Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Library Crime Spree Prompts Filtering Consideration for Library Computers

The Monroe County Public Library, Bloomington, IN, Bloomington Public Library, Bloomington, IL, has been suffering a crime spree so bad that it is finally considering using Internet filters to block out the porn.

And notice the "intellectual freedom" excuse for not filtering porn, as if viewing porn in a public library was intellectual or compliant with local library law.  CIPA author Ernest Istook was right to reveal last month that the American Library Association [ALA] misleads a third of American communities into ignoring the benefits of CIPA, thereby allowing the harm to children it was intended to stop to continue unabated, like in Bloomington.

Any why does the library director say they are "considering" using Internet filters when the library's online policy already says it does?

Because Bloomington Public Library receives federal funds for Internet access, federal law requires that all Bloomington Public Library computers have blocking or filtering software installed.  While we are mandated to filter graphic material that is obscene, child pornography, or harmful to minors, filtering technology is imperfect and the library cannot guarantee 100% accurate filtering.  Sometimes material that does not meet the above criteria is filtered, and sometimes, the filter will not block material that should be blocked.
Do a search for CIPA funding received by the library and you will find that funding stopped in 2004 after US v. ALA held CIPA constitutional in 2003.

Search results for CIPA funding for
Monroe County Public Library.
So, given the library's web site says one thing and the library's director says another, and given the crime spree that brought this story to light and the library's reaction to the crime spree, questions are raised:

  1. Has the library been misleading the public all this time?  
  2. Is the library responsible in part for the crime wave by not filtering all the while it said it was, particularly where it now states the use of Internet filters may ameliorate the situation?  
  3. Is the addition of filters now a tacit admission that its apparent adherence to American Library Association policy not to filter has been a disaster?
  4. Is the addition of filters now a tacit admission that it is responsible in part for the crime wave?
  5. What financial losses have occurred as a result of not receiving federal funding under CIPA after 2003?
  6. What are the consequences of public employees acting in a manner harmful to the pecuniary interests of the government?
  7. What are the consequences of public employees acting in a manner harmful to the citizenry?
  8. Will there be any consequences for anything, or will malfeasance by library employees be excused or simply go over the heads of the local government in the first place?

By the way, "mov[ing] computers to highly public areas" instead of using Internet filters only covers up the problem, as the US Supreme Court has revealed.  It appears Bloomington may have learned its lesson the hard way (and may still be misleading the public).

Now here's the Bloomington story:

BLOOMINGTON — A southern Indiana library is taking steps to restrict computer use and reduce clashes in response to rising numbers of altercations that have required calling police.

Arrests at the Monroe County Public Library in downtown Bloomington have tripled in the past six years, as have the number of reported assaults, The Herald-Times reported.  The number of people considered "trespassers" rose from one in 2006 to 14 in the last year, according to Bloomington Police Department data.

Library director Sara Laughlin said the library tries to be a safe and welcoming place for everyone who ends up there — including the smokers, the drinkers and the enraged.

But increased reports of drunkenness and other issues have forced some changes in the library's environment and policies.

New white tile and additional lighting have been installed in the men's restroom to reduce vandalism.  A tobacco-free policy that was enforced March 1 has helped improve the atmosphere near the Kirkwood and parking lot entrances.

More changes are coming.  Landscaping crews will work to reduce large seating areas where groups gather and to add interactive and educational pieces.  Staff also plan to review the library's Internet policy and consider filtering computers to reduce inappropriate websites, mainly in response to the handful of complaints each year about Internet pornography.

"We have avoided filtering in the past, because we believe in intellectual freedom," Laughlin said.  Instead, the library has chosen in recent years to move computers to highly public areas.


 © Copyright 2012 ASSOCIATED PRESS.  Reprinted under Copyright Fair Use provisions.



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