Computer Use

Public Access Computer Procedures

  • All public access computers in the Huntsville Madison County Public Library System may be used by adults and children ages 10 and older. The Youth Services Department of the Main Library and some Branches have computers that are specifically for children, and have no age limits. To use all other public access computers, children ages 9 and under need to be accompanied by an adult 18 years or older.
  • The Library uses an automated PC Reservation system. Every effort is made to provide equitable access and time to all users of our public computers.
  • All computer users must have one of the following:
    1. A valid Huntsville-Madison County Public Library card.
    2. A Public Computer Use Only Card for non-residents, guests, and residents ineligible for a full membership. This limited-access card is strictly for computer usage. It may be obtained at a service desk and should be issued to patrons who are frequent users of the public computers. Such cards are unable to check out items; guest and non-resident patrons wishing to upgrade computer-use only cards may apply for a full card at a circulation desk. Non-resident fees apply to full membership cards.
    3. Guest computer use ID—This type of card will no longer be issued effective April 1, 2008.
  • To use a public access computer, a user must have either a valid Huntsville-Madison County Public Library card or a Public Computer Use Only card. No one may use another person’s card or card number. Anyone that does not comply with this requirement will have his or her card blocked for one month and will lose borrowing and computer use privileges during that time.
  • Copies made on computer printers are $.15/page, with the exception that there are no charges for print-outs made of searches in our online catalog.
  • Generally, a patron is limited to 1 hour usage per day with 1 extension for 30 minutes if no one is waiting.
  • High demand locations have express workstations for quick email access and other short uses. These computers have a time limit of 15 minutes, and are on a first-come, first-served basis. No reservations or sign-ups are required for these workstations.
  • Reservations, where reservations may be made, will be held for only five (5) minutes past the reservation time in all locations but the Regional Computer Training Center, where they will be held for ten (10) minutes.
  • Flash Drives may be purchased for $7.00; headsets for $2.00.
  • Patrons may access personal e-mail accounts that are web-based like Hotmail, Yahoo and America Online.
  • Patrons are required to use only the software available on the library computers, and are not allowed to load software on a computer's hard drive, or use their own software on a floppy disk or portable USB flash storage device.
  • Patrons may use portable USB flash storage devices, also called memory sticks, on the library computers. The library is not responsible for any damage that might occur to a patron's personal device, and cannot guarantee, due to manufacturer variations, that all memory sticks will work with library workstations. A patron's personal USB peripherals such as external hard drives and webcams are not permitted for use on library computers.
  • Individual departments or Branches may have additional procedures that are specific to each location and based on their users' needs.

Internet Safety Policy

This is the public’s library. Our mission is to enrich the educational, recreational, and cultural life of our community through materials, information, and programs that foster a lifelong love of learning.

Internet Access

The Library collection is supplemented by the wide variety of resources available through the Alabama Virtual Library and the Internet.  Computers are provided for our users to access these online resources in the Library, and free classes are available in the Computer Training Center for those who wish to improve their computer and Internet skills.

The content of the Internet is unregulated, and the Library has no control over the resources available there.  Information found on the Internet may be reliable and current, or it may be inaccurate, out of date, illegal, obscene or sexually explicit.  Because the Library cannot monitor or control the information available through the Internet, users access the Internet at their own discretion.

In order to provide equal access for users to its computers and the Internet, the Library sets time limits for computer usage and requires user sign-up or reservations.

Users are expected to utilize the Library computers in a responsible manner and to respect the rights of other users.  Any actions that will cause damage to computer software or equipment, or will result in the invasion of privacy or harassment of others will not be allowed.

The Library will have no liability for direct, indirect or consequential damages related to the use of information accessed through the Library’s Internet service.  Since software and information downloaded from any sources, including the Internet, may contain computer viruses, users are advised to utilize virus-checking software on their home computers.  The Library is not responsible for damage to users’ storage devices or computers or for any loss of data, damage or liability that may occur from the use of the Library’s computers.

Responsibilities of Parents/Guardians of Minors

Parents/guardians are responsible for their minor (under the age of 17) children’s use of the Library’s resources and facilities.  This includes using the Internet at any of the Library locations.  Parents who believe that their children cannot responsibly use the Library’s Internet access are requested to monitor their children’s Internet use.

The Library will assist parents/guardians and children in the use of the use of the Internet, and suggest specific web sites that are age and content appropriate for children.

Unacceptable Uses of Computers

The following general uses of the Internet and Library computers are not permitted:

  • Viewing graphic sexual materials;
  • Downloading and installing software on Library computers;
  • Hacking the Library network, including unauthorized use of network logins
  • Using the Internet for unlawful purposes;

The following types of Internet and Library computer usage are prohibited for minors as specified in the Neighborhood Children's Internet Protection Act (NCIPA):

  • Access by minors to inappropriate matter on the Internet and World Wide Web;
  • Uses that compromise the safety and security of minors when using electronic mail, chat rooms and other forms of direct electronic communications;
  • Unauthorized access, including hacking, and other unlawful activities by minors online;
  • Unauthorized disclosure, use and dissemination of personal identification information regarding minors; and
  • Access by minors to materials harmful to minors.

The term "harmful to minors" is defined by the Communications Act of 1934 (47 USC Section 254 [h][7], as meaning any picture, image, graphic image file, or other visual depiction that

  • taken as a whole and with respect to minors, appeals to a prurient interest in nudity, sex, or excretion;
  • depicts, describes, or represents, in a patently offensive way with respect to what is suitable for minors, an actual or simulated sexual act or sexual contact, actual or simulated normal or perverted sexual acts, or a lewd exhibition of the genitals;
  • taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value as to minors.

Technology Protection Measures

The Library uses technology protection measures, as required by the Children’s Internet Protection Act, to protect against access to visual depictions that (1) are obscene, (2) contain child pornography, or (3) are harmful to minors.

Technology protection measures are not foolproof, and may not always prevent Library patrons and staff from inadvertently accessing text or images that may be offensive.  Sites that contain inoffensive and useful information may also be erroneously blocked.

Library staff will disable upon request the technology protection measures on designated computers to allow Internet access for lawful purposes for adults (age 17 or older).

Adults or minors may also request access to web sites that are erroneously blocked.  Library staff will review the sites in question and provide access to those that are blocked in error.

Penalty for Violation of Policy

Any user who fails to comply with this policy will receive a warning and will forfeit the remainder of his computer time.  After the first warning, users continuing to violate this policy will be issued a six-month trespass warning and will be barred from using any Library facilities for this period of time.


This Internet Safety Policy was adopted by the Board of Trustees of the Huntsville Madison County Public Library at a public meeting, following normal public notice, on June 26, 2002, and revised on September 21, 2004 and April 21, 2005.  It was reviewed and revised by the Library Board at a public meeting, following normal public notice, on March 19, 2014.


Due to Public Health concerns, the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library no longer loans Shared Computer Headsets for Public Use.

Patrons are welcome to bring in personal headsets suitable for computer stereo use, or to purchase a reusable quality stereo headset at a service desk for $2.00 each. Any headset purchased becomes property of the patron, and must be taken with the patron upon exit from the Library.

The Huntsville-Madison County Public Library is not responsible for purchased or personal headsets left on the premises, or damaged due to patron misuse.

Approved by the Board of the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library July 18, 2001.

Acceptable Use Policy

HMCPL encourages patrons to engage in interactive sections of our websites, by participating in online discussions and, in some cases, providing content. Before you participate in these activities please read our policy on user-generated web content:

  1. Patrons who provide online content to HMCPL for its websites are granting HMCPL full license to use such material for promotion of library services, collections and other activities. By posting comments on our websites, patrons agree that HMCPL may use their content for these purposes without compensation.
  2. All content submitted for online discussion will be reviewed by staff. While we may not always have the resources to review patron comments prior to posting, HMCPL reserves the right to edit or delete user content in a manner that is consistent with our mission and policies. As such, we will not post content that contains vulgar language, personal attacks of any kind, or offensive comments that target or disparage groups by ethnicity, race, religion, sex or gender.
  3. HMCPL reserves the right to moderate user-generated content for any reason.
  4. HMCPL is not responsible for any user-generated comments and contents that appear on our websites.
  5. This policy may be revised at any time.