Orlando Park Library under fire for porn policy

by Public Libraries on November 11, 2013

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Orland Park Public Library, which is located in a suburb in Chicago, is now changing its policies for accessing certain types of material. It will now make it mandatory for adults to show identification if they would like to access the adult section of the library, which is where they can surf the web and look at any legal material, including pornography. This is a change from the previous policy, which only required users to sign in using their library card information, which could easily have been faked. They feel that this will make the library a safer place while still allowing visitors to enjoy their First Amendment rights to free speech.

Bridget Bittman, who is a spokeswoman for the library, said that the library is still reviewing its policies as of right now. This is a result of patrons confronting the library’s officials at a recent board meeting. They felt that the internet policies of this library were not similar enough to those of other libraries in surrounding communities. Those libraries, which include Tinley Park, Frankford and Mokena, do not allow pornography viewing of any kind on their computers. This confrontation was even recorded and posted online, gaining thousands of viewers in only a short amount of time.

Although there are some libraries with opposite policies, there are also many libraries in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs that do share similar internet policies to those at Orlando Park. There’s no general consensus between area libraries, they normally choose their internet policies as they see fit. Emily Knox, who is an assistant professor at the University of Illinois Graduate School of Library and Information Science, stated that porn is a legally protected speech; this is a big reason why it’s difficult for a lot of libraries to make the decision to filter it out.

Bittman recently stated that a number of calls have been coming in to the library, and they are a mix of supportive and opposed. There are even some individuals handing out fliers outside of the library with the words “sex crimes in the library” on them. This is upsetting many patrons, including two women who recently came in to become members. They decided against joining when they read the information that was on the fliers.

There have only been three police reports filed with the library in the last 12 years that are related to patrons using porn sites. One of these was an unfounded claim, the other was a child viewing porn in the primary room and the last is still under investigation. Many people, including local resident Polly Pellicer-Steel, feel that all libraries should ban pornography. She stated that this will keep predators away instead of welcoming them. Bittman says that their number one goal is to keep children safe, which is why this new policy is being put in place. She also said that library patrons can report people looking at materials that offends them. The next board meeting for the library is November 18th, and it should draw in a large crowd.

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