Unattended Children Policy

Updated Sept. 9, 2013

The District of Columbia Public Library is dedicated to providing a welcoming environment that encourages children to visit the library, attend programs, and use the library collections and computers. Library staff is available to assist and support children in using the Library. Library children’s areas are reserved for children, their parents, guardians, teachers, and caregivers, and people accessing children’s books and other library materials.

The library encourages frequent visits by children and their families. However, library staff cannot provide child care or assume responsibility for children’s safety.  Parents, guardians, teachers and caregivers, not library staff, are responsible for the behavior and safety of children visiting the library.  Staff cannot be placed in a position of supervising unattended children.

Situations of unattended children in the Library are guided as follows:

  • Children, like all library users, are required to respect library property and act in a manner appropriate to the use and function of the library. Children are expected to comply with the Library’s Rules of Behavior.
  • Children eight (8) years of age and younger shall, at all times, be attended and directly supervised by a parent/guardian or assigned chaperone age thirteen (13) or older. If children eight (8) years of age and younger are left unattended, staff will attempt to reach their parents/guardian. If they cannot be reached, proper authorities will be contacted.
  • Children nine (9) years of age and older may use the library unattended providing they are able to follow library rules and observe proper conduct.
  • Children of any age with mental, physical or emotional disabilities that affect decision-making skills or render supervision necessary must be accompanied by a parent/guardian or assigned chaperone at all times.
  • Any minor child, ten (10) years of age or younger, left at the library without transportation at closing time will be referred to the police. Under no circumstances will library staff transport or take a minor away from the library building.
  • The library is not responsible for children outside the library building and/or on library premises socializing or awaiting transportation.
  • As per D.C. Official Code §32-221, “no owner or employee of a business establishment shall permit a minor under the age of 16, having reasonable grounds to believe that such minor is a truant or unlawfully absent from school, to loiter on the premises of such business establishment during those hours when school is in session.”