Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Go To Hell, ALA, Says Trend Setting Library Director; Wants to Implement Monitoring Software to Watch Computer Screens From Afar

A trend setting library director essentially tells the American Library Association [ALA] to go to hell, according a media report. In Lakewood, OH, Lakewood Public Library Director Kenneth Warren says, "If you need privacy, you should get your own computer." To this the media reports, "Warren's views on privacy for library computer users clash with those of the American Library Association." "Warren dropped his membership from the group after it suggested libraries erect privacy screens for public-access computers." In other words, go to hell says the library director. (Privacy screens are a known failure.)

The ALA's response in the article is that monitoring computers would make people "feel uncomfortable," in other words, embarrass them. Irrelevant, and the ALA knows it! ALA Deputy Director Deborah Caldwell-Stone was deeply involved in the US Supreme Court case the ALA lost and lost big. It is called US v. ALA. She appeared in the media discussing the case. Yet here she is, in yet another community, making believe the case doesn't exist, changing embarrassment to feeling uncomfortable. Here's what the Court said about embarrassment that the ALA apparently doesn't want you to know:

The District Court viewed unblocking and disabling as inadequate because some patrons may be too embarrassed to request them. 201 F. Supp. 2d, at 411. But the Constitution does not guarantee the right to acquire information at a public library without any risk of embarrassment.

This library director is a trend setter. "Lakewood was one of the first libraries to help police nab a patron viewing child pornography." (Recall the ALA is nearly silent about the library employee fired for doing the exact same thing.)

He's about to do it again, to set another trend. Pay attention, as this may be the wave of the future:

"Now the library ... might expand its monitoring policy by using free software that allows librarians to remotely monitor what a patron is viewing on a computer screen."

Yes, that's right! Read more at "No Privacy at Library; Some Officials Consider Use of Software to Monitor Patrons' Use of Internet on Public-Access Computers," by Molly Kavanaugh, Plain Dealer, Wednesday, Jun 18, 2008.

If ever a library deserved an award from Family Friendly Libraries, it would be this one.


  1. After reading the comment you posted on my blog, and your post here, I wanted to respond to some of the points you made.

    I think that ALA has actually done a great job of giving public libraries guidelines for what the ideal library should do for its patrons. However, their guidelines don't work in every community, and the library must serve the population that votes for its taxes and uses its services.

    That being said, I don't think monitoring patrons' internet usage through software that allows screenshots is a good thing. Will it stop people from looking at objectionable websites? No. Will it give patrons a false sense of security that it will prevent people from viewing pornography? Possibly. My concern is that the technology will be abused by an employee or that the staff will now be held responsible if a patron is indeed viewing something pornographic and it is not caught.

    I hate it that people use our public computers to watch porn videos, and I hate it even more when I have to actually go and look at the computer screen to make sure that's what it is and tell them to stop. But I don't think filtering computers and technology used to "spy" on our patrons are the answers, either.

  2. Funny! I was just about to post something similar to what I just wrote, from another blog to which I just responded, and it was your blog!

    Everyone, let's welcome the "Library Gremlin," another person practicing free speech by blogging. A peer of mine, in that regard. Please see the Library Gremlin's post named "On Internet Privacy" and our comments thereafter.

  3. You actually want to peep at what library patrons are doing on the internet? You folks are pretty creepy! It makes my skin crawl to think that this is what you want for our public libraries.

    Get a life!

  4. I am having the problem. My library is tracking everything I do. It's creepy. A few weeks ago I signed up for a stock picking service. I signed up using the library computer. The next week 2 people who work at the library tanked me for that information. One lady who also works at the grocery store thanked me for the info. One girl at the library service desk thanked me when I was a the library. I found out that the library is keeping a file on me. In that file they record some of my interesting activities. Like signing up for the stock broker service... To me it's like J.Edgar.Hoower all over again. It is spying. I went to the police and filed a complaint. An Investigator is working on it now. I went into the same library after that and it was very quiet, very quiet. Let's see what happens. JS


Comments of a personal nature, trolling, and linkspam may be removed.