parent or legal guardian sign or co-sign with them at the time of the application. Both parent/legal guardian’s and child’s names will be listed on the account and both will be allowed to access information about the account. The access for the parent/legal guardian is revoked at age of 13 unless permission is granted specifically by the child.
Access at Member’s Request:
Members wanting the convenience of allowing another person to access their account may authorize an additional person to do so by including that person’s name on the application, thereby granting access to the full range of rights and responsibilities of library cardholders. This authorization may be revoked by submitting a request in writing.
Users authorized by the member, including parents/legal guardians, who wish to obtain access to any library registration or borrowing records, or who wish to pick up items on hold, must provide the account holder’s library card or card number, or ID matching an authorized name on the account.
Items on Hold:
The Library provides members the convenience of self-service holds. Held materials are shelved in a public area. For privacy reasons, members may request to have their items kept behind the counter for pick up.
Library Uses of Personally Identifiable Information:
The Library's public computers delete any locally stored Internet browsing data and all searches after each session. Session logs are also deleted regularly. When utilizing the Library’s public computers, members should take appropriate steps to safeguard personally identifiable information, including deleting information saved to storage media borrowed from the Library, logging-out of accounts, and ending the session or locking the device before stepping away.
Questions and Feedback:
The Library treats library resources information requests or inquiries, regardless of how they are received (in person, via telephone, fax, email or online) confidentially. Personal identifying information related to these questions is used only for the purpose stated by the collection tool (form, survey, etc.) and questions are purged on an ongoing basis.
Answers to questions received that do not contain personally identifiable information may be shared publicly to facilitate access for others to the same answer.
Library surveys, focus groups, comment cards and other methods of soliciting feedback are voluntary. Any personally identifiable information collected from these tools will be used only for the purpose of improving library services and is not retained.
The Library website provides remote access to vital content and services for Library members. As members browse through the Library's website, certain information about the visit is automatically gathered and stored. No personally identifiable information about website visitors is collected or stored.
The Library automatically collects and stores only the following information:
This information is gathered for statistical purposes only and enables the Library to improve the website and services.
The Library's website contains links to other sites including providers of online database services and eBook/eMedia services. The Alameda County Library is not responsible for the privacy practices of other sites, which may be different from the privacy practices described in this policy. The Library encourages library users to become familiar with privacy policies of other sites visited and services used, including linked sites.
Working with Law Enforcement:
Library registration, circulation and other personally identifiable member use records will not be made available to any agency of the state, federal or local government unless a subpoena, warrant, court order or other investigatory document is issued by a court. In the event of such an order, only the County Librarian or a designated member of the library management team has the authority to release records.
Members may conduct only legal activity while using library resources and services. Nothing in this policy prevents the library from exercising its right to enforce its Behavior Policy (see Chapter 4.02), protect its facilities, network and equipment from harm or prevent the use of library facilities and equipment for illegal purposes.
For security purposes, the library can electronically log activity to monitor its public computers and external access to its network and reserves the right to review such logs when a violation of law or library policy is suspected. Staff is authorized to take immediate action to protect the security of library members, staff, facilities, computers and the network. This authority includes contacting law enforcement and providing information gathered from the library’s network that may identify the individual(s) suspected of a violation.
Applicable State and Federal Laws
USA PATRIOT Act – Sections 214-216 of this Act gives law enforcement agencies expanded authority to obtain library records, secretly monitor electronic communications and prohibits libraries and librarians from informing library users of monitoring or information requests.
California Government Code – Section 6267 of this code defines the exceptions to the California Public Records Act related to library registration and use. http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201120120SB445
COPPA (Child Online Privacy and Protection Rule) – Imposes restrictions on websites or online services directed to children under the age of 13. https://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/rules/rulemaking-regulatory-reform-proceedings/childrens-online-privacy-protection-rule
Alameda County Library provides public access to the Internet in support of its role as a key provider of services and materials to support the informational, educational, and recreational needs of people in our communities.
The Internet offers access to a wealth of information from around the world which can be personally, professionally or culturally enriching. Library staff attempt to identify on Alameda County Library's home page good starting points for searches and links to Internet resources which are consistent with the Library's mission and organizational values. But, because the Internet is a vast and unregulated network, it also enables access to information, images and commentary beyond the confines of the Library's collection, mission, selection criteria and collection development policies. Because of this access, and because sites change often and unpredictably, the Library cannot protect users from information and images which they might find offensive or disturbing.
Information found on the Internet may not be accurate, current or complete. Library customers are advised to exercise critical judgment in evaluating the validity of any information they find on the Internet. Alameda County Library does not monitor nor does it have any control over the information accessed through its Internet terminals. The Library assumes no responsibility for any damages, direct or indirect, arising from its connections to the Internet.
Providing Internet access at public terminals involves adapting what is ordinarily a private instrument, the personal computer, to a public setting. When using a Library computer, privacy cannot be guaranteed. Users are cautioned that the Library computers on which the public can access the Internet are in public areas which must be shared by library users of all ages, backgrounds and sensibilities. Individuals are asked to consider this and to respect the sensibilities of others when accessing potentially offensive information and images. Alameda County Library offers privacy enhancing computer screens for use on public Internet computers. Use of Library terminals for viewing or disseminating illegal images is not permitted.
Users are cautioned that the Internet is not a secure medium and the privacy of electronic communication cannot be guaranteed. All transactions, files and communication are vulnerable to unauthorized access and use and, therefore, should be considered public.
Alameda County Library supports parents and guardians in their efforts to guide their children's intellectual and social development. Parents are encouraged to review the guidelines located at Connect Safely and discuss appropriate use with their children. As is the case with other resources in the Library, it is the sole right and responsibility of the parent or guardian to provide any monitoring or restriction of their own child's access to the Internet.
Procedures regarding time limits and reservations vary by branch. Users should contact their local library for details regarding use at their branch library. All users of the Internet in the Library are expected to use this resource in a responsible and courteous manner, consistent with the purposes for which it is provided, and to abide by the Library's Public Conduct Policy and any Internet-specific rules, regulations and procedures established for its use. To provide an atmosphere that permits proper use of Library resources, Internet users are not allowed to gather in groups of more than two people per terminal. Library users are asked to respect the privacy of Internet users and to refrain from watching over someone's shoulder or otherwise intentionally observing a stranger's use.
Violations may result in loss of Internet privileges. Any illegal activity involving the Library's Internet connections will be subject to prosecution by the appropriate authorities.
Endorsed by the Alameda County Library Advisory Commission, September 10, 1997 and September 16, 1998. Approved by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors on December 7, 1999 produced by Alameda County Library Community Relations 12/99.
All branches of the Alameda County Library offer computers for public use. All of the computers are PCs. Most public use computers offer Internet access as well as such applications as MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Use of these computers requires a valid Alameda County Library card or guest pass.
Public use computers can print documents via the library's public use pay printers. Printed pages can be picked up at the branch's centrally located pay printer and require the use of a printing debit card. Printing debit cards can be purchased from the vending machine located by the library's photocopy machines. Each printed page will deduct 15 cents from your printing debit card.
If you have any further questions please contact the reference desk of your local library for more details.
You may be photographed or video-recorded during the program, event or class.
By being present, you consent to the use of your and your family’s images resulting from the photograph/video-recording, and any reproductions or adaptations of the images for promotion by the Alameda County Library and its partners and representatives. This includes but is not limited to all print, audio, digital, video, web, and social media with no limit on time or location. By consenting to the use of you and your family member's images, you agree to hold the County harmless for such use. If you have any further questions please contact the reference desk of your local library for more details.
Alameda County Library (ACL) uses social media as a tool to create a welcoming online space where library users can find useful information and resources and can communicate with library staff and other users. ACL is committed to a social media presence that reflects our core values of integrity, respect and providing opportunities and resources for lifelong learning.
This policy governs the publication of and commentary on official ACL social media sites including, blogs and social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, Pinterest and YouTube. This policy is in addition to existing privacy policies regarding the use of the internet.
For the purposes of this policy, social media refers to community created content sites such as blogs, photo-and video-sharing sites, and wikis, including but not exclusively, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Pinterest, Instagram and others. This is content created by ACL and maintained by staff.
Comments, posts and messages are welcome on the ACL social media sites. While the library recognizes and respects differences of opinion, all such interactions will be regularly monitored and reviewed for content and relevancy.
ACL’s social media sites are moderated online discussion sites and not public forums. ACL reserves the right to review, edit, move, or delete any comment, message or post placed on any of our social media sites, at our sole discretion and without notice. Any content which contains the following will be removed and the user may be barred from posting any subsequent content to ACL social media sites.
The following is not allowed:
Obscene or racist content
Personal attacks, insults, or threatening language
Potentially libelous statements
Plagiarized or pirated content
Private, personal information published without consent
Comments or hyperlinks unrelated to the content of the forum
Commercial promotions or spam
Organized political activity
Photos or other images that fall in any of the above categories
Users are solely responsible for their comments, messages, posts, and any information they provide on the ACL social media sites.
Any information or material placed online, including advice and opinions, are the views and responsibility of those users making the comments and do not necessarily represent the views of the library. ACL does not endorse, sanction, encourage, verify, or agree with the comments, opinions, or statements posted on any of its social media sites. You agree that ACL assumes or has no responsibility or liability with respect to any information or materials posted by others.
By submitting comments, messages, posts, or engaging in any form of communication on ACL social media sites, you agree to the above rules and grant ACL a royalty-free, non-exclusive, unrestricted license to use, reproduce, publish, distribute, publicly display, publicly perform, create derivative works from, and distribute such communications and/or ideas in any form or medium.