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Electronic Information Policy for Library Users

1.        Purpose & Scope:

1.1. The primary purpose of this policy is to detail the rights and responsibilities of consumers of electronic information in the West Virginia University Libraries.

1.2. Given the rapid rate of change within the field of electronic information this document must be regarded as a work in progress. Revision will not only be necessary but desirable.


2.      Underlying Principles

2.1. The principles of academic freedom apply in full to the electronic communications and information environment. The WVU Libraries are committed to The Library Bill of Rights and its interpretations, the American Library Association Code of Ethics, and ALA Policies on Confidentiality.

2.2. The WVU Libraries Electronic Information Policy is part of the University's overall policy structure and should be interpreted in conjunction with other existing policies. Use of the Library's computing and networking services is governed by the policy statement provided in this document, other relevant University policies, and all applicable laws. Individuals using these services should be particularly aware of the policies which apply to discrimination, harassment and equal opportunity and those which apply to the appropriate use of university resources.

2.3. The use of all WVU Information Technology Services resources, including those of the Libraries, is subject to the usual requirements of legal and ethical behavior within the WVU community.  Complete information on WVU ITS Policies and Standards, as they relate to Acceptable Use, Security and Privacy, can be found on their website.   

2.4. In particular, users should be aware of sections 2.1.3 and 2.1.4 of the ITS Acceptable Use Policy, which outline personal use of technology resources, expectations of privacy, and confidentiality.

2.5. Users of WVU ITS resources must comply with all federal, West Virginia, and other applicable law; all generally applicable rules of the West Virginia University Board of Governors and all generally applicable WVU policies; and all applicable contracts, and licenses. Examples of such laws, rules, policies, contracts and licenses include the laws of libel, privacy, copyright, trademark, obscenity, and child pornography; the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act; the West Virginia Governmental Ethics Act; the WVU Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities; the WVU policy on sexual harassment; and all applicable software licenses.

2.6. The conventions of courtesy and etiquette which govern vocal and written communications shall extend to electronic communications as well.

2.7. The WVU Libraries have developed certain procedures to assist patrons in the use of electronic information resources. These procedures are based on the following principles:

2.7.1.      Library workstations and loaned laptops are to be used for course-related activity, scholarly research, and other activities directly related to the educational, research and public service mission of the University.

2.7.2.      Patrons may not install software for personal use on library workstations.

2.7.3.      Users should not have an expectation that their work will be saved on library workstations.  Users who need to save their work should do so by saving it to the web, sending to an email, saving to a storage device such as a flash drive, etc. 


3.      Definitions

3.1. Our primary user base is the WVU community (faculty, students, and staff). This policy recognizes that there is a larger user community that is defined by University policy, consortium and cooperative agreements and contractual obligations.

3.2. For the purposes of this policy, electronic information is any electronic resource that is made available by the WVU Libraries or that is accessible through library workstations.

3.3. A Library workstation is a workstation that is physically located in and/or maintained by the WVU Libraries or a laptop that is checked out from one of the libraries.


4.      Content of Internet Resources

4.1. The WVU Libraries urge library patrons to be informed consumers and carefully evaluate information obtained via the Internet.

4.2. The WVU Libraries do not and cannot control the information content available through global resources such as information obtained from outside sources via the Internet. The following should be kept in mind when evaluating information obtained via the Internet:

4.2.1.      Information obtained via the Internet may or may not be accurate and reliable and may or may not be obtained from a reliable source.

4.2.2.      Links to information on the Internet may not always be valid, and particular information sites on the Internet may sometimes be unavailable and this unavailability often occurs unpredictably.

4.2.3.      The WVU Libraries are not responsible for damages, indirect or direct, arising from a library patron's use of electronic information resources.


5.      Library Patrons’ Rights

5.1. Library patrons have the right to confidentiality and privacy in the use of electronic information to the extent possible, given certain constraints such as proximity of other patrons and staff in public settings, security weaknesses inherent in electronic communications, and the library's need to conduct periodic use studies.

5.2. Library patrons have the right of equitable access to electronic information networks in support of the educational, research, and public service mission of the University, subject to the constraints of equipment availability.


6.      Library Patrons' Responsibilities

6.1. Library electronic resources are distributed via the campus network. Therefore, use of library-provided network connections falls under the campus-wide policy of computing, network access and use. The WVU Libraries require that library patrons using electronic information networks such as the Internet do so within the guidelines of acceptable and responsible use. Acceptable and responsible use of Library computing and communications facilities and services requires that all users:

6.1.1.      Respect the legal protection provided by copyright and license to programs and data.

6.1.2.      Respect the rights of others by complying with all University policies regarding intellectual property.

6.1.3.      Demonstrate common courtesy by not disrupting others or overusing system resources or equipment.

6.2. Breach of Policy Violations of any aspect of this policy may result in the temporary or permanent loss of privileges. For questions about the Electronic Information Policy for Library Users, contact the Dean of Libraries. 

November 2019