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Library board approves policies

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Library board members

Library board members Ryan Fiala, Amanda Moenning, Becky Pence and Linda McClain, board president, share a light-hearted moment before the recent meeting.

When you go to Fremont’s library, staff can help you find a website or a computer program, but they can’t type your personal information into anything for you.

That’s part of a new policy intended to protect patron privacy and help the library avoid possible liability.

Members of the Keene Memorial Library’s advisory committee talked about this and another policy regarding public wireless internet usage during their recent meeting. Other libraries have these types of policies and committee members approved both of them.

Laura England-Biggs, library director, told board members that some patrons have wanted staff to fill out forms for them.

Board member Ryan Fiala asked if this was an unusual circumstance. England-Biggs said this happens about 20% of the time.

Now, the Staff Support to Patrons Policy outlines how far an employee can go when helping a patron with information or research.

“They should not be entering people’s personally identifiable information into job applications, credit card applications, etcetera, to limit the liability for the library and to protect the patron’s privacy,” England Biggs said.

Library staff can help patrons find data and use technology, but library users must type in their own information.

That way, for example, patrons can’t say didn’t get a job, because a library staffer incorrectly entered their data.

Library staff can’t type documents or format items such as flyers, invitations or business material either.

The policy states that library staff can’t offer advice about medical, legal, tax or other professional services. They may only help patrons find information about these services and can’t recommend a specific service provider.

Patrons shouldn’t share personal, private or financial information with staffers, other than to pay fees owed to the library.

Library staff can’t physically handle a patron’s personal technology device, such as a cell phone. That way, for example, a patron can’t say a staffer broke their phone. Staffers can tell patrons how to find an app on a phone, but the device owners must physically do the task themselves.

Board chairman Linda McClain asked about people with disabilities.

England-Biggs said if individuals have a disability, they can bring someone with them to perform the task.

Members also talked about the library’s wireless internet (WiFi) networks.

The library staff’s WiFi is on one network, which is secure. Patrons’ information on the library network is secure.

Yet like other businesses, the library also offers free public WiFi.

This WiFi is filtered to comply with the Children’s Internet Protection Act.

“But it is not a secured WiFi and, therefore, you should not do a lot of personal finance using the WiFi,” England-Biggs said.

That’s because, in theory, someone with certain software could hack a patron’s device and obtain their data.

“We need to make folks aware of the fact that there are limits to what our security can and cannot do,” England-Biggs said.

McClain compared the library’s public WiFi to that found in a coffee shop. People shouldn’t be checking their investment accounts at the shop, because someone could be tapping into it.

England-Biggs said the policy basically tells patrons to use the public WiFi at their own risk and to be careful.

All wireless access users also are responsible for their own virus protection on their devices.

The policy also provides examples of acceptable and unacceptable uses of the library’s public WiFi. For instance, library patrons are not to use it for gambling or pornographic purposes.

In other business, England-Biggs said Tracy Parr, senior office associate, and she secured three locations for storage for materials in anticipation of the library’s temporary move into Fremont City Auditorium.

England-Biggs expressed gratitude to the Fremont Parks and Recreation Department, which is letting the library use a house and garage next to the auditorium for storage, along with an area behind the stage inside the auditorium.

She said parks department personnel are rearranging their storage in the stage area and also cleaning out the house and garage, which she said is a big help.

“They are being such great partners,” England-Biggs said. “I can’t say enough.”

England-Biggs said Parr was able to secure a third location in a storage unit for a reasonable price.

The library, which will undergo remodeling and expansion, will relocate to the auditorium this summer.

Friends of Keene Memorial Library, a nonprofit group, has been raising funds for the $9.4 million expansion and remodeling project.

England-Biggs also said Dave’s Drive-In Liquor, which sells books to raise funds for Friends group, raised more than $800 this month. These funds are used for programs and services at the library.

The library director also provided board members with a rough draft of the Community Needs Response Plan.

McLain asked board members to look at the draft and provide any thoughts to England-Biggs.

England-Biggs plans to submit a completed plan to the Nebraska Library Commission in September, because it’s due Oct. 1. The state’s library commission requires accredited libraries to have a current plan to stay accredited and receive state aid.

The next library board meeting will start at 6:30 p.m. July 18 in the city council chambers in the Fremont City Municipal Building, 400 E. Military Ave. Meetings are open to the public.


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News Editor

Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She covers news, features, religion stories and writes the weekly faith-based, Spiritual Spinach column.

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