Category: Policies

Internet Services Policy


Freedom of access to information is a responsibility. The Internet enables the Library to provide access to a wealth of resources available outside of the physical collection to individuals of all ages. However, the Internet also enables access to some materials that may be considered offensive and/or illegal. The library does not support access to these types of materials and requires users to comply with the laws that govern internet use.

Guidelines for acceptable use of Internet resources include the following:

  1. Use resources for educational, informational and recreational purposes only; and not for unauthorized, illegal or unethical purposes.
  2. Respect the privacy of others by not misrepresenting oneself as another user; by not attempting to modify or gain access to files, passwords, or data belonging to others; by not seeking unauthorized access to any computer system, or damaging or altering software components of any network or database.
  3. Do not send, receive, or display text or graphics that may be construed as obscene or that may be harmful to minors, as defined by Federal and State statute.


Unacceptable use of the Library’s Internet access will result in discipline ranging from:

  1. A verbal warning up to denial of computer privileges, determined by the Library Director.
  2. Exposing a child to sexually explicit conduct is a violation of Wisconsin State Statute § 948.055 and is punishable by a fine of up to $25,000 or imprisonment of up to 12 years, or both.
  3. When deemed appropriate by the Library Director, reports shall be forwarded to the Manitowoc Police Department or other appropriate law enforcement agency.

Policies & Procedures: Reconsideration of Challenged Materials

Materials in the Library’s collection are selected under the guidelines established in the Library’s “Collection Development Policy” which states that the Library Director is responsible for the selection of library materials and, under his/her direction, this responsibility may be delegated to staff who are qualified for this activity by reason of education, training, and experience.

The term “materials,” as used in this policy, includes books, periodicals, pamphlets, pictures, photographs, audio recordings, films, video tapes, DVDs, software, databases, microforms, posters, displays, educational toys, and any other form or format in which information and ideas may be conveyed, either existing or as may be developed.

The Library recognizes that there will from time to time be citizen complaints or concerns about a specific title or type of material selected for or deselected (weeded) from the collection. When a complaint is made, the Library must ensure that the complaint is handled seriously and, equally important, that the fundamental principles of intellectual freedom are upheld. This policy provides the systematic approach to be followed.

Steps in the Request for Reconsideration procedure, detailed below, must be followed (in the order elaborated) by citizens when challenging materials, and by the Library staff, Director, and Board of Trustees when reconsidering challenged materials and rendering a decision about these materials. If citizens do not follow steps in the order elaborated, their complaint will not be considered further by Library staff, Director, or Board of Trustees.

The procedure detailed below addresses challenges to materials where the goal is to remove the material from the Library’s collection or to otherwise limit access to the material. Although not specifically addressed, the same procedures apply to challenges in which the goal is to add the material to the Library’s collection or to limit the Library’s ability to weed the collection. In other words, this policy and its procedures apply to any and all challenges to the Library’s collection.

  1. Initiation of Requests for Reconsideration. Individuals or groups may initiate complaints about specific titles or types of materials in the Library’s collection by putting a comment in the suggestion box, or talking to or writing to any member of the staff, the Director, or a member of the Board of Trustees. At this point, such communications are considered informal complaints. The appropriate response to an informal complaint is for the staff, Director, or Board member to offer the complainant a Request for Reconsideration Form (appended to this policy). In addition, the rationale for having a formal complain procedure should be explained. No further action is to be taken by staff, the Director, or a member of the Board of Trustees unless and until a Request for Reconsideration is made in writing on the appropriate form and the completed form is returned to the Library Director. Additionally, no further action can be taken unless and until the complainant returns the challenged material, if it is checked out to the complainant.
  2. Acknowledgement of Receipt of Request for Reconsideration. Once a complaint is received in writing on the Request for Reconsideration form, it is acknowledged promptly by the Public Services Coordinator or the Library Director. The complainant is written a letter which describes the Library’s procedure and the time it will take to reconsider the material thoroughly. Copies of this policy and the Library’s “Collection Development Policy” are sent to the complainant as enclosures to the letter.
  3. Inquiries about Specific Requests for Reconsideration. From time to time, complainants, other members of the public, the press, etc., may have questions concerning the status of a specific Request for Reconsideration. Questions should be addressed to the Public Services Coordinator or the Library Director.
  4. Board Notification. The Library Board shall be notified by the Library Director in a timely fashion that a formal complaint has been made. Usually such notification will be done through the monthly Director’s Report.
  5. Staff Evaluation of Challenged Material. The Library Director appoints a committee of professional staff members to evaluate the challenged material. Usually, this committee is made up of two to three Librarians and/or Department Heads and is chaired by the Public Services Coordinator.Members of the committee weigh several factors when reconsidering challenged materials: they read, listen to, or view the material in its entirety; they also look at the material in relationship to the Library’s “Collection Development Policy” and to the rest of the collection; in addition they look at what literary critics and reviewers think of the material. After coming to individual conclusions, the committee meets to discuss the challenged material.

    The committee recommends one of several actions to the Library Director: to retain the challenged material in the collection; to retain the challenged material but to move it to another location in the collection; to withdraw the challenged material.

    The Library Director then evaluates the challenged material, weighing the factors listed above, and considers the committee’s recommendation. If the Library Director does not concur with the committee, he refers the matter back to the committee. If the Library Director concurs with the committee, he writes a letter to the complainant which states his decision and the reasoning behind the decision. This letter also outlines the steps the complainant must take to bring the matter to the attention of the Library Board of Trustees, if the complainant remains unsatisfied.

    This step takes some time, usually a minimum of six to eight weeks. Until the director’s decision is rendered, the challenged material is not available for use by other patrons to allow staff time to evaluate it.

  6. Reconsideration by the Board. If still not satisfied, the complainant may choose to bring the matter to the attention of the Manitowoc Public Library Board of Trustees.This action may be taken only after receiving a written decision from the Library Director. To initiate Board consideration, the complainant should write to the Library Director or President of the Board and request that the matter be placed on the agenda of the next regular meeting. The letter must be received at least ten (10) days prior to the next regular meeting of the Board. If received after that time, the matter will be deferred automatically until the succeeding regular meeting. The Library Director or Board President shall acknowledge receipt of the letter from the complainant in writing, and shall include in the acknowledgement the schedule of Board meetings at which the matter will be considered.

    Once the Request for Reconsideration is on the agenda, the Board shall decide by a majority vote of the members present whether it wishes to consider further the Request for Reconsideration.

    If the Board votes to consider the matter further, an ad hoc review panel is selected to evaluate the challenged material, a public hearing date is set, and the matter is placed on the agenda for the next regular meeting of the Board. If the challenged material is lengthy, the matter may be postponed one regular meeting. The challenged material is recalled from circulation and is not available for use by other patrons to allow members of the ad hoc committee time to evaluate it.

    If the Board does not vote to consider the request further, the matter is ended.

  7. Ad Hoc Review Panel. The ad hoc review panel is selected by random drawing of three names from the Library Board roster. Members of this panel weigh several factors when reconsidering challenged materials: they read, listen to, or view the material in its entirety; they look at the material in relationship to the Library’s “Collection Development Policy” and to the rest of the collection; in addition, they look at what literary critics and reviewers think of the material.After coming to individual conclusions about the challenged material, each member of the panel completes a Board Evaluation of Challenged Material Form (appended to this policy). Each recommends one of several actions to the Library Board of Trustees: to retain the challenged material in the collection; to retain the challenged material but to move it to another location in the collection; to withdraw the challenged material. These recommendations are made with reference to the fundamental principles of intellectual freedom.

    The panel’s completed Board Evaluation of Challenged Material Forms will be included in the packet for the meeting at which the final decision on the material will be made. They must be returned to the Library Director no later than ten (10) days prior to the meeting date.

  8. Public Hearing. The public hearing on the Request for Reconsideration may be held as part of a regular Board meeting or may be held as a special meeting set for that purpose only. The Board shall decide this as part of its decision in step number 6 (above). In addition to noticing the public hearing, the Library Director will issue a news release to inform citizens of the date, time and nature of the public hearing.The President of the Library Board of Trustees shall chair the public hearing. In the President’s absence, the Vice-President will assume the responsibility. After calling the meeting to order, the Chair should review the procedures to be followed at the meeting, and the process followed up to this point for reconsideration of the material. The Library Board should announce at the beginning of the hearing that it will issue its decision at the next regularly scheduled meeting, and that the hearing is simply to hear all sides of the issue.

    Citizens wishing to make comments shall sign in and register on which side they will be speaking. Speakers should be allowed to speak in the order they signed in. The President of the Board shall decide whether to set time limits. If these are set, a timekeeper shall be appointed and each speaker shall be limited to a specific amount of time, e.g., three or four minutes. No participant shall be allowed to speak a second time until everyone registered has been heard once.

    Seating will be provided for the public at the hearing. Speakers and other members of the public shall sit and speak from an area designated for that purpose. Members of the press are required to remain in the public seating area throughout the hearing.

  9. Board’s Decision on Challenged Material. Having voted to consider the matter further in step number 6 (above) and having placed the matter on the agenda, final action on the disposition of the challenged material is taken at the next regular meeting of the Board (unless the challenged material is lengthy, in which case the matter may be postponed one regular meeting). The Board’s final decision is announced publicly at this meeting. A vote in favor of at least six members of the Board (a majority vote of the full Board) shall be required to remove materials from the Library’s collection, to move materials from one collection to another, or to otherwise restrict access to materials.Whatever the board’s decision, the principles of the Library Bill of Rights should be reiterated and how the decision is in accordance with those principles should be explained. A very brief statement of the reason for the decision should also be made; e.g., “We have concluded that the material meets our selection criteria, and will be retained without restriction.”
  10. Forms Appended:

Using Public Spaces: Petitions & Solicitations


The Manitowoc Public Library Board of Trustees seeks to balance the constitutional rights of citizens and organizations with the rights of the library customers and staff when using public space.

Petitioning, soliciting and distributing literature is permitted in the Manitowoc Public Library entry ways, under the guidelines listed below.

  1. Such activities cannot block, hinder, intimidate or interfere with patrons or staff accessing the library entrances or services.
  2. No leafleting, distribution of literature or solicitation for commercial or fundraising purposes is permitted.


  1. Anyone wishing to solicit signatures for a petition or leaflet must inform the Library Administrative office during normal business hours (9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday) or their desire and intent to solicit signatures for a petition at least 48 hours in advance.
  2. Library administration shall designate and limit the space for the petitioner by including one table and two chairs.
  3. Library administration may limit number of occurrences for petitioner in a specific time period.
  4. A single sign with no images limited to 8 1/2 x 11 inches is permitted.

Any person who does not abide by the conditions stated above or creates a nuisance such that the regular business of the Library is disrupted shall be required to immediately cease all activities relating to solicitation for a petition or leafleting and to leave the Library premises immediately.

Using Public Spaces: Public Posting Policy


The Library provides space for the display of brochures, magazines, and similar materials which advertise community information. Space is also provided for posters advertising events sponsored by non-profit organizations. Brochures and other printed materials advertising for-profit services will not be accepted.

  1. Space is provided based on availability and is at the discretion of the Library.
  2. Space for these items is provided on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use. Materials shall not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation; nor shall they be removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
  3. Although space is provided, the Library does not claim to endorse the viewpoints in displayed materials.


All brochures, posters, magazines, and similar materials must be submitted to the Library’s Office of Outreach and Development for approval. Items submitted to the Library will not be returned after display.

Using Public Spaces: Requests for Accomodation & Complaints About Accessibility

The Manitowoc Public Library seeks to make its services, facilities, and programs as accessible as possible to the public, including those who have disabilities. The following procedure has been developed in order to assist the library in addressing concerns about accessibility.

People who wish to request accommodation and/or complaints about accessibility at the Manitowoc Public Library have access to a three step procedure:

  1. Requests for accommodation and/or complaints about accessibility can be presented in person or over the phone. These should be addressed to the Library’s ADA Coordinator who then makes every attempt to resolve the issue without further recourse to this procedure.
  2. If resolution is not achieved by Step One, a complain can be presented in writing on an Accessibility Concerns Form. Assistance in completing this form is provided, as needed. Completed forms are reviewed by the Library Director; a formal response is made to the library user within ten working days of the date of original submission of the form. The formal response can be a telephone call, followed by a letter confirming the telephone discussion, or directly by letter (non-print formats provided as needed). The Library Director will make every attempt to resolve the issue through this means.
  3. If resolution is not achieved by Step Two, the concerned individual can request that the complaint be presented to the Library Board. The Library Director will place the matter on the agenda so that the concerned individual can present his or her concern at the next regularly scheduled Library Board meeting. The decision of the Library Board is final for the Library. If resolution is still not achieved, the concerned individual may wish to pursue other courses of action as described in the Americans with Disabilities Act and related regulations.

Using the Library: Information Services Policy

This policy is intended to provide guidelines so that information services can be delivered and maximized based on available resources. Library staff treats all questions with respect. Appropriate assistance is provided courteously and impartially to all, regardless of age, background, disability, origin or views.

  1. Reference Services
    Staff uses information based on accurate and authoritative print or online sources, or learned from a reliable authority. The source for an answer will be provided. Each query is treated differently. Some questions may be answered quickly and others may require the patron’s participation in the information search, with staff providing guidance and advice. Due to the specialized nature of some reference questions, staff is limited in the amount of service they are able to provide on the following topics:

    1. Antiques, Art Work and Collectibles: Staff will not appraise or evaluate antiques, art and/or collectibles.
    2. Medical and Legal Questions: Staff will not give legal or medical advice or interpretation.
    3. Mathematical and Technical Calculations: Staff will provide formulas or equations needed to do a computation if found from an authoritative source.
    4. Genealogy: Staff will show customers where different types of materials are located, how basic reference tools are used, and how to use equipment. Beginners interested in learning about genealogy research will be referred to introductory books on researching family history in the circulating collection and to the Manitowoc History Collection. Patrons requiring lengthy and intensive research and those individuals not able to visit the Library may be charged a fee ($40 per hour) or referred to a local historian/genealogist.
    5. Tax Information: Staff will not give tax advice. Patrons will be referred to the volunteer tax assistance programs or the IRS.
    6. School Assignments: Staff will assist patrons in finding resources to complete assignments, but staff members do not help in completing the actual assignments.
    7. Patent/Copyright: Patrons are directed to books on copyright and patent procedures. Patent searches are not provided.
    8. Computer Assistance: Staff will provide limited assistance to customers using the library computers. Those customers who need more in-depth instruction are encouraged to attend the appropriate training class offered by the Library or to consult instructional materials owned by the Library.
  2. Interlibrary Loan Services
    1. Patrons’ requests for materials not owned by Manitowoc-Calumet Library System libraries are accepted and submitted as interlibrary loan requests. Interlibrary loan requests are filled through a Wisconsin network of libraries.
    2. Requests for material not availabel through the Wisconsin network of lenders might not be filled.
    3. Decision on whether to interlibrary loan materials rests with the Library staff.
    4. Requests may be limited by staff resources. Some material may not be available.
    5. Lost/damaged material fees may be charged to the patron.
  3. Liability
    1. The Manitowoc Public Library does not guarantee the accuracy of information contained in any materials owned or obtained by the Library.
    2. The Manitowoc Public Library is not liable for any consequences or damages the user of materials owned or obtained by the Library may suffer based on actions taken or decisions made using information from the Library.
  4. Confidentiality
    1. All reference questions are confidential.
    2. The nature of reference questions asked and the identity of the patron shall not be divulged to any agency outside without a properly executed order from a court of law.

Using the Library: Library Card Policy


Borrowing privileges are extended to any resident of the City of Manitowoc and other residents within the library system boundaries


  1. Library card holds are entitled to borrow any item in the library’s circulating collection and to use other services provided by the library. In the case of specialized borrower’s cards, some restrictions apply.
  2. If a library card is lost, it must be reported to library staff so that the lost card may be invalidated. The cardholder will be responsible for any use of the card prior to it being reported lost. Parents or legal guardians are responsible for material checked out on their children’s card.
  3. If a cardholder has incurred fines above the given limit, the cardholder cannot use library services until the fines are paid.
  4. Patrons may also sign a library consent form, which authorizes others to do business on the cardholder’s behalf.
  5. The library cannot place limits on what children check out or on internet usage. Parents are responsible for monitoring their child’s library activities.
  6. Manitowoc Public Library card privileges must be renewed every two years. Cards can only be renewed when all fines and fees are paid.

Approved by Board of Trustees – October 28, 2013