Policies

Mission and Goals

The mission of the Mercer Public Library is to provide quality materials and services that fulfill educational, informational, cultural, and recreational needs of the entire community in an atmosphere that is welcoming, respectful, and businesslike. The general library goals of the Mercer Public Library shall be to:
  1. Serve all residents of the community and the surrounding region.
  2. Acquire and make available to all patrons of the library such books, periodicals, pamphlets, digital access, audiovisual materials, and other services as will address their needs to:
    1. become well informed;
    2. locate answers to important questions;
    3. cultivate the imagination and creative expression;
    4. develop skills for career and vocational advancement;
    5. enjoy leisure by means of reading and other media services; and
    6. facilitate community services and groups.
  3. Serve as a center for encouraging children, young people, and adults to educate and inform themselves continuously.
  4. Acquire the means to provide the most frequently requested material locally and upon demand.
  5. Maintain a program of service which locates information, guides reading, organizes and interprets material for people of various backgrounds, and stimulates thinking and intellectual development in individuals of any age.
  6. Strive consistently to discover new methods and improvements for better service for the library’s patrons.
  7. Review regularly these goals of the Mercer Public Library and revise them as needed in the light of new developments and changing community needs.

Who May Use the Library

The library will serve all patrons who request service. Service will not be denied or abridged because of religious, racial, social, economic, or political status; mental, emotional, or physical condition; age; gender; or sexual orientation.

The use of the library may be denied for due cause. Such cause may be failure to return library materials or to pay penalties, destruction of library property, disturbance of other patrons, or any other illegal, disruptive, or objectionable conduct on library premises.

Patron Responsibilities and Conduct

In order to keep the library a safe and welcoming place for all, patrons must maintain necessary and proper standards of behavior while using the library.  Patrons are expected to:

  • Respect others.
    • Keep conversations and all electronic equipment (computers, music players, cell phones, etc.) at a low volume that doesn’t disturb others.
    • Respect other patrons’ privacy and their right to use the library.
    • Use appropriate language.
    • Keep your cell phone in silent mode and move to the library vestibule or outside to receive or make phone calls.
    • Follow all town ordinances and state and federal law.
    • Do not expose other patrons or staff to explicit images or information.
    • Do not threaten or harass library staff, volunteers, or patrons.
  • Respect the library and library property.
    • Respect the library facility, materials, furniture, and equipment.
    • Keep food and beverages contained.
    • Clean up after yourself.
  • Maintain a safe and healthy environment.
    • Be fully clothed and wear shoes.
    • Keep pets out of the library. (Trained service animals are welcome.)
    • Supervise children under the age of six.
    • Do not use any tobacco products or electronic cigarettes in the library.
    • Do not visit the library under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
    • Do not carry firearms, concealed or openly carried, or any other weapons.
  • Follow all instructions from library staff and volunteers.

Children in the Library

Young children:  The Mercer Public Library encourages visits by young children and it is our desire to make their visit both memorable and enjoyable. Library staff are not expected to assume the responsibility for the care of unsupervised children in the library.  Therefore, all children under the age of six must be accompanied by a parent or designated responsible person while in the library.  If the young child is attending a library program, a parent or responsible person must remain in the library throughout the program. Parents, whether present or absent, are ultimately responsible for the behavior of the child.

Disruptive children:  Children of all ages are encouraged to use the library for homework, recreational reading, and program attendance. The library staff realizes that the library will be noisier at times and that children by nature can cause commotion. However, children (whether with parents or not) who are being continually disruptive will be given a warning that they must settle down or will be asked to leave the library.  If after a second warning a child continues to be disruptive, he/she will be asked to leave the library.  If the child needs to contact a parent, he/she may do so and then wait with a staff person until the parent arrives.

Animals in the Library

In order to promote the general health and safety of the public and library staff, animals are not allowed in the library unless they are service animals or are part of a library program.

Service animals, which are not always dogs, are not required to be identified by a special harness or collar. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, users of service animals are not required to show papers or to prove a disability. To determine if a patron is accompanied by a helping dog or has brought a pet into the library, staff members may ask the person if the animal is a pet. Owners of service animals should indicate that they are working animals and not pets. Terms used may include assistance, service, guide, hearing, or helping animal. Service animals are welcome in the library, but owners of pets will be asked to remove them from the library.

Cell phone usage

Ringing phones and loud conversations can become a distraction for other library users. We ask that cell phone users be courteous to their fellow patrons and obey the following rules:

  1. Turn off cell phones or set to a silent mode while in the library.
  2. Refrain from making calls from inside the library. The vestibule area may be used to make short phone calls during inclement weather. Please move extended conversations outside the library.
  3. If it is necessary to receive a call while in the library, please do so quietly and immediately move outside or to the vestibule to hold your conversation.

Weapons policy

Concealed or openly carried weapons: In order to promote a safe environment for staff and for patrons of all ages, no weapons of any kind, concealed or openly carried, shall be allowed in the library.

Loss of Library privileges

Patrons who violate the Patron Responsibilities and Conduct guidelines may be asked to leave the library by any staff member or library volunteer. Individuals who are unwilling to leave or do not leave within a reasonable amount of time after being instructed to do so will be subject to legal recourse.

The Library Director may determine disciplinary action for patrons who violate the rules of conduct, up to and including the loss of library privileges as follows:

  • 1st offense: Loss of library privileges for 60 days. Parents/guardians of minors will be notified, and if there is reason to suspect that Wisconsin Statutes or federal laws have been violated, the proper authorities will be notified.
  • 2nd offense: Loss of library privileges for 6 months. Parents/guardians of minors will be notified, and if there is reason to suspect that Wisconsin Statutes or federal laws have been violated, the proper authorities will be notified.
  • Any further violations: May lead to permanent loss of library privileges, including the right to visit the building and grounds. Repeat offenders or persons ordered from the premises who do not comply may be subject to arrest and prosecution for trespassing.
  • Severe offenses: Patrons who put the safety of others at risk, violate the law on library premises, or who refuse to obey the instructions of library staff may, at the discretion of the Director, be subject to a longer or permanent loss of library privileges depending on the severity of the incident.

Patrons who have lost library privileges, or parents/guardians of minors who have lost library privileges, may appeal the Director’s decision to the Board of Trustees within 14 days of notification of the ban. The decision of the Library Board is final.

Services of the Library

The library provides materials and resources for information, entertainment, intellectual development, and enrichment of the people of the community.  The library should endeavor to:

  1. Select, organize, and make available necessary books and materials.
  2. Provide guidance and assistance to patrons.
  3. Sponsor and implement programs, exhibits, displays, book lists, etc., which would appeal to children and adults.
  4. Cooperate with other community agencies and organizations.
  5. Secure information beyond its own resources when requested, using interlibrary loan and other resource sharing methods provided through the system and state when necessary.
  6. Lend to other libraries upon request.
  7. Develop and provide services to patrons with special needs.
  8. Maintain a balance in its services to various age groups.
  9. Cooperate with, but not perform the functions of, school or other institutional libraries.
  10. Provide service during hours which best meet the needs of the community, including evening and weekend hours.
  11. Regularly review library services being offered.
  12. Use media and other public relations mechanisms to promote the full range of available library services.

Volunteers and Friends

The Library Board encourages individuals and groups to volunteer their time and efforts in the service of the Mercer Public Library. In appreciation of volunteer services, the library acknowledges the need to organize volunteer activities and provide the appropriate recognition befitting the benefit to the library and the communities it serves.

Annual recognition will be given based on the number of years of service. This will include a listing of volunteer names in a newspaper release, a certificate of appreciation, and the addition of a book to the collection in each volunteer’s name.

A library friends group is a formal association of people who unite to plan and execute, in conjunction with library goals and the needs of the Library Director, programs and events to benefit the library. A friends group is heavily involved in fund-raising for the library and oversees periodic book sales. Friends groups always serve at the pleasure of the Library Board, which is the only body with legal authority to set policy for the development of the library.

Typical Responsibilities of Volunteers

Under immediate supervision, volunteers re-shelve library materials, maintain materials in the library collection in a neat and orderly fashion, and assist in other support tasks as assigned.

Duties
1. Perform alpha-numeric sorting and filing tasks.
2. Arrange returned materials and reshelve them in proper order.
3. Perform shelf-reading and straighten materials on the shelves.
4. Empty the bookdrop and take returned items to the proper place for check in.
5. Refer non-directional questions to appropriate staff member(s).
6. Prepare, repair, or recondition library materials.
7. Assist with library patrons, programs, and displays.
8. Assist patrons with mechanical operation of library equipment.
9. Perform light housekeeping.
10. Perform other related work.

Knowledge and Abilities:
1. Communicate effectively with staff and public.
2. Follow detailed directions.
3. Sort efficiently in alphabetic or numeric order.
4. Understand and perform assigned library procedures.
5. Maintain and foster cooperative and courteous working relationship with the public, peers and supervisors.
6. Knowledge and use of good English grammar and spelling.
7. Apply technical knowledge.
8. Comprehend and follow instructions from supervisor, verbally and in written form.
9. Effectively communicate ideas and information contained in both written and verbal form.
10. Calculate basic arithmetic problems (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) without the aid of a calculator.
11. Effectively read and understand information contained in memoranda, bulletins, etc.

Physical demands:
1. Ability to work in confined spaces.
2. Bending, twisting, reaching and feeling.
3. Climbing, ascending and descending short footstool.
4. Handling, picking up and shelving books.
5. Light lifting and carrying.
6. Standing, walking, stooping, kneeling and crouching.
7. Talking, hearing, near vision, and use of telephone.

All volunteers will be required annually to sign the Mercer Public Library Volunteer Agreement (see Appendix) to ensure their compliance with state confidentiality laws and with local library policy. Volunteers under the age of 18 will also require a parent/guardian signature on the Volunteer Agreement form.

Materials Selection/Collection Development Policy

Objectives

The purpose of the Mercer Public Library is to provide all of its customers with carefully selected tools and other materials to aid the customer in the pursuit of education, information, research, pleasure, and the creative use of leisure time.

Because of the volume of publishing, as well as the limitations of budget and space, the library must have a selection policy with which to meet community interests and needs. The materials selection/collection development policy is used by the library staff in the selection of materials and also serves to acquaint the general public with the principles of selection.

The Library Bill of Rights and The Freedom to Read Statement (see Appendix) have been endorsed by the Mercer Public Library Board of Trustees and are integral parts of the policy.

Responsibility for Selection

The ultimate responsibility for selection of library materials rests with the Library Director who operates within the framework of the policies determined by the Mercer Public Library Board of Trustees. This responsibility may be shared with other members of the library staff. However, because the Director must be available to answer to the Library Board and the general public for actual selections made, the Director has the authority to reject or select any item contrary to the recommendations of the staff.

Criteria for Selection

The main points considered in the selection of materials are:
a) insight into human and social conditions;
b) suitability of subject and style for the intended audience;
c) present and potential relevance to community needs and interest;
d) timeliness or permanent value;
e) relation to existing collection;
f) attention of critics and reviewers in standard bibliographies;
g) scarcity of information in the subject area; and
h) availability of material elsewhere in the community.

Specific Criteria for Works of Non-Fiction

a) authority
b) comprehensiveness and depth of treatment
c) clarity, accuracy and logic of presentation
d) statement of challenging or original point of view

Specific Criteria for Works of Fiction

a) presentation of significant literary or social trends
b) vitality and originality
c) artistic presentation
d) authenticity of historical, regional or social setting
e) sustained interest and entertainment

Bibliographies, periodicals and reviews are major sources of information about new materials. Consideration is given to requests from library patrons and books discussed on public media. Materials are judged on the basis of the work as a whole, not on a part taken out of context. The selection of any material should not be construed as an endorsement by the library of the views contained therein.

Materials for Children and Young People

Criteria applied to the selection of material for children and young people will be the same as applied to materials for adults.
Children and young people are recognized as creative, inquiring individuals with unique capacities for intellectual and emotional growth. The resources of the entire library are accessible to them as the need arises.
Responsibility for the reading of children rests with their parents and legal guardians. Selection of library materials will not be inhibited by the possibility that materials may come in possession of children. The library staff is always available to help guide all customers to appropriate reading material.

Potential Problems or Challenges

The Mercer Public Library recognizes that some materials are controversial and that any given item may offend some patrons. Selection of materials will not be made on the basis of anticipated approval or disapproval, but solely on the basis of the principles stated in this policy.
Library materials will not be marked or identified to show approval or disapproval of their contents, and no library materials will be sequestered except to protect them from damage or theft.

Requests for Reconsideration of Materials

Patrons desiring reconsideration of any material should first discuss their objection with the Librarian. If this does not result in a satisfactory resolution of the matter, the patron will be asked to fill out a “Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials” form (see Appendix). When a patron submits a written request of reconsideration, the Librarian and the Library Board members will consider it in light of the Material Selection Policy. Final determination will be made by a majority vote of the board. The patron will be informed of the decision of the Library Board. No materials will be removed from the shelf without the full implementation of this process.

Gifts and Donations

The library accepts gifts of books and other materials with the understanding that they will be added to the collection only if appropriate and needed. If they are not needed because of duplication, condition, or dated information the librarian can dispose of them as he/she sees fit. Annual publications such as buying guides, AAA tour books, etc., must be current. Duplicates will be shelved at the discretion of the librarian. Books that are not used in the library will be given to the Friends of the Mercer Public Library for library fundraising.

The library will not accept textbooks and Reader’s Digest Condensed books. Magazine subscriptions that are already received by the library will not be accepted. Other magazines will be accepted based on usefulness to the library and condition of the magazine. The same criteria of selection that are applied to purchased materials are applied to gifts.

Memorial gifts of books or money are also accepted with suitable bookplates placed in the book. Specific memorial books can be ordered for the library on request of a patron if the request meets the criteria established by the Board. It is desirable for gifts of specific titles to be offered after consultation with the librarian. The librarian will make the book selection if no specific book is requested. The Mercer Public Library encourages and appreciates gifts and donations. Memorial and “in honor of” books will be kept for as long as they are relevant to the library’s collection.

By law, the library is not allowed to appraise the value of donated materials, though it can provide an acknowledgment of receipt of the items if requested by the donor.

Weeding

An up-to-date, attractive and useful collection is maintained through a continual withdrawal and replacement process. This ongoing process of weeding is the responsibility of the Library Director and is authorized by the Board of Trustees. Withdrawn materials will be handled in a similar manner and under the same authority as donated materials.

Any materials taking space that could otherwise be more effectively used are subject to re-evaluation and discard. This includes older non-fiction which no longer contains current information and once popular fiction no longer in demand. Among those attributes considered will be physical condition, number of copies available, use, adequate coverage in the field, and availability of similar material.
Mercer, Wisconsin, authors and local history books will remain in the collection until the Library Director determines that the book(s) are no longer useful. Local history materials will generally be kept in the collection for as long as possible.

Library Bill of Rights

In addition to the above policies, the Board adopts as a statement of policy the attached Library Bill of Rights as adopted by the American Library Association.

Library card registration

Residents, property owners, and visitors to the Mercer area are eligible to apply for a library card. The Mercer Library shall provide the same services to all residents and property owners of the Northern Waters Library Service area as to residents and property owners of Mercer. Service is also available free of charge to those holding a library card from other library system with which NWLS has an intersystem agreement.

Patrons must be registered and have a valid Merlin card to borrow library materials. Individuals are limited to one card in the Merlin system, regardless of the place of issue. To obtain a card, patrons must fill out an application form and provide proof of identity and residence. A drivers’ license, state identification card, or student ID may be used, or library staff may verify residence using the guidelines from the Wisconsin Proof of Residence for Voter Registration.

Applicants under 14 years of age or adults with a legal guardian or caregiver must have a parent, guardian, or other adult serve as the responsible party for the card. The responsible party is ultimately responsible for any late fees or lost materials on the card and must provide contact information and sign the card application form.

Materials cannot be checked out until a library card is issued. On the day a new library card is issued, the new cardholder may check out up to five (5) items and may not check out any equipment items. Once the cardholder returns the initial items s/he borrowed, the card will have the same limits as all other library cards.

All library cards expire after one year. To renew a library card, patrons must produce identification, update any changed contact information, and clear any outstanding fines and bills.

Lost or forgotten cards

If a patron loses his/her library card, he/she should notify the library as soon as possible and request a replacement.  The cost for a replacement card will be $2.00. All patrons must bring their library cards with them if they intend to check out items or use the computers.

Patrons should safeguard their library cards if they are concerned about access or privacy. Unless a card has been reported lost or stolen, library staff will assume that possession of a library card by a spouse, parent, or even an unrelated individual implies that the cardholder authorizes that individual access to his/her library records and borrow materials on the card.

Lending periods

  • Books and books-on-CD are loaned for three (3) weeks. Books on the “new books” shelf are loaned for two (2) weeks with no renewals.
  • Current issues of periodicals do not circulate. Back issues are loaned for three (3) weeks.
  • DVDs and videotapes are loaned for one (1) week. DVD sets are loaned for two (2) weeks.
  • Items may be renewed up to twice if there are no holds on the title.
  • Inter-library loans are due on the date indicated by the lending library.
  • Generally, reference books and local history materials do not circulate. Some reference materials may be checked out overnight upon approval of the library staff.

Library staff may extend loan periods for individual items when there are extenuating circumstances. The Director may establish the loan period for special collections, materials which are temporarily in great demand, or materials added to the collection that are in a new format. When items are in high demand for a local school assignment, each patron shall be limited to two (2) items on that subject.

A patron with a library card in good standing may borrow a maximum of twenty five (25) items at one time, including no more than seven (7) videotapes/DVDs.

Reserves

Reserves may be placed by patrons either in person, through the library’s online catalog, or over the phone.  Patrons will be notified by telephone or email when the materials become available.  Reserved materials must be picked up within seven (7) days of notification or the item will be offered to the next name on the reserve list.

Fines and charges

The Mercer Public Library is FINE-FREE. There are no overdue fines charged for any library materials. Patrons are still encouraged to honor due dates and request renewals for any materials that they wish to keep longer.

Patrons will be charged the full replacement cost plus a $5 fee for any materials not returned to the library or for any materials damaged beyond normal use. Any patrons with $5 or more in replacement fees on their library card shall not be permitted to check out more materials.

A first-level overdue notice is generated when the material is one week overdue. Patrons with an email address on file will be sent the first-level notice by email. In order to limit the time and expense of sending notices, first-level overdue notices will not be sent via letter. A second-level overdue notice is generated when the material is two weeks overdue. All patrons will be sent the second-level notice by email or by letter.

Any materials more than four (4) weeks past due will be considered lost and will be billed to the patron at the current replacement cost plus a $5.00 processing fee.  A replacement fee notice will be sent by email or by letter. If the value of the item is unknown or if the item is irreplaceable, the processing fee plus a charge equal to the value of the lost item or the cost of an equivalent item, whichever is higher, will be assessed.

Overdue notices are sent as a courtesy reminder, and the library will not be responsible for notices that are misdirected. Patrons are encouraged to keep their mailing address, phone number, and email address updated with the library in order to receive timely notices.

Confidentiality

As specified in Wisconsin Statutes 43.30, “records of any library which is in whole or in part supported by public funds, including the records of a public library system, indicating the identity of any individual who borrows or uses the library’s documents or other materials, resources, or services may not be disclosed except by court order or to persons acting within the scope of their duties in the administration of the library or library system, to persons authorized by the individual to inspect such records, to custodial parents or guardians of children under the age of 16 under sub. (4), to libraries under subs. (2) and (3), or to law enforcement officers under sub. (5).”

The Mercer Public Library adheres to all sections of this Statute regarding the protection of the confidentiality of users. The library recognizes that the library’s circulation records and other records identifying the names of library users are confidential in nature. Such records shall not be made available to any agency of government or law enforcement except under the authority of a search warrant or subpoena. The Mercer Public Library will resist the enforcement of any such process, order, or subpoena until such time as a proper showing of good cause has been made in a court, and has been reviewed by the library’s legal counsel.

Handling of court orders

If a law enforcement officer (or anyone else) brings a subpoena directing library staff to produce library records:

  • Notify the Library Director, or if the Director is not available, notify the Library Board president. Other library staff or volunteers should not accept any legal documents on behalf of the library.
  • The Library Director or board president person should ask the municipal attorney (or library counsel) to review the subpoena.
  • Follow legal counsel’s advice for compliance with the subpoena.

If law enforcement officers bring a court order in the form of a search warrant:

  • A search warrant is executable immediately, unlike a subpoena. The law enforcement officers may begin a search of library records as soon as they enter the library.
  • Notify the Library Director, or if the Director is not available, notify the Library Board president. Other library staff or volunteers should not accept any legal documents on behalf of the library.
  • Request that the law enforcement officers wait until the municipal attorney (or library counsel) is present before the search begins in order to allow counsel an opportunity to examine the search warrant and to assure that the search conforms to the terms of the search warrant. (The law enforcement officials are not required to accede to your request to delay the search.)
  • Cooperate with the search to ensure that only the records identified in the warrant are produced and that no other users’ records are disclosed.

If FBI agents bring a court order in the form of a search warrant issued under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA):

  • A search warrant is executable immediately.
  • Notify the Library Director, or if the Director is not available, notify the Library Board president. Other library staff or volunteers should not accept any legal documents on behalf of the library.
  • Request that the law enforcement officers wait until the municipal attorney (or library counsel) is present before the search begins in order to allow counsel an opportunity to examine the search warrant and to assure that the search conforms to the terms of the search warrant. (The law enforcement officials are not required to accede to your request.)
  • Cooperate with the search to ensure that only the records identified in the warrant are produced and that no other users’ records are disclosed.
  • It is illegal to disclose to any other person (other than those persons necessary to produce the tangible things sought in the warrant) that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has sought or obtained records or other items under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
Handling of parental requests to view records

Wisconsin Statutes Section 43.30 also requires that a library that is in whole or part supported by public funds must disclose to a custodial parent or guardian of a child under the age of 16 any records relating to that child’s use of the library’s documents, or other materials, resources or services. For the purposes of complying with this law, the library will use the following procedure to determine an individual’s right to access a child’s library record:

  • The library will request identification from a person requesting the records of their custodial child (such as a driver’s license or other photo ID).
  • Proof that the person resides at the same address as the child will be considered reasonable proof of custody.
  • A custodial parent who does not have the same address as the child may provide other documents that might reasonably prove that the requester is a custodial parent. Such documents may include, but not be limited to, possession of a birth certificate of the child or a copy of court documents stating that the requester has physical custody of a child.
  • The library will remove identifying information such as address, phone number, age, etc., of the child in question before complying with a request for information, as a custodial parent should already have this information.
  • Library staff will respond to requests for information from custodial parents as soon as practical and without delay.
  • A person who has been denied access to records of a minor child may appeal this decision to the Library Director and/or the Library Board.

Inter-Library Loan

Because of limited budget and space, the library cannot provide all materials that are requested. Interlibrary Loan (ILL) is used to obtain materials that are beyond the scope of this library’s collection and that cannot be borrowed through the local Merlin library consortium. In return for utilizing ILL to satisfy the needs of our patrons, the Mercer Public Library agrees to lend its materials to other libraries through the same ILL network.

In order to maintain the Mercer Public Library’s ability to borrow ILL materials, patron requests must adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Borrowers requesting ILL services must have a Merlin library card in good standing and must be a resident or property owner in the Northern Waters Library Service area, encompassing Ashland, Bayfield, Burnett, Douglas, Iron, Sawyer, Vilas, and Washburn counties in Wisconsin.
  • MPL will provide ILL services to all eligible patrons without charge whenever possible.
  • Patrons may have up to five active ILL requests at any time.
  • Patrons shall pick up requested items in a timely manner, and shall return all ILL items to MPL with their original paperwork or packaging.
  • MPL will not lend or request items that are rare, valuable, fragile, unique and difficult to replace, in high demand in the local Merlin consortium, or in prepublication.
  • If items cannot be obtained through ILL, MPL will attempt to obtain the needed information through document delivery services if appropriate.
  • Patrons must agree to adhere to the due dates set by the lending library. Up to two renewals may be requested in advance of the due date. If a renewal has been denied, patrons must return materials promptly to the borrowing library and MPL will not request further renewals. All ILL material on loan is subject to immediate recall at the request of the lending library.
  • Failure to follow these guidelines may jeopardize MPL’s ability to obtain ILL items for all patrons. Therefore, a patron’s ILL privileges may be suspended if:
    • the patron refuses to return ILL materials on time or when recalled, or to follow other library instructions;
    • the patron damages ILL items; or
    • the patron refuses to pay overdue or replacement charges associated with ILL items.

Reference Services

The Mercer Public Library:

  • Will provide personalized assistance to help patrons find information and locate and use library materials. Patrons may make reference requests in person, by telephone, or through mail or email correspondence.
  • Will provide assistance to anyone regardless of age, background, disability, origin, or views, and will maintain confidentiality for all information requests. Priority will be given to patrons from the town of Mercer, Iron County, and surrounding areas, and to patrons requesting information on the local community and local history.
  • Will assist patrons in the use of the library and teach basic research methodology when appropriate. This may include providing help in developing a research strategy and advice on whether a trip to the library would be worthwhile for individuals who telephone or correspond by letter or email.
  • Will provide bibliographic verification of print and audiovisual items, and will assist patrons in obtaining materials through interlibrary loan when necessary.
  • May refer library users to other agencies and libraries in pursuit of needed information.
  • May use not only the library’s resources in printed form, but consult appropriate digital resources, the regional resource library, and other agencies by telephone and online in pursuit of “ready reference” information. Staff will provide information based on accurate and authoritative print or online resources, or from a reliable authority, and will cite sources when answering requests.
  • Will use professional judgement when providing information in the areas of law, medicine, consumer information, personal finance, and taxes, and will refrain from making interpretations or recommendations. MPL cannot guarantee the accuracy of information contained in library materials or other materials obtained by the library, including online resources.
  • May set reasonable limits on the amount of time and resources dedicated to patron requests for information.

Programming

A “program” is a planned interaction between the library staff and the program participants for the purpose of promoting library materials, facilities, or services, and increasing the library’s visibility; and to offer the community an informational, entertaining, or cultural experience.

Programming may include such activities as story times, films and activities on no-school days, summer library programs for children, lectures and workshops for all ages, community social activities, and book or author discussion groups. The library director will select program topics, speakers, and resources based on criteria including:

  • Community needs and interests
  • Availability of appropriate program space
  • Intended audience
  • Presenter quality and qualifications in content area
  • Budget
  • Historical or educational significance
  • Connection to other library programs and priorities

The board, in conjunction with the Library Director, will establish goals for programming to facilitate the effective implementation of this service. Performers and presenters will not be excluded from consideration because of their origin, background, or views, or because of potential controversy. Programming sponsored by the library does not necessarily reflect the views of the Library Board or the Town of Mercer. Members of the public who object to the content of a library program may complete and sign the “Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials or Exhibits” form, which will be forwarded to the Library Director and judged according to the policies established by the library.

Public Relations

Public relations goals of the Mercer Public Library are:

  • to promote a good understanding of the library’s objectives and services among governing officials, civic leaders, and the general public.
  • to promote active participation in the varied services offered by the library to people of all ages.

The Board recognizes that public relations involves every person who has connection with the library. The Board urges its own members and every staff member to realize that he or she represents the library in every public contact.  Good service supports good public relations.

The Director will be expected to make presentations and to participate in community activities to promote library services. A reasonable amount of library time will be allowed for preparation and speaking.  Materials to be used by press, radio, or television will be approved by the Director.

Equipment Use

The library provides access to equipment such as a copy machine, fax machine, laminator, paper cutters, and other small equipment as a convenience for Mercer Library patrons and the community. These items are generally for in-library use only, and the library is not responsible for ensuring the availability and reliability of this equipment. Library staff may be available to assist patrons if time permits.

Such equipment is provided as a courtesy to the library’s users, and users may be charged a nominal fee for their use. Library staff will not be responsible for unclaimed documents. Users are advised that there are restrictions on copyrighted materials, and any violation of copyright is the responsibility of the user.

The library may also circulate three-dimensional objects as part of its lending collection. Objects may be chosen for circulation based on their educational and useful value to library patrons and members of the community, following procedures in the VIII. Materials Selection/Collection Development Policy. Such objects may include, but not be limited to: telescopes, digital cameras and video recorders, projectors, canning and cooking equipment, children’s kits, and more.

Borrowers are solely responsible for objects checked out on their library card, and will be billed for reasonable repair or replacement costs associated with damage or loss of objects. Patrons wishing to borrow objects must have a library card in good standing and must borrow and return objects to the Mercer Public Library in person during normal library hours. Objects may not be returned to other area libraries or placed in the library’s book drop.

Computer and Internet Use

The Mercer Public Library is providing access to the internet as a means to enhance the information and learning opportunities for the citizens of the library’s service area.  The Board of Trustees has established the Internet Use Policy to ensure appropriate and effective use of this resource.

Unlike the selection of library materials on library shelves, librarians do not select the offerings of the internet.  Because not all online resources are accurate and complete, and some sites may be offensive, library users are encouraged to exercise critical judgment in accessing information on the internet.

The library is committed to providing its employees and patrons with an environment that is free from all forms of harassment, including sexual harassment; to prohibiting the display of obscene material, child pornography, and material that is harmful to minors; and to making every possible effort within constitutional limits to prevent minors from viewing materials that could be deemed harmful.

The library cannot assure that data or files downloaded by users are virus-free. The library is not responsible for damage to equipment or data on a user’s personal computer from the use of data downloaded from the library’s internet service.

Due to national security concerns, the library staff is unable to tell patrons if their internet surfing habits, passwords, or e-mails are being monitored by federal agents.

Internet Use

The following rules and procedures govern the use of the library’s internet workstations:

  • Access to the internet is available to all patrons. Use of the library’s computers or internet connection implies acceptance of the Internet Use policy.
  • Parents of minor children must assume responsibility for their children’s use of the library’s computer equipment. Anyone under the age of 18 and his/her parent or guardian must sign the Internet Use Agreement (see Appendix L) in front of library staff before access will be granted.
  • All access is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Patrons are allowed a 60-minute session, with a second session available if there are no other patrons waiting. Reservations or extended time periods may be allowed for special circumstances at the discretion of the library staff.
  • All library computers use hard drive protection software to prevent the installation of new software or saving files. Patrons must provide portable storage (discs or flash drives) to save any files created or downloaded on the library’s computers.
  • Printing is available for a nominal fee.
  • Library staff may be available to assist new users and answer questions. However, they may not have time to provide in-depth instruction or technical assistance.
  • Library staff will not assist any users with inputting personal legal or financial information, including but not limited to identification numbers, credit card numbers, tax information, bank account numbers, and employment applications.
Responsibilities of Users

Users at the Mercer Public Library computer workstations should bear in mind that the workstations are located in public areas shared by people of all ages and backgrounds.  Library users are expected to respect the privacy of other library users and to show consideration for all users when viewing web pages.

No person shall use a library workstation or wireless internet service in a way that disturbs or interferes with users, employees, or operations of the library.  Patrons may not:

  1. View, print, distribute, display, send, or receive images, text, or graphics of obscene materials or material that violates laws relating to child pornography.
  2. Disseminate or display to minors materials that may be harmful to minors. The display of obscene graphics or graphics that may be harmful to minors is illegal under Wisconsin Statues 944.21 and 948.11.
  3. Transmit threatening or harassing material.
  4. Engage in any activity that is deliberately offensive or creates an intimidating or hostile environment.
  5. Violate copyright or software licensing agreements.
  6. Gain unauthorized access to any computing, information, or communications devices or resources.
  7. Damage or alter the library’s computers, peripherals, software, or configurations.
  8. Create or distribute computer viruses or other malicious code.
Failure to comply

Failure to comply with this policy will result in:

  • 1st offense: Loss of computer privileges for 60 days. Parents/guardians of minors will be notified and if there is reason to believe that the Wisconsin Statutes have been violated, the proper authorities will be notified.
  • 2nd offense: Loss of computer privileges for 6 months. Parents/guardians of minors will be notified and if there is reason to believe that the Wisconsin Statutes have been violated, the proper authorities will be notified.
  • Any further violations may lead to permanent loss of library privileges including the right to visit the building and grounds, per the Loss of Library Privileges policy in section Patron Responsibilities and Conduct.
  • Any form of vandalism to the library’s equipment will result in a fine of $1,000 or replacement value of the equipment. Vandalism may include the installation of unauthorized passwords or malicious code. Vandalism may be reported to the Iron County Sheriff for investigation.

WiFi Policy

The Mercer Public Library (MPL) provides an unfiltered wireless internet access point for use by the public. This service is for patrons with WiFi-capable devices such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets. The library cannot guarantee the reliability of the wireless service or that it will be available at all times.

Individuals may need to know how to use their wireless device’s configuration software to connect to the wireless network. Library staff is not allowed to configure patrons’ laptops or handheld computers or install any devices or software on those computers.

Wireless networks are not secure and use is at the individual’s own risk. Virus, security and privacy protection are the responsibility of the patron and are not provided by the library.

The library’s wireless internet access is unfiltered, and the library assumes no responsibility for its content. By choosing to use this free service, patrons agree to abide by the library’s Internet Use policy.

Meeting Room Policy

The Mercer Public Library Reading Room and Friends of the Library Room are available to reserve for use by individuals or organized groups in the library service area.

Rooms may be used for:

  • Meetings by area residents, organizations, businesses, and visitors;
  • Free presentations, group discussions, workshops, and similar functions open to the public;
  • Educational classes and workshops, including those that charge a fee for admission;
  • Organizations engaged in educational, cultural, governmental, or charitable activities.

Rooms may not be used for:

  • Any purpose that interferes with the normal operation of the library;
  • Events where products or memberships are sold, except for educational classes or workshops that offer materials or tools related to the class for sale; or
  • For-profit businesses or individuals to conduct regularly scheduled office hours.

Making a reservation

  • The Library Director shall accept reservations for the available rooms and ensure that reservations meet the criteria in this policy. A group or individual denied a reservation by the Library Director may appeal that decision to the Library Board.
  • Library programming and Friends of the Library activities will have priority for use of the Reading Room or Friends of the Library Room. Other reservations are scheduled on a first come, first served basis.
  • Reservations may be made up to one hundred eighty (180) days in advance, or up to one year in advance in the case of annual meetings.

Fees for room use

  • Individuals, community organizations, and registered nonprofit groups may reserve either room at no charge. For-profit organizations and businesses who wish to use the room for non-commercial purposes (e.g. meetings, training sessions, etc.) may reserve either room at no charge. Donations are gratefully accepted.
  • For-profit groups or individuals who intend to charge an admission fee for attending an educational activity held in the library shall be charged a $25 fee for use of the room.
  • Cancellation of a room reservation must be made 24 hours in advance of the meeting date for return of fees, unless cancellation is caused by weather or unexpected library closings.

General guidelines

  • Groups using the room shall leave it in a neat, clean, and orderly condition. Failure to do so may result in the denial of future room reservations.
  • The library does not assume any liability for groups or individuals attending an activity in the library. The library is also not responsible for any equipment, clothing, or other items brought to the library by any group or individual.
  • Meeting rooms are available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.
  • The library may include any activities that are open to the public on its online library calendars at the request of the organizers.

Disclaimer

The fact that a group is permitted to meet at the library does not in any way constitute an endorsement of the group’s policies or beliefs by the library staff, the Mercer Public Library Board of Trustees, or the Town of Mercer.

Displays and Exhibits

As an educational and cultural institution, the Mercer Public Library welcomes exhibits of interest and information to the community.  Displays of art, handiwork, historical material, nature study, or other material deemed of general interest may be exhibited.

The Director shall accept or reject material based on availability and suitability for general audiences. Display or exhibit of materials does not necessarily indicate the library’s endorsement of the issues or events promoted by the collection of material. Exhibits cannot in any way disrupt the normal routine of the library, and the library reserves the right to reject any part of an exhibit or to change the manner of the display if it is deemed necessary.

The library will not censor or remove a display because certain members of the community may disagree with its content. Members of the public who object to the content of an exhibit may complete and sign the “Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials or Exhibits” form, which will be forwarded to the Library Director and judged according to the policies established by the library.

The library assumes no responsibility for the preservation or protection, and no liability for possible damage or theft of any item displayed or exhibited. All items placed in the library are there at the owner’s risk. A release must be signed by the exhibitor before any items can be displayed in the library.

Any work displayed as part of the library’s “Artist of the Month” program or other temporary exhibit may include a statement indicating the work is for sale or list a sale price. However, the library shall not handle any transactions. Any patron wishing to purchase a work exhibited during the Artist of the Month display will be given the artist’s contact information to discuss a sale. If the artist sells a piece on display, the library will request that the work remain on display during the planned exhibit time if possible.

Bulletin Boards

Bulletin board materials may be submitted for posting by nonprofit and community organizations for civic, educational, or cultural purposes. Such organizations may submit literature publicizing a specific event. Limited space generally allows only short-term notices, and priority will be given first to the library and Friends of the Library announcements. Disallowed materials are those that do not fit into the library’s role as a source of non-biased community information, including but not limited to: political material, petitions, and solicitations.

The Director must approve all postings and may prohibit postings that do not meet library standards.  Library staff will place and remove postings promptly. The Library will not be responsible for returning materials unless prior arrangements are made.

Fundraising Policy

Fundraising for organizations other than the library shall not be allowed on library property, including sales of any merchandise or raffle tickets. Exceptions to this policy may be made with explicit advance approval of the Library Board for local non-profit organizations only.

Donation of goods and services

The Board of Trustees of the Mercer Public Library recognizes the value of donated goods and services to the library. Local individuals who would like to donate labor or materials for any library project are encouraged to contact the Library Director or a member of the Library Board.

The Board of Trustees reserves the right to accept or reject any donations based on the needs of the library. Donations of building materials or labor for any library building project must meet the design specifications determined by the project architect and coordinate with the project’s construction timeline.

In the case that multiple businesses or individuals offer donations for the same goods or services, the Library Board will select what donations to accept based on the same criteria that would be used in selecting a contractor for any paid project. These criteria include, but are not limited to: experience, quality of work, quality of materials, and references.

Local history and archives collection development

Purpose

The purpose of the Mercer Public Library Local History and Archives Collection (“Archives”) is to preserve information relevant to the history of Mercer and the Iron County, Wisconsin, area. Materials are collected to illustrate the development of Mercer and Iron County, its natural and man-made environment, and its culture. The Archives shall include a focus on important industries in the Mercer area including lumber, mining, and tourism, and shall strive to collect records from influential events and the people who lived, worked, and had an impact on the area.

Such records may include, but not be limited to: photographs, newspapers, family histories, public records, manuscripts, business records, maps, minutes, books, audio and visual recordings, and personal papers. The Archives will collect materials that illustrate life in Mercer and Iron County from all time periods, including the current era. Select materials on the history of Wisconsin, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and other areas may be considered for inclusion when such materials are deemed to provide further insight into the development of Mercer and the Iron County area.

Goals

The goals of the Archives are:

  • To provide appropriate conditions for storage and access to archival materials;
  • To provide reference services to individuals and organizations interested in the history of Mercer and the Iron County area; and
  • To facilitate public awareness of the Mercer area and its residents.
  • To educate and inspire a greater sense of history.

Materials in the Archives are arranged, described, and made available to the public through physical access and digital collections as appropriate based on the condition, age, copyright issues, or written agreements with the donor.

The presence of materials in the Archives does not indicate an endorsement of their content or views by the Mercer Library Board of Trustees, library staff, or Town of Mercer.

Acquisitions

Materials selected for inclusion in the Archives must be relevant to the mission of the Archives; must be in a usable condition that does not pose a risk of harm to Archives staff, volunteers, patrons or other collection materials; must not duplicate items already in the Archives; and must be of a size consistent with the Archives’ capacity. When selecting materials for inclusion, Archives staff may consider the resources required to retain the records, the records’ relationship to other records in the Archives, the availability of suitable storage facilities, and any rights or restrictions placed by the donor.

The focus of collections in the Archive shall be on textual records, photographs and other visual records, maps, plans and architectural records, sound and visual recordings, and digital materials. Three-dimensional items may only be considered for collection in the case where such items are unique examples of important aspects of local history. Photographic images of three-dimensional items may be kept for the Archives’ digital and print collections as appropriate.

The Archives will acquire materials by donation, bequest, purchase, or transfer. All acquisitions shall be recorded with a Statement of Gift, Memorandum of Understanding, or Loan Agreement. (See Appendix M.) Purchase will only be considered if the materials fill a critical gap in the collection as determined by the Library Director. The Archives will only accept materials on a permanent basis except when borrowing materials for short-term loans to reproduce or to include in displays or exhibits, or when establishing cooperative agreements with other organizations. (See Cooperative Agreements, below.)

The Archives retains the right to reproduce materials by mechanical, electronic, or photographic means for security, conservation, or research purposes.

Mercer Public Library and Archives staff are unable to provide financial appraisal of any archival records or artifacts, including those donated to the Archives. Donors may obtain an independent appraisal for tax purposes.

Deaccessioning

Materials added to the Archives shall be held until such time that they are deemed to no longer fulfill the Acquisitions policy. Reappraisal and deaccessioning is an important part of archival practice and shall be conducted in a transparent manner, with full documentation retained in the Archives’ records.

Archives staff shall use professional judgment when reappraising collections and shall take into consideration donor agreements, ethical issues regarding the disposition of collections, and resource allocation. The Archives shall not deaccession items at the request of a previous owner. Disposal of deaccessioned items will follow the following options:

  1. Offer to return the deaccessioned items to the original donor by contacting them at their last known address.
  2. Transfer the deaccessioned item to an appropriate nonprofit or educational organization that is capable of properly caring for the item.
  3. Sell or dispose of the items following the Mercer Public Library Disposal of Library Property
Cooperative Agreements

In some circumstances, the Archives may work in partnership with other local organizations to house and maintain records on a temporary basis for exhibit, community access, digitization, preservation, or other purposes relevant to the Archives’ mission. In such cases, a memorandum of understanding shall be signed to delineate the ownership of the records, the scope of the project, and the rights and responsibilities of all parties.

Inclement weather closing

The Library Director or the Director’s designee has the authority to close the library in case of emergency or inclement weather, and will notify the Library Board of emergency closings.

As of January 2019, the library will no longer automatically close when Mercer School is closed due to inclement weather. Instead, the library director and staff will make the decision to close the library or delay the library’s opening only when road conditions are unsafe for library staff or adult patrons. Patrons are advised to call the library at 715-476-2366 to verify that the library is open when road conditions are poor.