Saturday, February 19, 2011

Tacoma Library Crime Rampant; Library Director Once Chased Pedophile Out of the Library and Across a Parking Lot While Wearing Her High Heels; Library Itself Partly to Blame and May Be Committing Fraud

Crime is rampant in the Tacoma Public Library, Tacoma, WA.  See "Keeping Tacoma Libraries Safe a Challenge," by Rob Carson, The News Tribune, 18 February 2011.  But the library itself may be partly to blame and may be committing fraud.

Here is what is reported:

  • a man exposing himself and masturbating in front of a 4-year-old at the Wheelock Library in the Proctor District
  • issues with drugs, alcohol, personal hygiene and mental illness
  • people having sex in the vestibule
  • a woman selling drugs out of the bottom of a baby carriage
  • [i]n the stacks, ... a patron slide his hand up [the library director's] bare leg
  • chased a pedophile out a library door and across a parking lot while wearing her high heels
  • stayed past closing time on innumerable occasions, waiting for parents to come and pick up their kids
  • [l]ast year’s incident reports from the main library make a stack of paper 8 inches high
  • daily routine of waking up sleepers, rousting abusive drunks, interrupting drug sales
  • book thefts
  • assaults
  • patrons ... openly masturbating as they watch porn on computer monitors
  • teenagers who gather after school, acting aggressively and scaring off other patrons
  • Police were called to the library 16 times last year to deal with crimes that ranged from trespassing to assault
  • A decade ago, the main library was the center of a thriving drug and prostitution marketplace on Tacoma Avenue.  Every few weeks, library maintenance workers had to pump the restroom plumbing to clear pipes clogged with hypodermic needles.
  • Crowds of homeless people gathered in front of the library each morning, waiting for the doors to open.

Here is what is not reported: the crime may be partly the library's own fault, and the library itself may be acting in an illegal fashion.

I have no physical access to the Tacoma Public Library but from what the documentary evidence presents, it appears the library is defrauding the federal government and taxpayers nationally.  Here is the evidence:

  1. the rampant crime as reported above,
  2. the library's "Policy for Public Use of the Internet":  "This 'Condition of Use' statement will be shown on the screen when a user logs on to selected Internet services.  Acceptance of the conditions will be indicated when the user clicks the 'I agree' button,"
  3. the library's "Board of Trustees Minutes; April 21, 2010":  "Director Odencrantz explained that one of the attributes of being in compliance with the Supreme Court’s ruling was for an adult to be able to disable the filter (it is required).  TPL did not have a way of doing this prior, however the library’s recently purchased Envisionware software allows on request for an adult person to disable the filter,"
  4. the Children's Internet Protection Act [CIPA]:  "An authorized person may disable the blocking or filtering measure during any use by an adult to enable access for bona fide research or other lawful purposes,"
  5. the case finding CIPA constitutional:  US v. American Library Association, 539 U.S. 194 (2003), and
  6. the amount of funding received by the library under CIPA for "Internet Access", namely, $55,200 in 2010, $59,078.40 + $1,631.25 in 2009, $55,200 + $1,631.25 in 2008, $38,412.10 + 1,631.52 in 2007, $39,575.62 + 1,631.52 in 2006, $15,824.64 + $23,400.00 in 2005, and $14,200.00 + $8,160.60 in 2004, the first funding year following US v. ALA.  The total is $315,576.90.

Simply put, to obtain funding under CIPA, an adult must request an "authorized person" to disable Internet filters.  Adults may not unblock filters for themselves.  Yet library policy and library Board of Trustee minutes show that adults may unblock filters for themselves.  That violates CIPA.  Yet the library collected $315,576.90 under CIPA.  The money would not have been granted had it been made known that patrons may unfilter the filters for themselves, else why even have the law and the resultant litigation in the first place.

Adults unfiltering filters for themselves has helped foster the environment where "patrons [were] openly masturbating as they watch porn on computer monitors."  In other words, the library may have helped cause the very crimes of which it complains, and it may have done this as a result of its violating CIPA and defrauding the public of $315,576.90.

The Tacoma Public Library has joined other public libraries that have used CIPA to defraud the American public.

I will say one thing in favor of the library, however.  The library is the first I've seen to put into writing that privacy screens do not work:  "The Library also recognizes that ... the use of partitions and other devices to shield Internet terminals will only reduce the field of view while still allowing the open public display of sexually explicit images...."  The American Library Association tries to promote privacy screens as a substitute for Internet filters.  That is demonstrably false, but it is nice to see it written right into library policy.

Anyone care to comment below on my opinion above?



  1. So do you claim to have a definition of "authorized?" It's not defined in CIPA.

  2. Incidents like these also occur in libraries that filter. How do you explain their occurance if failure to filter can't be blamed?

  3. Anonymouses, thanks for commenting. My definition? My explanation? It is irrelevant except to myself what I think, especially when addressing hypothetical questions. Let's keep the focus on the issues raised, not on the person raising the issues. Thanks.

  4. so you admit that you cannot correlate filtering or lack thereof to crimes commited in libraries? Excellent! I agree that such an assertation is tenuous and reckless.


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