Going Further on Cell Phone Policy

Milwaukee (WI) Journal reports: Oak Creek - Staff at the public library here are talking about the possibility of buying equipment that could block all cell phone use in the building.

City Librarian Ross Talis said Tuesday that staff has been discussing the option for several months and might decide by summer whether to present a proposal to the Library Board.

Talis, who doesn't own a cell, said a phone blocker is being considered because of "a lot of patron complaints about use of cell phones in the library."

Library policy already prohibits cell use in the building, but some patrons still talk on their phones, he said.


>Staff at the public library here are talking about the possibility of buying equipment that could block all cell phone use in the building.

I am pretty sure that there are FCC regulations that prohibit this.

Although I must say that I disagree with the regulations. I think you should be able to jam cell phones on your own property.


I might agree with your last sentence, if it wasn't illegal and if this was private property. But the library is public property, not private. And thinking as a circulation staff that has had many patrons threaten our staff, it's not a good idea to physically block cell phones. Many emergencies and threatening situations could arise where landlines aren't the best option. And many police, fire, and medical personnel use cell phones as a means of communication. If they were responding to an emergency situation at the library, they would lose that communication the moment they step foot inside the library.

There are differences between regulations made by the Commission and statutes the Congress has adopted. This is a statutory thing, not just a regulatory issue.
Stephen Michael Kellat, MSLS

If you are going to bother to comment why not cite the statutes you are referring to?

From an NYT article:

"Using the jammers is illegal in the United States. The radio frequencies used by cellphone carriers are protected, just like those used by television and radio broadcasters.

The Federal Communication Commission says people who use cellphone jammers could be fined up to $11,000 for a first offense. Its enforcement bureau has prosecuted a handful of American companies for distributing the gadgets — and it also pursues their users."


I'll let the Enforcement Bureau at the FCC speak for themselves:
Stephen Michael Kellat, MSLS

This very issue was covered in an earlier story, here: http://www.lisnews.org/node/12175

Has there been discussion on cell phones before on LISNEWS? Yes. But the story is that a library in Wisconsin is looking into it. If the core concept behind a story can never be discussed again we might as well shut LISNEWS down. We have already discussed librarians, libraries, books, authors, publishing, ebooks, etc....

Cool we are done. Blake pull the plug on this baby we got everything covered.

Overreact much lately?


I bet our faculty would love to have a cell phone blocker in their classrooms.

This is not just a library problem, at least not on my campus. People -- students -- are just rude and will answer their cell phone anywhere, even in the middle of class (where they've been told to turn them off) or in the middle of the library -- which has "Turn Cell Phones Off" signs and "Quiet Please" signs all over.

Not sure about the legality, but devices like this sure would help. Tempting...so very tempting.

Jamming any transmitter is a bad thing. This has been enshrined in US law for three quarters of a century. While preventing the use of cell phones in a library is perhaps a noble goal, undertaking a wrong like this does not make a right.

Having the MLS does not equate to a get out of jail free card. This drastic solution is not just wrong but has interesting financial penalties among others attached if attempted. The awful question attached to this would be whether the library agency would be whacked with responsibility or if individual employees get hit personally.

Any patron affected by this need merely call 1-888-CALL-FCC to register a complaint. Then again, affected patrons should call anyhow and mention that there is a news article already out there where somebody is even talking about this. A gentle warning from an enforcement officer before implementation would be for the best.
Stephen Michael Kellat, MSLS

>Any patron affected by this need merely call 1-888-CALL-FCC

If the jammers are in place they will need to leave the library with their cellphones to make this call.

every time I go into my local Target store, the signal drops to nothing. you never see anyone on a cell in that Target... it might be blocked by the internal radio signals or something else, but it's blocked.

but if you can cover your library with wire mesh and stucco, maybe that will do the job... because it won't violate the FCC rule against 'transmitters'

I think its been illegal to do that for 75 years or so.

Its covered under the Communications Act of 1934. It was later ammended in the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

im a student in the 10th grade and i think you shouldnt block cell phone cause what if a family member is dying and you need to get in contact with them but your not close to a school phone or there's a fire and you need to call 911. that's all i got to say.


So is that the only thing you use your cell phone for? Just to contact a dying family member or to call the fire department? I'm sure you use your phone for the same reason most people of all ages do - conversation, playing games, surfing the internet, and text messaging. Obviously you wouldn't be able to do those things if the cell phone signals were blocked, and that's why you're against it.

If there were really a fire, there would be plenty of phones in the building that people could call from. Or someone could run outside the school (since you don't want to stay inside a burning building anyway) and make the call there. Family emergencies can be handled by having your parents call the office, and the office will page you.

we have increased knowledge about emergencies and dangerous situations at school when it goes into "lockdown" mode. in those cases you are supposed to enter the nearest classroom and listen to the teacher for instructions. the landline phones in my school are all right next to the doors, which would make it extremely dangerous for anyone to use. a cell phone would be with you and you can use it virtually anywhere. this is an extreme situation but these emergencies have become more frequent and are often written about in the news.

is it certain that these cell phone jammers don't also interfere with medical equipment (such as pacemakers)?

In the case of a public library, it would be very easy to leave the building and make your call. I can't imagine even in the busiest, and largest, public libraries that this would take more than 10 minutes. In my library (admittedly small) you could be outside in less than 5.

Emergeny calls can be made by a regular land line at the circ desk. Which might be better than a cell phone since your location will immediately be displayed.