Friday, March 9, 2012

Internet Use Policies and the Public Library: The Beat Goes On

This article serves as the basis of the current small-group discussions in the UW-Madison SLIS class I'm teaching this semester. (Article not available in full text via Ebscohost.)

Congress got porn out of libraries; now locals need to, by Ernest Istook, The Heritage Foundation.  (Charlotte Observer, 2/28/2012)

Excerpt: Librarians can be strict. In Seattle, for example, you can't eat [see "sidebar" Food and Beverage Rule and Guidelines below], sleep, go barefoot or be noisy in a public library. You can, however, "watch graphic porn on a public computer in front of kids," the Seattle Post-Intelligencer recently reported. 

You don't need to be a literary expert to figure out that making computer porn available is not the highest and best use of limited public resources. And certainly patrons, whose tax payments keep the doors open, deserve better than to have their children exposed to hard-core pornography. 

As a former chairman of a metropolitan library system, I was appalled by the story from Seattle. But it didn't surprise me at all. 

Sadly, Seattle is following a strategy promoted by the American Library Association, which regards pornography as just a routine aspect of protecting the First Amendment. But they generally omit an important qualifier: When taxpayers are paying for the computers, they have a right to insist that children are protected.

Counterpoint:   Library right not to ban porn: Once a ban starts, it's hard to stop, by Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat.  (2/4/2012)

American Library Association:
Guidelines and Considerations for Developing a Public Library Internet Use Policy
Filters and Filtering.
Some things never change.

Op-ed piece also found at these locations:
Deseret News
McClatchy Washington Bureau
Orange County Register
Safe Libraries

And on a related note, the Annoyed Librarian has her say in The Poster Boy for Library Porn.

1 comment:

SafeLibraries said...

You are the very first person in the library world that I have noticed who has mentioned and linked to the CIPA author's story about the American Library Association having effective control over a third of American libraries and endangering children. BRAVO! The ALA and the Library Journal, among others, have not touched it with a ten foot pole.

Really, outstanding.