Friday, July 27, 2012

Time to Ban Patrons Instead of Filtering Porn in Public Libraries; Guest Post by "Adult Services" Librarian

When I first started at my small town library two years ago, I was so thrilled to begin work as a real reference librarian.  That more people in town had dropped out of high school than attended graduate school did not bother me—I had arrived on my beacon of light powered by ideals from Library School.  That librarians could empower patrons to be just like Ray Bradbury and educate themselves through their local Public Library excited me.  Accessing information, whatever information they want, is our mission as librarians after all, and I vowed to dutifully serve my role as conduit.  

There's No Right to Porn in Public Libraries

Although I've never helped a patron search for pornographic materials, as the second in command at my library, I've encountered several situations over these two years where patrons have viewed graphic images on our public stations.  Most recently, I had to ask a patron to leave who was watching loud and explicit pornographic videos.  That it was offensive even to me, a bleeding heart hippie and liberal, is beside the point.  What is upsetting is that some people believe accessing pornography at the public library is a right.  

The Annoyed Librarian on the Problem of Library Porn for Librarians

The Annoyed Librarian said it well: 

[Librarians who defend pornography access]… sound like fools when they defend public library porn because of an alleged dedication to access to information.  Men who sit in front of library computers viewing Internet porn aren't "accessing information," unless we want to make "accessing information" a new euphemism for getting sexually aroused and possibly doing something about that arousal. 

Source: "The Problem of Library Porn for Librarians," by Annoyed Librarian, Library Journal, 4 May 2011.

I heartily agree.  As much as I despise the argument disgruntled patrons use when I tell them they have fines ("my taxes pay your salary!"), I think this is one instance where most patrons of a small town library would agree with me: no one wants their 75 cents of town taxes going towards a neighbor's public sexual satisfaction.  Maybe there should be public adult only libraries, I'm not sure.  But I am confident public institutions that require its employees to monitor computer usage would not want to face a sexual harassment lawsuit from one of its employees because she was forced to sit at a desk in view of naked genitalia.  Let alone from one of its loyal conservative patrons with young children.  

Local Library Trustees Asked to Filter Out Porn to Protect Children

The trustees at my soon to be former library are being petitioned by a group of parents to purchase filtering software to prevent patrons from viewing pornographic images.  This is a valid reaction, because our current policy gives patrons a warning to end their pornography viewing behavior before they are banned (temporarily, typically three or six months).  This group of parents is upset that their children were privy to sexually explicit content and harsher action was not taken immediately against the offending patron (he got a warning and his sessions for the day were terminated).   

But Filtering Software is Imperfect

Current filtering software is very imperfect and requires someone to continually adjust "the filter as needed when sites that should be allowed are being blocked."  I can't imagine how my library (or anyone else's for that matter) would be able to justify a poorly staffed reference desk but a position that would be able to vigilantly un-block sites like "child sex abuse information" or "breast cancer facts." (from which the previous quote was taken) also warns: "do not rely upon patron complaints to tell you whether your filter is working because experience shows that most patrons do not complain when a site is blocked."  

Porn Viewing?  Then Ban Patrons Instead—First Strike, You're Out

I think it is a fair solution (considering limited human and financial resources) to ban patrons from the library when they violate a clearly stated computer use policy—first strike, he should be out.  Viewing pornography is a personal choice, and looking at it in a public space forces it on others.  Perhaps if we look at it as a form of visual rape, maybe we won't have so many librarians crying injustice.  

After the Thrill is Gone

Throughout my two years at my position as Adult Services and Reference Librarian, I can now see my slow transition away from my initial thrill in helping people access information.  In my first month on the job, I vividly recall helping a patron set up a Facebook account; he wanted to locate an old girlfriend and "heard this was the best way to find her."  Of course, Facebook requires an email address, so I helped him set up that account first, spending two hours with him over two days.  As a one woman department, there were undoubtedly other patrons who could have used my assistance, but since I was away from my desk for so long, I'll never know—I should have referred him to the monthly Social Networking Workshops I used to teach.  

It only occurred to me weeks later that I could have been abetting a stalker, but since I was so passionate about helping teach people how to access the online world, I did not judge his request for assistance.  I do, however, question my title: Google "adult services" and you'll know what I mean. 

A librarian submitted for publication the above on banning patrons instead of
using filtering software in public libraries.  I am publishing it
anonymously for her protection.  I am happy to
present fresh, new ideas like this.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Library Guilty of Religious Discrimination; Another Censors and Discards Books Having Christian Content

Seaside Public Library in Seaside, OR, has been found guilty of religious discrimination and will now pay for its sin.  Liberty Counsel gets the credit for this:
The real sin is that libraries continue to discriminate against Christians even after similar religious discrimination cases have been decided for religious freedom:
See also:
Even the American Library Association [ALA] is on the right side on this issue:
But I believe ALA has more work to do to get out the message so more libraries will not lose more money in religious discrimination cases.  Speaking of which ...

Lancaster Public Library Censors and Discards Books with Christian Content

Book warning children against sexual predators
censored and discarded by the Lancaster Public Library.

On a related point, I am currently investigating the facts in a religious discrimination case where it appears the Lancaster Public Library, Lancaster, PA, has discriminated against placing a book in its collection precisely because of its religious content.  The book teaches children how to attempt to recognize and stop sexual predators.  It gaves this important message a religious twist, and that was the stated reason the library refused to place the book in its collection.  It may even have thrown out many copies purchased by the donor instead of returning them.

I predict you won't hear the ALA decry the censorship of this book, in part since it fakes censorship controversies to promote its own agenda:

Read a "Censored" Book:  Sara Sue Learns to Yell & Tell

Want to read a "censored" book?  The very one the Lancaster Public Library "censored" and threw out?

Read a "censored" book before another library throws it out!  Visit and purchase the "censored" "Yell & Tell" books!


Illustrative of the discrimination/damage caused by the Lancaster Public Library in rejecting the Yell & Tell books on children defending against sexual predators, even if from a Christian perspective, is the following:

  • "Awareness is Our Best Defense Against Pedophiles Like Jerry Sandusky," by Jerome Elam, The Washington Times, 21 July 2012, emphasis mine:
    We now face a new evil, and the trial of Jerry Sandusky is the Pearl Harbor in that war against child abuse. It is our call to action, both survivors and the rest of society to establish a united front against the vandalizing of our children’s innocence. We have to empower and educate parents and establish programs in our schools, public and private, along with our churches, youth leagues and summer camps to educate adults and children about the signs of child abuse.


    We also need to enlist the aid of those individuals whom children idolize in the sports and entertainment industries to make public service announcements about recognizing and reporting child abuse. We need to explore every avenue to arm children with the ability to trigger a chain of reporting that effectively deals with any inappropriate sexual behavior before the curtain of silence falls.


While the library is busy banning Christian books and the ALA has not and likely will not do anything about this, the ALA is actively promoting:
Public libraries promoting one religion's free speech while squelching another's is a problem, is it not?  Remember, "Know the ALA."


I have asked Lancaster Public Library to respond directly to me on this issue within a month.  So far, after about a week, no response.

Think about this.  Using the library's religious discrimination as the reason to keep children from identifying and reporting sex abuse, the Lancaster Public Library is doing the *exact opposite* of what is being sought by Erin's Law, emphasis mine:
All it took was one night for my innocence to be stolen.  From ages 6-8 1/2 and 11-13 two men molested and raped me.  I wasn't telling because nobody had educated me to tell.  The only message I was getting was from the men abusing me.  These men told me they would come get me, they knew where I lived, no one would believe me, I had no proof, and I would destroy my family if I told our secret.  There are children across this world being told the same thing I was told and I have now made it my mission to educate and empower every child with their voice through Erin's Law.  A law I am determined to get passed in all 50 states.

Yell & Tell books educate/empower children to tell, yell and tell.  Lancaster Public Library's religious discrimination is standing in the way of educating/empowering children to yell and tell.  Is it not?


I just found a story about the Lancaster Public Library showing it knows it is wrong to block books.  These are quotes that, even if not good library practice, apparently do not apply to Yell & Tell books:

  • "The goal of the library is to buy things people in the community want to read"
  • "Whether or not the book is considered 'good' by any measure is up to the public"
  • "Taking books off the shelf isn't the point of the library"
  • "It's not the library's job to censor material"
  • "Ephrata library's Penny Talbert, left, and Manheim library's Barbara Basile see their job as catering to library patrons' requests, not thwarting them"

Originally Published Jun 02, 2012 23:53
Staff Writer
Sunday News (Lancaster, PA, USA)

E.L. James' erotic novel "Fifty Shades of Grey" is causing a stir in communities across America, and it's no different here.

The book and its two sequels — focused on the twisted sexual relationship of an innocent college girl and a young tycoon with control issues — have been in high demand in the Library System of Lancaster County.

That's kept copies off library bookshelves, making local library patrons wait to check out the trilogy's titles.

Within the library system last week, there were 161 holds on 25 copies of the book, according to the system's online catalog.  Sixty-two of those holds were registered from Lancaster Public Library, said Heather Sharp, community relations manager.

The book, often referred to as "mommy porn," has also been downloaded as an e-book 15 times, according to Mary Ann Heltshe-Steinhauer, spokeswoman for the library system.  The two other books in the trilogy, "Fifty Shades Freed" and "Fifty Shades Darker," have eight downloads each.

The "Fifty Shades" craze is just reaching Manheim Community Library.  Executive Director Barbara Basile said it has been a sleeper so far.

"It took a bit of press to wake up [readers]," she said.  "I think once the teachers are off from school, it will pick up."

Basile said her library ordered the book after getting a number of requests for it.  The goal of the library is to buy things people in the community want to read, she said.

That's why this small-town library and others here haven't pulled the questionable book off the shelf, as is being done in some areas in the country.

Whether or not the book is considered "good" by any measure is up to the public, said Heltshe-Steinhauer, adding that the storyline and publicists' hype have sparked readership.  So much so that Adamstown Area Library had to order more copies to meet patrons' demands, said Sharon Haney, head circulation assistant.

Taking books off the shelf isn't the point of the library, said Penny Talbert, executive director at Ephrata Public Library.  That would be doing a disservice to the community, especially in the case of a book in high demand, she explained.

"Libraries carry things that may be offensive to people," she said.  "But if you don't want to read it, then you don't read it.  It's not the library's job to censor material."


Thursday, July 12, 2012

American Library Association's Social Activism Undermines Public Trust in a Community Institution

Read this report highly critical of the American Library Association's "social agenda":

Read this response by librarian David Lee King:

Now read my own comment:
The ALA's actions include not only those described above, but also intentionally false and misleading actions intended to mislead an entire nation.  For example, ALA publishes each year an annual list of the top 10 most challenged books.  This year’s list, for example, notes the "jump" of "The Hunger Games" from 5th position to 3rd position, likely as a means to ride the wave of the movie's popularity, and no actual proof of actual numbers is ever given despite request.

But in 2010, the ALA rode another wave.  It pushed 2 books on the list as being opposed for their LGBT content.  It said the top book was challenged dozens of times.  In reality it was challenged only 4 times all year across the entire nation.  It said another LGBT book was challenged for its LGBT content.  In reality the parents objected to the graphic of two Boy Scouts watching two people having anal sex, and, more significantly to the matter of the ALA's intentional deception, the author of the book admitted that ALA told her other books had been challenged more often that hers, but it pushed the book up the list due to its LGBT content and its successful removal from a single school.

And I have the tape recording of the author saying this in public at her speech at a New Jersey Library Association annual meeting.  See/listen for yourselves:

So the ALA essentially faked its 2010 annual list of top 10 challenged books to push the LGBT issue.

That said, I have no evidence that ALA was pushing the LGBT issue to promote it.  Rather I suspect it pushed the LGBT issue to cynically take advantage of the false controversy it was intentionally faking so the LGBT community would pick up the issue and carry the ALA's false censorship message further than the ALA could do alone.  I think the ALA was stepping on the LGBT community to use it to its own advantage.  Similarly in 2011, the ALA dropped all LGBT books from its annual list and is now riding The Hunger Games movie wave to push its false message.

Remember, the last book censored in the USA was "Fanny Hill" and that was about half a century ago.  So the ALA definitely needs help in spreading its false message that censorship is occurring everyday in nearly every community.  Desperately faking / manipulating lists to promote falsity is a sure sign the ALA knows people are not buying the bull.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Now, tell everyone what you think about the Emily Whitten report in the comments below.