How Libraries Can Minimize the Liabilities of Their Public Computers

April 23, 2019

Libraries have evolved from public buildings filled with books and historical documents to modern buildings that offer up the latest tech for today’s youth. From videography workshops to public meetings, movie nights to classes on learning new technologies, libraries offer more to the community than ever before.

But one of the ways in which libraries are serving the public is causing some major liability issues: public computers. While creating a place where anyone can come in and use a computer is a great idea, it can cause some problems for the greater public as a whole. Adult content, dark websites, downloads, and shared data are all becoming more and more regular concerns for public buildings, like libraries, and is creating liabilities that were not seen in previous decades.

Here’s how libraries can combat those problems when it comes to public computers.

Monitoring Public Perceptions

Currently, there are no software-based restrictions on Internet usage in public libraries, as the law of the land states that any and all users of public computers have the right to access what they’d like. The argument is that Internet usage is protected under the First Amendment or freedom of speech. Libraries cannot monitor or control the content of material available through their computers but can encourage appropriate use in a public environment.

What libraries should be on the lookout for is the surrounding public’s thoughts of what’s being viewed around them. If someone felt that they were made to feel uncomfortable because someone was viewing adult content, they can make a claim that the library did not do it’s best to protect them. On the other hand, if the person viewing the controversial content felt that their First Amendment right was encroached on, they can also turn around and sue the public library.

This is a bad position for libraries to be in either way, but one step that can be taken is to invest in library insurance that provides a financial safety net. Library insurance can be wide-ranging and supply protection for libraries in the event of a claim.

Viruses and Data Security

Gaming has seen a major surge in recent years with Internet-connected games for people to play. But some of these games require downloads and those that don’t still require a connection to sites that may not be safe. With this in mind, it’s important to understand the severity of virus and data protection.

Libraries can install software that keeps their entire systems safe from viruses and issues that have to do with the overall integrity of their networks. One way this can also be taken care of is creating administrative, staff and patron accounts with patron accounts being able to prevent any public user from installing files that can cause harm.

When it comes to data security, libraries need to be aware of hacking that can occur. Personal data has been put in the software spotlight in recent years, especially with major data security issues popping up in everything from banks to hotels to tech companies. It’s important for libraries to have the latest software protection installed to keep the data of their users safe during open hours. Some types of data security options allow for wiping and restoring systems to clear out data that had been exchanged during that day, essentially rebooting everything the following morning.

About Regan Agency

A family-owned business, Long Island-based Regan Agency has more than 35 years of experience serving the insurance and risk management needs of Tri-State residents and businesses. We have earned the trust of our clients based on our integrity and commitment to offer individuals and businesses quality library insurance products at competitive prices backed by unparalleled responsive service. Just give one of our professionals a call at 631-669-3434.