Safeguarding Children in Libraries: From safety and inclusion to belonging

Children are among the most vulnerable users of public spaces, including public libraries. As trusted community hubs, libraries have a crucial role in safeguarding the well-being and security of children who visit these spaces. Child safety in a library setting plays a crucial role in fostering a sense of belonging among young patrons.
However, child safety in a library setting is not just about physical protection; it encompasses emotional and psychological well-being as well. When children feel safe, respected, and valued in the library, they are more likely to develop a deep and lasting sense of belonging. This sense of belonging, in turn, enhances their engagement with library resources, encourages a love for learning, and often translates into a lifelong relationship with the library and its services.
This abstract provides an overview of a conference lightning talk that explores the multifaceted aspects of safeguarding children in libraries leading to inclusion and belonging. It will touch on what Libraries Tasmania has implemented to safeguard children across its public library network with a particular emphasis on lessons learned from the Commission of Inquiry into the Tasmanian Government’s responses to child sexual abuse in institutional settings.
Libraries have evolved into dynamic and inclusive spaces, welcoming diverse groups of users, including children and families. Consequently, the responsibility of ensuring the safety and protection of children within library premises has become paramount. This presentation will cover policies, staff training, technology and digital safety, community engagement, inclusivity and accessibility, challenges and case studies.

Lana Hegol

Senior Policy Advisor Policy and Strategic Improvement, Libraries Tasmania

Author Bio

Lana is Libraries Tasmania’s Senior Policy Advisor. This multifaceted role encompasses a range of responsibilities that demonstrate her extensive expertise in policy development. Her dedication to overseeing Libraries Tasmania’s policy framework ensures that it remains a guiding force in the pursuit of excellence.
Lana began her policy career in Tasmania’s vocational education and training sector before securing a role as Libraries Tasmania’s Senior Policy Advisor in 2012. Lana’s contributions have made her a key figure in shaping Libraries Tasmania’s policy framework, including ensuring it aligns with broader Department for Education, Children and Young People policies and associated frameworks as well as supporting the development of libraries as vital community resources. In her policy role, Lana works collaboratively to ensure Libraries Tasmania’s policies enable library users to have the same, quality experience no matter which of the 45 statewide public library sites they are visiting.
Lana is committed to evidence-based policy development. Through her studies, training and on-the-job experience in a library and archives context, she has the ability to collaborate and harness the collective wisdom of experts in her field. This ensures Libraries Tasmania’s policies, procedure and guidelines are widely understood, informed by best practice and subject-matter experts while ensuring they effectively serve the Tasmanian community.
Following the recent Commission of Inquiry into the Tasmanian Government’s responses to child sexual abuse in institutional settings, Lana had a critical role to ensure relevant Libraries Tasmania’s policy documents included effective child safeguarding considerations.