And, as we recently learned from the author of the Children's Internet Protection Act, a third of American libraries follow American Library Association [ALA] anything-goes policy instead of local laws and interests. It appears Lincoln City Libraries suffers from that fate, or rather its patrons and employees do.
Now read the letter from a library lover who now fears the library, and in no small way this is a direct result of ALA control of the libraries at issue:
Patron Letter to Lincoln City Libraries
by Anonymous Patron
Thank you for your time in reading this long email. Pornography in Lincoln City Libraries is a topic I have become passionate about, as I have been exposed to porn on two separate occasions in a LCL. The words in this letter speak from my heart, expressing my personal and community concerns. I will also share (some copied and pasted) articles with the permission of the authors.
I was raised amidst lifestyles of drugs and abuse; attending a total of 9 different schools between Kindergarten and graduating from high school. When I was 10, I discovered the nearest public library and within those walls found a safe escape from my home. Soon thereafter i began spending most of my daylight hours there.
I have one good childhood memory-my best friend and I riding our bikes to the library and heading to the park to read for countless hours. I considered both Nancy Drew and Laura Ingalls, my friends. The homes I lived in did not have shelves of books-except my bedroom. Next to my bed I had a bookshelf that I kept full of books; all of which were checked out from the library.
My life as a 40 something wife and mother reflects my values and interests. I have two children; each of them received their very own library card when they turned one month old. For both of them, It was their first official "outing." My first two jobs as a mother were to instill good manners and a love of reading. Our children are 10 and 15, the manners are still works in progress. However, both children love to read and our home has hundreds—if not thousands—of books.
A love of books, combined with my love for the educational philosophies of Maria Montessori and Charlotte Mason, led me to home educate our children. My fond memories of comfort and growth and enrichment experienced at LCLs now had an added virtue – the library became an essential ingredient in educating our children. At times, I had 80-some materials checked out simultaneously.
Since the traumatic incident with a viewer of porn at Gere library, my use of the library is limited to ordering materials online and picking them up at one location.
I felt, and continue to feel, a great loss. I feel my longtime friend has been taken away from me. My husband, [name elided], gave me a Nook Color for Mother's Day, 2011. While most people would be thrilled, I felt indifferent. He was trying to replace my loss. Unfortunately, that loss can't be replaced.
I want to enter my library and feel safe. I want to let my son enter the mens bathroom there and not worry. Currently, I cannot do either of those things.
I don't frequent Adult Bookstores, nor do I take our children into an Adult Bookstore. The Lincoln City Libraries have become Adult Bookstores, surrounded by shelves of books from many genres. I know that children and women—especially female librarians—are assaulted in libraries by men fresh off of viewing porn. I have been married over 21 years. I asked my husband if it's possible for men to view porn and not have the desire to please themselves. His response was no. I had many of my friends ask their husbands and boyfriends the same question. Each responded no.
I am not a radical conservative. I am not in favor of banning books. The problem I have is when other's actions violate my safety or the safety of my children. Twice in LCLs I have experienced this violation.
Once people became aware of our situation at Gere library, I received many emails and phone calls. Here are just a few I will share.
- At Walt library a teenage boy was witnessed viewing porn on a "filtered" computer-out in the "open." This was observed by a young family.
- At Walt library, a teenage girl was forced to use a computer inside the un-filtered computer room, as the other computers were being used. She had homework to finish and the use of that computer was her only choice. She was forced to sit between two men viewing porn, which was in her view. She was terrified and felt helpless. When asked why she didn't just leave, she said she had no other choice as her grade was on the line. Her friend later said that they have said something to librarians, but they do nothing.
- At South branch library, a man was looking at books and heard strange sounds behind him. He turned to see a man viewing porn and masturbating. This man's 7 year old daughter was just feet away. He said the librarian must have heard as she was just feet away.
- At Eiseley(sp?) Branch, a teenager was forced to sit by a man viewing porn. This was a boy, next to a man. Again, the boy needed the computer to finish homework. This boy told an older brother that anyone can access porn on a library computer. He said most of his friends do so on a regular basis. Concerned about his brother, the older boy told his parents in confidentiality.
- Several families contacted me, saying they also had been exposed to porn with their children while simply walking through Gere Branch. One man told me he would never allow his kids out of his sight in the library due to what he's seen.
Obviously there are legal considerations when exposing a minor to pornography—purposefully or not—and there are consequences for a library in the above situations , which, is exactly what happened in the above situations here in Lincoln.
Pat [Leach], in your interview on KOLN, you mention that it is a balancing act to meet the needs of patrons. I agree, and understand the complexity this presents. The "balance" however needs to skew toward the physical and emotional safety of the majority of your patrons. The Library is a community—a public—institution not a private enterprise. Your job is to serve the people of Lincoln, Nebraska. The patronage of the clientele you are going to not "serve" by taking steps to eliminate access to porn will not break a public institution. Adult bookstores have parking lots and entrances behind the building. Who wants to be identified as viewing porn? Such behavior is private and has no business in a public library.
Common sense would dictate that the majority of people would find the use of internet pornography wrong in our libraries. Would our community favor our tax dollars supporting porn on the library's computer? Would our community think it okay to send their child into a library bathroom where a man just viewing porn is heading? I ask each of you, are you serving Lincoln-or not?
From what I understand, this is known as "data collection" which is based on criteria and monies available. The internet is no different. Your current internet policy allows for patrons to attend a buffet of porn- feet away from other patrons-including minors. I have spoken with Dean Marney of Washington State several times. He is a library director who chooses to walk his talk-he serves the people of his community. He has given me permission to use anything he has said or written. Attached are two must read articles he has written.
It is my opinion that the current internet policy is dangerous and puts minors, our most vulnerable population, at risk. Specifically at risk are children from under-privileged homes without computers. Homes similar to those from my childhood.
As I see it, you all have an opportunity to provide a family and children friendly library. Please use the integrity that Dean has-do the right thing. The right thing would mean intelligent filtering. Common sense filtering.
[Dean Marney: "Library Porn Removal Roadmap; NCRL Director Dean Marney Details How to Legally Remove Legal Porn from Public Library Computers and Advises that the ALA Relies on Outdated Dogma"]