Skip to comments.Rise in porn site viewers forces library to pull Internet access
Posted on 11/27/2006 5:40:56 AM PST by cyclotic
Internet access for the public at the Mount Clemens Public Library has been revoked because of an increase in the number of people looking at sexually explicit material. Advertisement
The plug was pulled on the computers earlier this month after employees noticed a "large increase" in visitors using the free Internet service to access what the library termed obscene material in violation of library policies.
"There seemed to be a sudden increase in that kind of activity, and it was really bothering me. I thought something needed to be done," said library Director Donald E. Worrell Jr.
Library staffers acknowledge there have been complaints from people who want to use the Internet terminals for legitimate reasons, but seemed to understand the rationale once it was explained.
Worrell said his decision was difficult because public libraries encourage intellectual freedom and strive to avoid censorship. However, given the noticeable increase in pornography being displayed, Worrell said he felt action was needed.
"We have families and kids who have witnessed some of these activities going on and they were just shocked," Worrell said.
The controversy is not unique to the Mount Clemens Public Library, say experts in the library field.
"It's definitely an issue many libraries encounter," said Gretchen Couraud, executive director of the Michigan Library Association in Lansing. "The issue comes down to protecting free speech rights for adults while balancing the need to protect children from viewing the material."
Libraries can -- and do -- install filter software that can prevent pornographic material from being displayed.
But the Library Privacy Act, which went into effect in 2000, states if the facility provides public access to the Internet, there must be at least one unfiltered terminal for people 18 and older.
Furthermore, the law specifies that an adult can ask for the filter to be removed while he or she uses the terminal.
Libraries have come up with innovative methods to comply with the law and still shield minors from sexual material. Some libraries have Internet terminals in separate rooms for adults, with the children's computers having the restrictive filter system.
Others use privacy screens or "blinders" on the top of the terminals, designed to prevent passers-by from viewing the screen.
In the Sterling Heights Public Library, all computers have filters except those facing the reference desk, which are unfiltered but open to the inspection of library workers.
"We did that in response to some problems with people looking at inappropriate material," said Carol Lingeman, the head librarian. "That seems to have controlled it. Everyone in the library community has to make a decision on how to best address the situation."
In Mount Clemens, the terminals are all in public view, said Worrell.
Mount Clemens is consulting with the Macomb County Sheriff's Office and its legal firm to decide what course of action to take. Sheriff's deputies were asked to make more frequent walk-throughs of the library in an effort to discourage people from looking at pornography.
It's not clear when the Internet ban will be lifted in Mount Clemens.
"We need to find some better ways to control the public use of the Internet terminals so we don't have to worry about families coming in here and their children seeing something they shouldn't," Worrell said.
My daughter works for this library so that makes it extra important to me.
The American Library Association has to be disappointed. They believe in readily available porn and complete privacy for all ages.
I'm sure the ACLU will be filing suit shortly... 'specially for anyone wishing access to pedophilic sites.
Am I missing something? I thought libraries would have some sort of blocking software - Weblocker or other. This also block out things like Ogrish and the like.
Beware of these blocking services. At a school I worked for you could not access sites dealing with breast cancer nor could you access "extremist" websites (including Right to Life sites).
Just put the PC's in the most visible and busiest part of the library: right near the entrance with the monitors facing the entrance way and front desk.
That's about where they are. Evidently the perv's are still using them.
That won't bother some people - I used to work with a Russian contract programmer who thought nothing of viewing porn in an open work area with women passing by all day. This was at a software company who cared more about getting the project done than about PC imperatives, but people from other cultures are often extraordinarily obtuse about how such actions are perceived in America.
That's just the problem. That people are looking at this stuff in full view. I, for one, welcome the all-or-none stance over the let's-legislate-it-to-death one.
It's great that your daughter is part of a group trying to do right. But the ACLU will trump her traditional values - and porn peddlers, drunks, and criminals will ultimately win control of libraries.
It's time to close libraries down. Have you noticed library bulletin boards filled with liberal propaganda? And only liberal propaganda? Who hasn't?
And the stuff about poor kids not getting to read? Take a look at who's in the library... It would be cheaper to pay Barns & Noble money to give books to anyone under the age of 12 - three free books a year and a subsidized children's reading room in store... We'd save billions and do a better job by the children. A private bookstore will know how to keep porn out of the view of 6 year olds. Time to dump the library system -it's too little for too much.
In many cases I'd agree. Not this one. She works in the childrens library as a page (gofer) The librarian is a very nice Christian lady.
Better yet, the library did a $1.5 million upgrade last year using only funds they had been saving for the last 20 years. No new taxes, no fees, no debt.
We can get just about any book there with no problems.
A library is one of the few government institutions I can agree with.
It's not so much the porn sites as cleaning up after what they do under their raincoats.;-)
Libraries are being put out of business by the Internet but that's not stopping small city socialists from building new vanity libraries. Libraries have become similar to light rail train-sets for socialists to play with, spend other peoples money on, and order people about.
I used to love libraries, at least the ones that put the money into the books instead of the buildings. Because of the Internet I haven't been to a library in years.
"...said library Director Donald E. Worrell Jr...."
Must be related to Ernest P. Worrell.
Just don't get picked for gum duty!!
I kind of agree--my city has a new vanity library (it made national news for its leftist "mural" filled with misspellings) and the librarians sure do like to order people about. . .
HOWEVER: I have 4 children, voracious readers all, and each child has his own library card, and it is not uncommon for each child to have 100 books checked out per card (the library limit) at any one time--so our house has a constant rotation of 400 books.
We love the library. We go at least once a week to get more books, and music and DVDs too. A real money saver.
These filters can also be used to block "Free Republic" and "Little Green Footballs" as "hate sites."
Because of public libraries I haven't been to a bookstore in years.
>>Some libraries have Internet terminals in separate rooms for adults<<
Private booths. Cool!
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