Internet Policy

This policy applies to all users of Houston Public Library computers or networks. In agreement with CIPA Regulations, all Library public access workstations use filtering software to access the Internet. Adults 18 or older who need unfiltered access for any lawful purpose may request it from a staff member. Unfiltered access will be granted on a per-search basis.


To fulfill our mission, Houston Public Library provides access to a broad range of information resources, including those available through the Internet. We make this service available as part of our mission to be the community’s place for learning, fun and adventure, access to innovative technology, creative solutions to information needs, and service excellence empowering personal and professional growth.

The Library only assumes responsibility for the information provided on the home page and the supporting web pages resident on this server. Houston Public Library has no control over the information accessed through the Internet, other than the content provided on the Library’s web site. Internet resources offer links to many valuable local, national, and international sources of information. However, not all sources on the Internet provide accurate, complete, or current information. A good information consumer evaluates the validity of all information found. 

Supervision of a child's access to the Internet is ultimately the responsibility of the parent or guardian; the Library does not have the right or responsibility to act in loco parentis (on behalf of the parent/guardian). However, in accordance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA ~ Public Law 106-554), the Library does filter Internet access for both minors (persons under the age of 18) and adults to certain visual depictions that are (1) obscene (as defined in section 1460 of title 18, United States Code), or (2) child pornography (as defined in section 2256 of title 18, United States Code), or, with respect to use of computers with Internet access by minors, and (3) harmful to minors. Furthermore, all customers must abide by §43.22 and §43.24 of the Texas Penal Code, which prohibits the intentional or knowing display of such materials, while being reckless about whether a person, and especially a minor, is present who will be offended or alarmed by the display.

Responsibilities of Users

Rules Governing Use

Software has been loaded on most public access computers to provide internet usage in one hour session increments. This software requires the user to log on to the computer using a bar code, either from their own Houston Public Library Card or a Computer Use Only Card supplied by the Library. There is no limit to the number of sessions per day allowed to a customer.

Computer users must respect the established time limit and honor any staff request to end their session.

Users may not

  • Circumvent filtering or blocking software, or other security measures to access visual depictions deemed (a) obscene, or (b) child pornography, or (c) harmful to minors, as defined in the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA ~ Public Law 106-554).
  • Circumvent public access computer time management software, or procedures.
  • Use the workstations or laptop devices to gain access to the Library's networks or computer systems or to any other network or computer system.
  • Obstruct other people's work by consuming large amounts of system resources or by deliberately crashing any Library computer system.
  • Attempt to damage computer equipment or software.
  • Attempt to alter software configurations.
  • Attempt to cause degradation of system performance.
  • Use any Library workstation for any illegal or criminal purpose.
  • Violate copyright laws or software licensing agreements in their use of Library workstations.
  • Engage in any activity that is deliberately and maliciously offensive, libelous, or slanderous.
  • Install or download any software.

Violations may result in loss of access. Staff is empowered to terminate or extend a user session if appropriate. Unlawful activities will be dealt with in an appropriate manner, including notification of law enforcement authorities.

Guidelines for Social Media Comments

Supervising Children’s Use

It is the Library's policy that parents or legal guardians must assume responsibility for deciding what resources (e.g., online catalog, web site search engine, subscription databases and electronic books, journals or articles) are appropriate for their children. There will be some resources that parents may feel are inappropriate for their children. Parents should let their children know if there are materials that they do not want them to use. Parents should supervise their child's Internet sessions. 

In agreement with CIPA regulations, all Library public-access workstations use filtering software to access the Internet. No filtering software can control access to all materials that an individual may deem inappropriate. Houston Public Library does not guarantee the total effectiveness of technological protection measures such as filtering software. 

Information on teaching children and teens to avoid the dangers that exist on the Internet can be found at NetSmartz.
This site is sponsored by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Choosing and Evaluating Sources

The Internet is a global entity with a highly diverse user population and information content. Library customers use it at their own risk. The Library cannot protect users from materials they may find offensive. In choosing sources to link to our home page, we follow generally accepted library practices. Beyond this, we do not accept responsibility for content found in an Internet source. We are not responsible for changes in content of the sources to which we link, nor for the content of sources accessed through secondary links. As with printed information, not all sources on the Internet provide accurate, complete, or current information. Users should evaluate Internet sources just as they do printed publications, questioning the validity of the information provided.

Internet Functions Supported

The Library provides graphical browsers at all locations. The Library does not provide electronic mail accounts, Internet Relay Chat, or Newsgroups. 

Printing and downloading are available at all sites, although these services may not be available from all workstations.


U.S. copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code) prohibits the unauthorized reproduction or distribution of copyrighted materials, except as permitted by the principles of "fair use". Users may not copy or distribute electronic materials (including electronic mail, text, images, programs or data) without the explicit permission of the copyright holder. Any responsibility for any consequences of copyright infringement lies with the user; the Library expressly disclaims any liability or responsibility resulting from such use. 

The Library expressly disclaims any liability or responsibility arising from access to or use of information obtained through its electronic information systems, or any consequences thereof.

Web site Comment Form

In accordance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA ~ Public Law 106-554), Houston Public Library does filter Internet access to certain visual depictions that are 1) obscene, or 2) child pornography, or 3) harmful to minors.

If you were unable to access a Web site and you do not believe the content of that Web site falls into the above-mentioned categories, or if you were able to access a web site that you feel does fall into one of the above-mentioned categories, please download the form so that our filtering software company may review the site in question.