Acceptable use of the internet and library public computers

Last revised 02.06.12, updated: 04.10.24 

The library's public computers allow users to search a variety of electronic resources. Library catalog computers are exclusively for searching the library's holdings and selected electronic databases. Internet computers provide information beyond the confines of the library's collection. Internet computers offer a full range of software for searching the internet, displaying files, and viewing multimedia content. Internet computers also provide access to word processing. No station provides support for all file types, browser plug-ins, or internet technologies.

Use all library computers in accordance with this policy and the Multnomah County Library rules. Copies of these policies are also available from a library service desk.

Access to internet resources

Multnomah County Library is committed to providing access to informational, educational, recreational and cultural resources for library users of all ages and backgrounds. Throughout its history, the Multnomah County Library has made information available in a variety of formats, from print materials to audiovisual materials. The library's computer system provides the opportunity to integrate electronic resources from information networks around the world with the library's other resources. The library strives to balance the rights of users to access information resources with the rights of users to work in a public environment free from sounds and images intended to harass other library users or library staff.

The library's goal in providing internet access is to enhance its existing collection in size and depth and, as a public access agency, to give anyone who wishes to use the internet the chance to do so.

Library staff continuously identifies and posts on the library's website specific starting points for searches that are appropriate to the library's mission and service roles. The KidsTeensStudents and Community resource lists pages have been provided to assist users in finding age- and topic-appropriate sites.

Library staff will help you use the computers to find the information you need. Library staff and volunteers also will help you learn to use search tools on the internet computers, although they cannot provide extensive one-on-one instruction. Ask at any reference desk for information about training offered through the library, or check events for a list of classes at your neighborhood library.

Internet filtering

The internet offers access to a wealth of material that is personally, professionally and culturally enriching to individuals of all ages. However, it also enables access to some material that may be offensive, disturbing, illegal, inaccurate or incomplete. Users are encouraged to evaluate the validity and appropriateness of information accessed via the internet.

Tests by the library and by independent agencies have shown that filtering software may help to block access to objectionable internet sites. However, the software cannot block out all objectionable sites, and it does sometimes block useful material, including sites that are suitable for children, teens and adults.

Public internet computers are equipped with commercial filtering software. The library's filtering policy upholds the principles of intellectual freedom, allowing adults to make their own choices regarding filtering. The policy also aims to ensure that our libraries are safe and welcoming places for children, and it affirms the right and responsibility of parents to make choices for their own children and teens.

  • Adults (18 years and older) may choose filtered or unfiltered searching at each login
  • Teens (13-17) have the choice of filtered or unfiltered internet access unless their parent or guardian designates filtered access.
  • Children (12 years and younger) have filtered internet access unless a parent or guardian designates they may choose between filtered and unfiltered access.

Parents may choose to override these default internet access options for their child. See Parent's Guide to Filters & the Internet.

See filtering rules for users of internet guest passes under Time and other limits below.

Children's computers

The children's areas throughout Multnomah County Library are designed to be welcoming for children. These areas include a limited number of computers, many of which offer resources especially for children. To best serve children, all computers in designated children's areas are for the use of children age 14 and younger and for adult caregivers accompanying or assisting children. Children's internet computers open to a special children's interface and allow only filtered use of the internet. 

Parents and children should read from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. ConnectSafely offers useful safety tips and advice for parents and teens.

Time and other limits

To access the internet a patron must use their own library card number. A visitor who does not have a library card may receive an internet guest pass at a service desk by providing photo identification or name and birthdate (without a photo identification, the guest pass will be for filtered access only). If your photo ID does not include a birthdate you must provide your birthdate for the guest pass registration. Visitors age 12 and younger need not show identification and will receive a guest pass for filtered access only. A library cardholder may not receive a guest pass, and no visitor may receive more than one guest pass per day.

Each person can access four one-hour sessions per day on library public computers. Each hour will automatically extend unless there is someone else waiting in the queue. Patrons must use their own library card number or guest pass number to sign up for a computer and log in.

The library's computers are set up for use by a single individual. A maximum of two persons may sit/work together at any one computer, except in special cases, such as computer labs and teen lounges or when a parent/guardian is with children.


The library takes a variety of measures to protect your privacy when you use library computers. See the Statement on privacy and confidentiality of library records.

Privacy screens are available for internet computers. However, these screens cannot prevent other library users from seeing what you are viewing. The library's computers are in a public area. Others may be involuntarily exposed to what you are viewing. The library asks that you remain sensitive to the fact that you are working in a public environment shared by people of all ages.


Illegal activities or activities that interfere with or disrupt the network, users, services or equipment are prohibited and not protected by the library's privacy policy. The library does not routinely monitor public computers, but reserves the right to do so when a violation of this policy or illegal activity is suspected. Staff is authorized to take immediate action to protect the security of computers and the network and to enforce the following rules. This includes confiscating any removable media, requiring a user to leave a computer or the premises, and contacting law enforcement authorities.

You are responsible for complying with copyright law, licensing agreements and the policies of individual websites that you view.

Notice: Warning of Copyright Restrictions

Using library computers to copy and distribute copyright protected works may be an infringement of the copyright law (Title 17 U.S. Code).The library reserves the right to delete or disable any post or link on a library-hosted service that, in the judgment of library staff, violates copyright law. In accordance with 17 USC S 512 (i)(1)(A), the library may terminate a patron’s access to the system or network for disrespect of the intellectual property rights of others, or for repeat infringements of copyright. The library has adopted this policy and will make all reasonable effort to enforce it in appropriate circumstances.

Software and other files downloaded from the internet may contain viruses or spyware that may infect other computers.

Rules governing use of library computers

Failure to comply with the following rules may result in loss of computer privileges, loss of library privileges and prosecution.

At each log-in, library computer users must complete a click-through agreement acknowledging these rules and must agree to follow the rules.

  1. Sign up for an internet computer before using it; log on using your own library card or guest pass number and promptly give up the computer when your time has elapsed.
  2. Promptly give up the computer when requested by staff.
  3. You may download files using supported media. The library is not responsible for damage to your media or for corruption of your data, including damage caused by mechanical malfunction or corruption caused by virus or spyware infection while using library computers. Do not attempt to run or execute programs or applications from personal storage media.
  4. Printing is free of charge with a print limit of 100 pages per day.
  5. Respect other's privacy by not attempting to observe or comment on what others are viewing. Remain sensitive to the fact that you are working in a public environment shared by people of all ages. Some locations require use of privacy screens by all users. In other locations, privacy screen use may be required at the discretion of the Person in Charge. Use a privacy screen if you are asked to do so.
  6. Patrons may "lock" an internet Station by pressing Windows key + L or  ctrl+alt+del and selecting "lock computer." Doing so allows a patron to leave a computer unattended without having their privacy compromised. To unlock the computer, the patron must re-enter their library card number and password.
  7. Stop viewing any site that creates a hostile environment for other library users and staff if a staff member asks you to stop, and do not view similar sites when others are present.
  8. Use headphones when listening to audio content, and keep volume low so you do not disturb others.
  9. As a courtesy to others, log off completely when you are finished with your session. This also protects the privacy of your search. To do this, double-click the Sign Out (Restart PC) icon on the desktop or press ctrl+alt+del, then click on Sign out. 
  10. Do not gather around computers when doing so may obstruct others or create noise that distracts others.
  11. Whether or not they are in use, children's computers in all locations are for the exclusive use of children and their accompanying caregivers.
  12. Do not use another's identification, bar code or password, with or without permission, to sign up or log on to a computer.
  13. Do not misuse computer equipment or software.

Misuse includes but is not limited to:

  • Viewing material that violates federal, state or local laws or regulations, including those regarding accessing, viewing, printing and distributing obscenity or child pornography
  • Mishandling, damaging or attempting to damage computer equipment or software; tampering with computer settings
  • Interfering with system operations, integrity or security
  • Attempting to gain or gaining unauthorized access to another person's information
  • Engaging in any activity that is deliberately offensive or creates an intimidating or hostile environment
  • Violating copyright laws and software licensing agreements or the policies of the individual websites that you view
  • Refusing or ignoring a staff person's request to give up a computer
  • Failing to log in using your own library card number or guest card number
  • Failing to comply with time limits
  • Any other violation of the Acceptable use of the internet and library public computers policy