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Library News Release

Release Date: 01/18/2002

The Seattle Public Library implements Unattended Children Policy

The Seattle Public Library board of trustees has implemented a policy to help promote the safety of all children using library facilities.

The new "Unattended Children Policy," modeled after policies used by libraries nationwide, asks parents or caregivers to remain with their children while they are using the library.

"We encourage children and families to use the Library's many resources and services," said Chance Hunt, coordinator of children's services. "However, when children are left unattended, problems can arise. Young children may become frightened or confused and wander away."

He added that because libraries are public buildings, strangers might approach children. "Leaving a child alone at a library is no different than leaving a child at a shopping mall," Hunt said. "Our goal is to help children to become lifelong library users and readers. We want to make sure their visits are as happy and productive as possible."

The board's policy affirms that the library staff does not take the place of the parent, act as caregiver or baby-sitter, or assume responsibility for an unattended child.

The policy also provides guidelines for staff when dealing with unattended children, so that there is consistency at each location.

"Right now we are trying to educate parents and caregivers about the policy, so that they understand what the Library's role is, its practical capabilities and the Library's expectations of children and parents," he said.

Library staff members are asked to notify a parent or caregiver when:

  • A child is frightened or anxious while alone at a Library;
  • A child's health or safety may be in danger;
  • A child's behavior disturbs other users of the library; or
  • A child has not been met by a parent or responsible caregiver at closing time.

For more information contact:

Andra Addison, communications director

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