Public libraries should filter porn on library computers

by Public Libraries on January 31, 2012

Shh

Seattlepi.com reported today that a woman with her kids at the Lake City Branch of the Seattle Public Library complained when she saw a man watching porn on a computer with a screen that could be seen from the information desk of the library.  She asked a librarian to ask the man to move to a more private area and the librarian refused stating that “the library doesn’t censor content”.  The woman, Julie Howe, said that one of her daughters (ages 7 and 10) saw what the man was watching.

The amazing thing to note is that the Washington State Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that libraries have the right to filter the content on their computers.  So the Seattle Public Library is fully supporting the viewing of porn on their computers even though they have the right to filter it.

Librarians have been supporting the viewing of porn on library computers all in the name of freedom of speech.  Libraries pride themselves on being a place where ideas can be shared in an environment free of censorship.  The Seattle incident has been echoed across numerous libraries across the country over the years.  So far, most librarians are siding with the people that want to watch porn at the library.

Libraries offer so many great programs for children and teens.  Librarians love children.  They offer tutoring and other valuable resources.  Parents love knowing that their kids have a safe place to go after school.  How is it possible that librarians are willingly exposing those children to porn in the same building?

I understand the free speech, non-censorship stand, but isn’t this a little ridiculous?  Libraries are public places.  You can’t setup a tv and watch a porn movie at the park.  You can’t watch porn on your laptop at the playground.  Driving around with a porn movie on a tv in your car can land you in jail.  If you’re at a company and you’re watching porn on your computer, you will almost definitely get charged with sexual harassment and will end up getting fired.

Library leadership all over the country needs to step up and implement policies that keep porn off library computers.  If the Supreme Court ends up ruling that they have to provide porn then libraries should at least move unfiltered computers to a private section that requires ID and proof of age to use.  That’s what any decent establishment would do.

We need to be able to introduce our children to the joy of reading and the value of libraries without having to introduce them to porn at the same time.

{ 1 comment }

Jeremiah March 17, 2012 at 9:22 pm

Totally agree. This is such a sticky issue with freedom of speech and all. Libraries should be a place of freedom, but when that freedom is imposed on someone elses, like the girls seeing what the man was watching, then we have an issue. I do like the idea of having full unfiltered computers in a separate ID required section. Of course IMO I think it is gross to look at porn in public.

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