PC Use Policy

The New York Public Library provides free, self-service public access to the Internet, hundreds of electronic databases, word processing and other software applications* at all Library locations through an electronic reservation system.

In addition to multiple desktop computers, laptops may be borrowed for in-library use only at many Library locations. Internet use on laptops and in designated children's areas is in compliance with the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA).

The Library reserves the right to revise its policy as necessary.

PC Use Rules & Regulations

The New York Public Library strives to provide its users with the safest, most democratic & effective use of its resources.  The Library has developed the following rules regarding the use of public computers.  Those found in violation of Library policy are subject to immediate suspension of computer privileges, possible barring from The Library and/or criminal charges.

Users may not:
•    Use Library computers to access material that is legally defined as obscenity, child pornography, or harmful to minors.
•    Use The Library’s network for unauthorized access or "hacking" into any electronic, informational or communication services or resources.
•    Invade the privacy of others by misrepresenting oneself as another user or attempting to modify or gain access to files, passwords or data belonging to others.
•    Add, delete, modify or tamper with the installed hardware or software.
•    Engage in any activity that is harassing or defamatory.
•    Deliberately propagate computer worms, viruses or other malicious content on or through The Library’s network.
•    Attempt to circumvent The Library’s reservation software or established policies in any way.
•    Use any paper for printing other than what has been provided by The Library.

General Guidelines

  • Users must conform to the policies stated here, The New York Public Library's General Rules & Regulations & The New York Public Library's Guidelines for Internet Use when using Library computers.
  • New York Public Library cards are non-transferable. Users must use their own library card to register for an assigned session. The use of a friend or family member's library card is not permitted & will result in the suspension of computer privileges.
  • A valid Library card is required for use of a PC or laptop.  Your Library card entitles you to one session per day, on a first come, first served, basis.  Your 4 digit Personal Identification Number (PIN) or Password must also be provided to make a reservation.
  • Users should not deliberately display any electronic content in a way that will adversely affect those who may find it offensive.  Headphones are required for listening to any resource with an audio component.  Users may purchase headphones from The Library or use their own.
  • Children and young adult users have priority over adults to computers designated for children and young adults.  At their discretion, staff may allow adults temporary access to these computers. However, if a child or young adult user needs to use a computer, the adult’s session may not be possible to reschedule on another computer.
  • Privacy screens applied to Library computers are not to be removed at any time.  Adults using computers designated for children and teens must adhere to rules regarding computer use by children and teens.
  • Internet & database users must perform their own searches, though staff may provide assistance as time allows.  Limited assistance may also be provided with word processing and other desktop applications.  The Library offers many classes in technology training for beginners.
  • Library Catalog PCs are intended for catalog searching only.  With the exception of The Research & Central Libraries, access to nypl.org databases & other resources is available only through Internet-ready PCs & laptops. 
  • Computers may be used by up to two people at a time when their behavior is not disruptive to others.
  • All print jobs must be collected prior to the Library’s closing time.
  • Users may leave an unattended PC “locked” for 10 minutes.  If a user does not return within 10 minutes, the PC may be made available to another user.
  • Circulating laptops are never to be left unattended.
  • Two onscreen warnings will appear prior to the end of your computer session.  Failure to comply with these warnings will result in the loss of your work. 
  • A USB-ready memory device or CD-R disk is required to save your work.  The Library offers USB flash drives for sale at the Circulation Desk.
  • At the end of each session, patrons must leave the computer promptly so it can be made available to the next user.  Circulating laptops must be returned promptly to their distribution point at the end of each session in the condition they were borrowed.
  • The last computer session of the day ends 15 minutes before The Library closes.
  • The New York Public Library is not responsible for time or data lost due to computer failure.