Unattended Children


The library is a fun and enriching place, but like most busy public places it may present hazards for unsupervised children. For the protection and well-being of children who enjoy libraries, the following policy and safety tips have been established:


San Mateo County Library welcomes children of all ages to use library resources and attend programs; however, parents and guardians need to be aware that staff cannot be responsible for unattended children.

Young children are not to be left alone in the library at any time. School age children and young teens should not be left unattended for extended periods of time. Anyone who does not adhere to the public behavior standards will be asked to leave the library. If children are not picked up by library closing time, police may be called at the discretion of the staff.

This policy is intended for the protection and safety of the children of this community.

Safety Tips

Because children develop and mature at different rates, there is no magic age at which all children are ready to cope with the variety of circumstances they may face alone in the library. Library staff will use their judgment and discretion in determining whether or not an unattended child is vulnerable or at-risk. To ensure positive library experiences for your children please follow these guidelines:

  • Parents and caregivers should be familiar with the library’s hours of operation and make advanced arrangements to pick up children prior to closing.
  • Make sure your children have what they need while in the library including emergency contact information, a cell phone or money to make a call, their Library cards and supplies to do homework.
  • Review the Library Behavior Standards and make sure your child knows and can follow them. It is important for everyone, children and adults, to have a clear understanding of appropriate library behavior and show consideration for others. Anyone who does not follow these standards may be asked to leave and/or denied access to the library.
  • As in any public place, remind your children that it is not wise to talk to adults or older children they do not know.
  • Make visits a family affair. Accompany your children to the Library to help them choose books, use the computers, or attend a program.