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Policy 36: Acceptable Use of MU Libraries’ Computers Regarding Sensitive Materials

University of Missouri Libraries

General Policy Manual Policy No. 36

Acceptable Use of MU Libraries’ Computers Regarding Sensitive Materials

  • Scope of Policy
    • This policy applies to all patrons and employees of the MU Libraries. It is not the intent of the MU Libraries to define materials as ‘obscene,’ ‘pornographic,’ ‘hostile,’ etc. Instead, this policy serves to provide library employees with guidelines for responding to situations, as needed, in which sensitive materials are accessed via MU Libraries’ computers and related equipment.
  • Definition
    • The MU Libraries’ computers and related equipment are available for research purposes for MU Faculty, Students and Staff and for community borrowers and guest patrons to use as appropriate. The MU Libraries recognizes that on-line access to sensitive materials, e.g., pornography, hate groups, etc., in publicly accessible areas is an issue requiring the Libraries to balance its commitment to freedom of information, accessibility to information, support of research endeavors, etc., with its responsibility to library patrons and employees who may observe or be compelled to observe such material.
    • The MU Libraries respects the freedom of all users of the Libraries to pursue lifelong learning and the confidentiality of the use of library resources in all formats.
  • Guidelines
    • The accessing and viewing of illegal materials is never a permissible use of MU Libraries’ computers and related equipment. As one example, the accessing and viewing of child pornography is a state and federal crime and at no time, under any circumstances is it permissible to view on a MU Libraries computer (See Appendix A). Individuals viewing illegal materials will be instructed to shut down the site. In cases of non-compliance, contact the appropriate security personnel and notify your supervisor as soon as possible.
    • University employees are subject to the ‘Acceptable Use Policy’ of the University of Missouri. See Appendix B.
    • In response to concerns or complaints expressed by patrons or library employees about viewing or being compelled to view sensitive, but not illegal materials, the MU Libraries and its employees will seek to address the situation through one or more of the following strategies:
      • Help the individual accessing the materials to understand the impact on those around him/her.
      • Invite the individual accessing the materials to relocate to another computer (e.g., laptops which can be checked out at Ellis Library Reserve Desk).
      • Invite other patrons to relocate to other computers.
      • Remind other patrons of the Libraries’ commitment to accessibility to information.
    • Each situation will be addressed on an individual basis and other strategies may need to be employed. Library employees are entrusted to use their best judgment. Similarly, they are encouraged to seek assistance from co-workers, their division head and library Administration as needed.
    • When, in the opinion of a library employee, it appears a patron is accessing sensitive materials in order to create a disturbance, to harass, threaten or intimidate, or to cause the employee to be concerned for his/her personal safety, contact the appropriate security personnel and notify your supervisor as soon as possible.
  • Appendix A
    • Missouri Revised Statutes, Chapter 573, ‘Pornography and Related Offenses,’ Section 573.025 Promoting Child Pornography in the First Degree (573.025.)
      • A person commits the crime of promoting child pornography in the first degree if, knowing of its content and character, such person possesses with the intent to promote or promotes obscene material that has a child as one of its participants or portrays what appears to be a child as a participant or observer of sexual conduct.
      • Promoting child pornography in the first degree is a class B felony unless the person knowingly promotes such material to a minor, in which case it is a class A felony.
      • Nothing in this section shall be construed to require a provider of electronic communication services or remote computing services to monitor any user, subscriber or customer of the provider, or the content of any communication of any user, subscriber or customer of the provider.
      • (L. 1985 H.B. 366, et al., A.L. 2000 S.B. 757 & 602) The headnotes, footnotes, annotations and index of the Missouri Revised Statutes, are used by permission of the Joint Committee on Legislative Research, the copyright holder.
  • Appendix B
    • The Division of Information Technology Acceptable Use Policy (
    • University of Missouri Acceptable Use Policy
      • The following policies for acceptable use of information technology come from the University of Missouri Collected Rules and Regulations; the Curators of the University of Missouri approved the following policy in September of 2000. Division of Information Technology publications such as the Student Everything Guide and the Faculty/Staff Everything Guide display this Acceptable Use Policy. The AUP also appears whenever one activates or updates an MU username or password via the Password Manager.
      • See 200.010 Standard of Conduct, Part 7.
      • MU prohibits use of resources:
        • For any illegal activity, forgery, harassment, intimidation, willful misrepresentation, defamation or unauthorized copying of anything.
        • For plagiarism, cheating or any other activities contrary to University of Missouri Rules and Regulations.
        • For commercial profit not approved by Business Services.
        • For wasteful activities, chain letters, unapproved mass email.
        • For unauthorized publication of obscene, pornographic or indecent materials.
        • For activities that place people or equipment at needless physical risk (including exposed electrical connections, harmful radiation, or food or drink in a public computing site).
        • For exploitation of a discussion, distribution list, or database outside its chartered purpose, as defined and policed by its owner.
      • The Acceptable Use Policy further states the penalty for misuse:
        • Enforcement of Acceptable Use Policy: Violation of the Acceptable Use Policy may result in a denial of access to University computer resources, and those disciplinary actions provided or authorized by the Collected Rules and Regulations of the University of Missouri.

Submitted to Library Council: March 22, 2006
Approved by Library Council: March 22, 2006
Approved by Director of Libraries: March 22, 2006