Librarians Protest Mandated Internet Filters For Library Computers

kiyomi writes "Proposed legislation would require libraries in Tallahassee, Fl to install Internet filters on public computers to block pornography and other obscene images. Full article"

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46% get no federal money

I am not in favor of filters unless the LOCAL community decides they want them. However the article relates that 46% of Florida's libraries get no federal grant money. I can't believe it is because they oppose filters. I wonder if they just don't have the staff available to write the grant applications.


Heck when it came to a big chunk of change vs. filters I think I would have to take the filters and the money - at least if I managed my local library in Florida.

Re:46% get no federal money

The federal grant money referred to is the e-rate for internet connections. Unfortunately, for most of the libraries in Florida the cost to purchase filters and have the staff to be able to disable them upon patron request costs more than the e-rate refund. The proposed bills have even more costly provisions which make it impossible for any library to be in compliance. The choice is to cut services, materials, public internet access. Florida's Constitution has a home rule provision which means that local communities are to decide issues like this. The legislature is also forbidden from imposing unfunded mandates on local communities according to a formula. This is a local issue already decided in our local communities by citizen groups. Some filter, some don't, some use a combination of filters, policy and staff. Florida's libraries already take care in protecting our children by librarians working with parents, community members and governing bodies. The level of complaints re: Internet by patrons for all Florida libraries is less than .001 percent of nearly 67,000,000 library visits. Librarians already adhere to Florida law regarding the display of obscene material and child pornography. There is nothing to fix. The proposed legislation is unnecessary.

Re:46% get no federal money

The proposed legislation is unnecessary.


There's no such thing as "unnecessary legislation" during an election year.

Filtering

Since when is professional responsibiity governed by statistics or federal money. The article also does not elaborate on how local libraries handle the issue. It would seem that the elected officials in Florida must sense that there is a need for legislation in the filtering issue.

The library should be a family friendly place. Why is it that vice driven establishments in the alcohol and adult entertainment industries are governed by legislation and regulations and there seems such a difficulty to maintain such logic and reason when it comes to the web. After all the unsavory web sites are just a cyberspace version of adult entertainment venues.

Pr0n and other obscenities?

This (from the article) is a misnomer:

... would require libraries in Tallahassee, Fl to install Internet filters on public computers to block pornography and other obscene images.

Sexually graphic/explicit images (whether still or video) may be, as a class, ruled indecent, but pornography does not equal obscenity. This has already been established in the Supreme Court and many, many lower courts. And "indecent" expression is just as protected as "decent" ones, except for broadcast distribution.

Re:...unless the LOCAL community decides they want

Ahh, but THERE is the problem. Many local communities plead and protest and appeal... and the local library STILL does just what they want.

See Topeka Shawnee County Public Library for an example!!!

Libraries don't need a mandate to fight porn

http://www.tallahassee.com/mld/democrat/news/opini on/8440621.htmFilter fumbleLibraries don't need a mandate to fight pornA TALLAHASSEE DEMOCRAT EDITORIALOnce again, the Legislature wants to force public libraries to installfilters on computers with Internet access. And once again, it's a bad idea.Let's be clear: No one wants kids to be exposed to pornographic materialthat is all too available on the Web. But this proposal is an unfundedmandate for Florida's libraries - an estimated $1.36 million in start-upmoney alone.At the local level, libraries already use a number of techniques designed toprotect their young patrons, including staff monitoring and separatecomputers for children.Besides, the problem the Legislature presumes to solve is far from epidemic:According to the Florida Library Association, there were only 569 complaintsabout offensive images on library computers out of almost 67 million libraryvisits in Florida last year. That includes complaints from libraries withand without Internet filters.The library association also points out that most commonly availableInternet filters don't do much to block pornographic images because thetechnology is text-based.The best tools are watchfulness on the part of libraries and education foryoung computer users. Parents can teach their children how to usekid-specific Internet search engines, and many search engines can beadjusted to screen objectionable material. So why force a measure that couldcost Florida's libraries an estimated $1.36 million in start-up money alone?This feel-good gesture is ultimately an empty one.

Reality check....please

misseli - Respectfully, this legalese is simply used to obfuscate. Pornography, obscene, indecent, decent, etc.. Would you honestly give this explanation to a concerned parent at the circulation desk? Will a JD soon be as important as an MLS for our profession?

Simple question. If I were to visit your library, would I find any print publication on the shelves that would provide a photo of a "gang bang". Seriously.

Re:Reality check....please

I work in tech services at a large research library. There may well be graphic material on 'gang bangs' in locked stacks, but I honestly would/do not know. For the sake of Human Sexuality or Cinema scholars, perhaps there should be, but that's easy for me to say since I'm not likely to be the bibliographer in charge of such a subject area.If I were confronting a concerned parent, I would have to go into more legalese: the 'harmful to minors' standard, which holds that some otherwise protected material is not protected when access by those under the age of 17. As a legal standard, I think it is more ill-defined than obscenity, but it is a legal standard. A lot of what's considered 'indecent' would be probably considered 'harmful to minors' but that hasn't been officially established in a court of law.And yes, it is legalese, but I don't believe it's obfuscating. Simply put, no one -- without exception -- has the right to create, distribute or even view obscene matter. I may find porn personally offensive, but it cannot be said that no one has the right to view it -- it's been established in the law over and over again. Which is why I commented in the first place: I expect a news organization to be able to discern between cultural/community values and legal standards.Lastly, I'm the wrong person to ask if MLSs will also need JDs ... I'm considering law school after I finish library school (which may or may not be a comfort to you at this point ...).

Re:Libraries don't need a mandate to fight porn

>>But this proposal is an unfunded mandate for Florida's libraries - an estimated $1.36 million in start-up money alone.

So are wheelchair ramps, ADA workstations, state pensions for library workers and liability insurance to name a few others. Nothing new here.

>>Parents can teach their children how to use
kid-specific Internet search engines, and many search engines can be adjusted to screen objectionable material.

No argument. Provided these children have parents who care. Are the others just "SOL"?

>>Let's be clear: No one wants kids to be exposed to pornographic material that is all too available on the Web.

How do you propose to judge something as pornographic as opposed to obscene? I am repeatedly reminded that their is a discernable difference between the two aside from the latter's legality. Perhaps pocket-size Miller's Tests to carry?

Re:Reality check....please

Thanks for your thoughts.

However your answer illustrates the legal chaos posed by unfettered Web access in public libraries.

You mention that you are uncertain if any "gang bang" photos can be found in your stacks. I would say the same for my library. From this we both can assume that children and "gang bang" photos will unlikely cross paths in our libraries. Agreed?

However, you and I could can both produce these photos within a minute from our filter-free workstations. Therein lies the elephant in the room that this profession simply will not discuss with candor. Libraries have changed.

Old school librarians, pre-1990's, didn't need to be versed in this legalese as you aptly explain above. They knew what they had because they approved it. The Internet represents the first and only library resource offered without the professional consideration of a librarian.

If you do pursue law, I hope your motivation is something other than a skill you perceive to need as a librarian. I wish you well.

clarification

>>How do you propose to judge something as pornographic as opposed to obscene? I am repeatedly reminded that their is a discernable difference between the two aside from the latter's illegality.

Unless, of course, we are speaking of child pornography.

Re:Libraries don't need a mandate to fight porn

All the items you listed as state unfunded mandates are federal except pensions and NOT all librarians that work for cities and counties are part of the State retirement system. Many govts have opted out. The state constitution does not allow unfunded mandates of a certain magnitude which this is at. Librarians in Florida are talking about turning the Internet off if this passes so we can still purchase books. Also the co-sponsor of this bill is from Marion County where they want to set up a committee to read every book in the library and purge out any that are not wholesome. If this passes we will be facing a bill like that next year.The legislature is requiring librarians to judge what is obscene from pornographic or we can be fined $100 per day (our library). We have no way to do so.This is a local issue and local communities have decided what they wish to do. Florida is a home rule state.

Re:Libraries don't need a mandate to fight porn

An unfunded mandate, whether state or federal, still costs the same. Correct?

What you are intimating is that it's not the principle of filtering, but that they are not subsidized. Get in line with that complaint. Public libraries in our state have been recently told they must use OCLC for bib records. Expensive yes, but quality control. Just like those filters.

As for judging what is obscene and porn, I suggest posting this a question here at LISNews. Many of the anti-filter crowd tell me this is easy to discern.

I hope moderating my comments as a "troll"...

has made someone feel better, truth notwithstanding.

Here is to doubling your pleasure.

An unfunded mandate, whether state or federal, still costs the same. Correct?

What you are intimating is that it's not the principle of filtering, but that they are not subsidized. Get in line with that complaint. Public libraries in our state have been recently told they must use OCLC for bib records. Expensive yes, but quality control. Just like those filters.

As for judging what is obscene and porn, I suggest posting this a question here at LISNews. Many of the anti-filter crowd tell me this is easy to discern.

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