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Old 07-21-2010, 06:05 PM
 
Location: texas
2,897 posts, read 1,835,473 times
Reputation: 1634
Quote:
Originally Posted by stanman13 View Post
There should be very little, if any, restriction on what is available in a public library. So yes, I think porn should be accessible on the computers. The library could install those screen covers that prevent viewing from off-angles.

I understand that some material should not be easily available to minors. That is why most libraries have an "adult" section and a "children's" section. The computers in the children's section could be internet-restricted. They are in my local library, which I think is a good one. It works well.

Agree with you here. Yes to the question of it, but seperate it from other areas....

 
Old 07-21-2010, 06:23 PM
 
Location: N of citrus, S of decent corn
16,548 posts, read 19,163,588 times
Reputation: 25172
Ok, why SHOULD there be porn permitted in libraries? If a perv can't afford his own computer at home, then I doubt he is supporting the library through his taxes. So I say let him just jerk off the old fashioned way. Am I supposed to care if some homeless person doesn't have access to porn at the library?
Here's what worries me, though...suppose you are doing legitimate research on something innocent, like maybe breast cancer, and the library gestapo throws you out for viewing porn? After all, porn is in the eye of the beholder.
Truly, aren't the library computers meant for school children? Adults can buy one at home and look at whatever they wish.
 
Old 07-22-2010, 08:10 PM
 
Location: Bay Area, CA
24,777 posts, read 27,778,402 times
Reputation: 11616
I am a librarian who used to work at (and manage) public libraries, so figured I should jump into this debate. The bottom line is this... public libraries are for the PUBLIC, and we CANNOT restrict or monitor what people do on an adult-access computer (those in the children's area have different rules). We simply can't ask a member of the public to restrict their viewing, especially as the American Library Association doesn't support filtering or censorship. Think about this - If a patron feels homosexuality is immoral or "disgusting," would you support me asking a patron to exit a gay dating site they're viewing? Or if they hate Christianity, should I block all Christian-related sites to avoid disturbing them? And what if a patron's flipping through a nude-figure art book, and somebody finds that offensive? Do you see what I'm getting at?

So here's what most public libraries believe, and how we handle this situation. If you're an adult (over 18) on the general access computers, you can do and view whatever you like... as long as you're not causing a disturbance to other patrons. If somebody is viewing "inappropriate material" on a computer that is easily seen by other patrons, AND somebody lodges a complaint, we can ask them to move (to a less visible computer) or refrain from viewing such sites. They are not required to oblige, however... but if they put up a verbal or physical fight we can then ban them, either temporarily or permanently, for threatening and/or disturbing patrons & staff. Truth is, most people are embarrassed when we approach them about this subject, and will exit the site before we even have to ask. But somebody will always be offended by everything, whether it's nudity, religion, politics, or cute fluffy kittens.

There's also something we call the "digital divide," which means people without the ability to buy a computer & internet service are disadvantaged socially & educationally - so we try our best to bridge/eliminate that gap. If you can view porn on a home computer, people without home access should be allowed the same advantage. Furthermore, I hate the slippery slope theories, but in this case it actually does apply... because where do you draw the line, how do you determine what is vulgar vs artistic, does censoring one area lead to overall censorship, etc. etc. Does that make sense?

It's a tricky situation, but this is why we're specially trained with advanced degrees in library science... you also have to learn to separate your personal feelings, which is difficult for most folks regardless of their education or beliefs. Just imagine how I felt, as a Jewish woman, when we had two regular "Aryan Nation" patrons who frequently asked me for disgusting material. I still had to provide them with the information, as long as it wasn't illegal, since that is my job as a public librarian. We also have to remain professional and neutral, so boy did I have to bite my tongue with those guys!! There was only one time I refused to help them, but went on to refer them to a legal library instead... they wanted information on "personally detaining illegals with force," and I felt the line was too fuzzy legally speaking.

P.S. This also relates to another issue, which we discussed in library school - public meeting sites. Most libraries offer public meeting spaces, which are free and open to any non-profit groups... but what would you do if the local KKK wanted to use it? That actually happened in one state, and they did allow the group to meet - leading to violent protests and change in the policy, stating that you can only reject a group if they will most likely cause a major public disturbance. Clever, huh?

Last edited by gizmo980; 07-22-2010 at 08:39 PM..
 
Old 07-22-2010, 08:16 PM
 
Location: Bay Area, CA
24,777 posts, read 27,778,402 times
Reputation: 11616
P.P.S. Now doing anything as you view porn (masturbating, touching yourself, etc) is NOT acceptable in any way shape or form... if we see that happening, which does come up occasionally, you will be swiftly removed and given a temporary ban. That is against the law in public, whether you're in a library or not.
 
Old 07-22-2010, 08:35 PM
 
Location: Bay Area, CA
24,777 posts, read 27,778,402 times
Reputation: 11616
Quote:
Originally Posted by gentlearts View Post
Ok, why SHOULD there be porn permitted in libraries? If a perv can't afford his own computer at home, then I doubt he is supporting the library through his taxes. So I say let him just jerk off the old fashioned way.
As stated above, you are not allowed to DO anything inappropriate in a library... or any public place, for that matter. As for the tax contribution, it's not our place to determine who's contributing what, and it would be unconstitutional to restrict access to those who aren't paying. That's the whole point of public institutions, after all.

Quote:
Am I supposed to care if some homeless person doesn't have access to porn at the library?
The homeless patrons rarely use the computers, and it's usually "normal" looking men who are guilty of viewing porn - no women that I've ever witnessed, although I'm sure it does happen. Here in San Francisco, our homeless patrons usually just want a warm place to rest, and occasionally think our bathrooms are for bathing (we don't allow that). They rarely cause a problem, aside from offending people with their lack of hygiene, or coming in a little tipsy.


Quote:
Here's what worries me, though...suppose you are doing legitimate research on something innocent, like maybe breast cancer, and the library gestapo throws you out for viewing porn? After all, porn is in the eye of the beholder.
Exactly. We had one patron who was a PhD professor of human sexuality, and at that particular library there were city-mandated filters that blocked anything sexual... he lodged many formal complaints with me & the city, eventually getting them to remove the filters altogether (which I agreed with 100%).

Quote:
Truly, aren't the library computers meant for school children? Adults can buy one at home and look at whatever they wish.
Nope, and most libraries have more adult/general computers than child-designated ones... I'd say 75% of the computer users are over 18, and it's actually children who have more access at home & school. Libraries are for people of all ages, and it's more often the adults who need free access.
 
Old 07-22-2010, 08:45 PM
 
Location: Bay Area, CA
24,777 posts, read 27,778,402 times
Reputation: 11616
Quote:
Originally Posted by library1 View Post
It is one thing to allow pornographic material in books and films, a reader or viewer can CHOOSE to open the book or walk into a movie theater.
However, children and bystanders cannot protect themselves or CHOOSE to avert their vision from pornographic material viewed by others on public computers, because those monitors are facing out into a public space where everyone of all ages is walking freely, not expecting to look up and see someone watching an inappropriate movie.
Most libraries have a few "limited view" computers, and we'll move anyone viewing questionable material to those... if all monitors are easily viewed, we do keep a closer watch on who's able to see what.

Quote:
I will defend freedom from censorship to the end, but in a place where we are encouraging our children to go to to feel safe and to learn, it is understandable to limit internet browsing so our children (and heck, ourselves too) aren't inadvertently exposed to pornographic material.
See, you're actually contradicting yourself here... limiting access is the same as censorship, and injecting your personal beliefs also contradicts the concept of censorship. Either you support it or you don't, but you can't pick and choose what should be censored vs allowed. It's tough, I know!

Quote:
Do we really want to encourage people coming to a public library for the purpose of becoming aroused?
Encouraging and allowing are two different things... we don't encourage, but we do allow viewing of anything legally accessed online.

Btw, most (except the tiniest) libraries have a separate children's area, which is much more carefully monitored and restricted. In fact, you can't even COME into the children's area without a child, if you're over the age of 18 - so you can keep them in there if you're worried about catching a view of adult materials.
 
Old 07-22-2010, 08:52 PM
 
20,293 posts, read 15,482,258 times
Reputation: 9369
I think libraries should give access to the entire web on their computers. BUT, I also think that the world wide web should be treated as a public area, and as such anything not allowed in public should not be on the web, including porn and other indecent content.
 
Old 07-22-2010, 11:11 PM
 
Location: Bay Area, CA
24,777 posts, read 27,778,402 times
Reputation: 11616
Quote:
Originally Posted by NJBest View Post
I think libraries should give access to the entire web on their computers. BUT, I also think that the world wide web should be treated as a public area, and as such anything not allowed in public should not be on the web, including porn and other indecent content.
You're allowed to read a Playboy in public, right? To clarify something I didn't say earlier, I don't think any libraries allow watching pornographic video in public areas... that would be crossing a legal line, but viewing pornographic images are another thing altogether. Btw, what do you consider to be "indecent content?" And do you believe everyone would agree with your distinctions?
 
Old 07-22-2010, 11:40 PM
 
20,293 posts, read 15,482,258 times
Reputation: 9369
Quote:
Originally Posted by gizmo980 View Post
You're allowed to read a Playboy in public, right? To clarify something I didn't say earlier, I don't think any libraries allow watching pornographic video in public areas... that would be crossing a legal line, but viewing pornographic images are another thing altogether. Btw, what do you consider to be "indecent content?" And do you believe everyone would agree with your distinctions?
That's a good question regarding what is indecent and what is not. I don't have the answer because I don't even know how the rules are made up regarding what's allowed at public places. If it's too indecent for a shopping mall, then it's probably too indecent for the web. I hate that the web, which is a very useful tool for so many things, has a huge amount of porn all over the place.

The web should be a safe place to exchange information and ideas. Porn and other unsafe/indecent material should be allowed somewhere else. Not on the web.

Also, the library is funded by either public money or money from a private institution for a specific purpose. It should only supply media/info which serves the public in such a manner that a library should. I'd focus on the education, literature and various arts. Less on entertainment.

Last edited by NJBest; 07-22-2010 at 11:50 PM..
 
Old 07-23-2010, 06:18 AM
 
Location: Brooklyn
40,060 posts, read 19,377,479 times
Reputation: 10110
I think everything should be available at public libraries. It's public, after all. The problem is that a lot of people simply don't know how to mind their own business; they're not happy unless they're telling someone else what to do or not to do. If you're at the library and you see something you take to be pornographic, stay away from it. You want to teach your children to think that way, fine. But what someone else chooses to read is not your concern.
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