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Announcement All Pratt buildings are currently closed because of COVID-19, however remote and contact free services are available.

General Policy

The Library provides free access to the Internet as a tool for staff and customers.

Some Internet sites, databases and resources may require passwords, student identification, or access fees. The Library makes every effort to provide a stable and effective Internet service for its customers. However, Internet resources may be unavailable due to network or service issues beyond the Library’s control.

As with all Library materials, programs and services, the responsibility for what minors read or view on the Internet rests with a parent or legal guardian. Library staff is available to assist customers in selecting or suggesting the best mix of information resources to meet their needs. Users should exercise caution and follow safety measures when interacting with strangers. In particular, parents should caution their minor children about sharing personal information on the Internet.

Filtering

The Library utilizes filtering software on all Library workstations and devices using the Library’s Wi-Fi network.

The Library receives federal funding in support of public Internet access. Federal law requires libraries receiving such funding to install filters (software which blocks access to Internet material containing visual depictions that are obscene, contain child pornography or are harmful to minors) on its Internet computers. Maryland law 23-506.1 requires that public libraries adopt and implement policies and procedures to prevent minors from access to obscene materials or child pornography.

What has to be filtered under The Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA)?

The law requires that a filter protect against access to material that is:

  • Obscene
  • Child Pornography
  • Harmful to Minors

What other Internet sites are filtered?

Internet sites which pose a threat to the library’s networks or computers are blocked, including:

  • Malware
  • Malicious Software and Actions
  • Phishing
  • Spyware

How do I request that a site be permanently unblocked if I think it has been blocked incorrectly?

Though designed to block access to sexually explicit material, in rare instances, the filtering software may block access to sites providing valid information on topics such as breast cancer or AIDS. To request that a site be permanently unblocked, contact us. List the address of the site you wish to have permanently unblocked, along with the reason, your name, and a way to get in touch with you.

If I accessed a site that I believe should be blocked, how do I request that it be blocked?

Contact us and list the address of the site you wish to have permanently blocked, along with the reason, your name, and a way to get in touch with you.

In addition, sites identified as hazardous to the computers, networks and services of the Library are blocked. Though designed to block access to sexually explicit material, in rare instances, the filtering software may block access to sites providing valid information on topics such as breast cancer or AIDS. For these cases, the customer may contact a staff member to submit a request to remove the block on the site.

Unlawful Use of Library Computers

The Library prohibits any unlawful use of the Internet by staff or users. Users who engage in unlawful use of the Internet on Library workstations and property or who harass other users may be prosecuted and may lose borrowing privileges.

The Library prohibits: attempts to download or make copies of unauthorized files, attempts to hack or crack Library or remote services, displays of website images which are pornographic or defined by Maryland State Law as obscene.

Privacy

Users of Library workstations are asked to use resources appropriately and respect the privacy of others using nearby workstations. To preserve user privacy, the Library will never share, sell, or rent individual personal information gathered by the Library, except for the purpose of recovering overdue items and fees or as ordered by subpoena from a valid court or legal authority.

The Library PC and print management system does not retain information on websites visited by customers. The Library reserves the right to limit workstation and printer usage at peak hours or to schedule workstation and printer use in order to accommodate the largest number of customers at specific agencies.

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woman doing online research at a Central Library table

Computer & Internet Access


Enjoy free access to computers and the internet at all Pratt Library locations.

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Public Computer Center at Central Library

Public Computer Center


The Central Library’s Public Computer Center has computers available for research, job searching, and more.