Thursday, April 16, 2015

Pornography Versus Library Bill of Rights, by Colby Sheppard, Westfield Leader, 9 April 2015

Pornography Versus Library Bill of Rights

Imagine the shock to learn the children’s computers in the Westfield Memorial Library have no pornography filters.  Upon speaking to other parents they had the same reaction, “I thought there were filters!”  No, not the case.

The Westfield Memorial Library is one of the only area libraries to not have filters on the computers with Internet access in the children’s department.

In February, the library begrudgingly agreed to put filters on only two of the four computers in the children’s section.  Allowing pornography on any public library computer is illegal in accordance to New Jersey state law.  Also, the U.S. Supreme Court says blocking pornography from public libraries does not violate the First Amendment.  Why then should the citizens of Westfield settle for filtering only two of four children’s computers instead of filtering all computers in accordance with the law?

I learned the library eschews N.J. law and the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, by choosing to follow the “Library Bill of Rights” of the American Library Association.  (  Result?  Your child has access to hard-core pornography.
Westfield Memorial Library; Internet Use Policy

Is this what we want for the children of Westfield?  It should be Westfield’s duty to ensure the library complies with the law, not the American Library Association.  Is Westfield living up to that duty?

The library’s “mission statement” defines the library as “the community’s destination for discovery and ideas – engages minds, entertains spirits, and facilitates lifelong learning for people of all ages.”  What part of pornography does any of that?  What “ideas” should we be getting from watching sex trafficking victims having the worst days of their lives broadcast on library computers?  Pornography goes against the very mission of the library, it’s about time the library starts complying with its own mission statement.  It’s time we get involved and restore common sense and the law.

I’ll be attending city and library meetings to push for compliance with the law that makes pornography illegal in all N.J. libraries.
United States v. American Library Association, 539 US 194 (2003)

I do not want any kid to see hard-core pornography in the library, and I’m asking those who agree to come out to the meetings as well and speak up.  Also, speak up by writing a letter to the library board and let them know your views.  The library should listen to the citizens of Westfield, N.J. law, and the U.S. Supreme Court, not to the American Library Association.  We just need to let our town and our library know we’re awake now and we’re going to speak up for our community.  It might take time, but we’ll get there.

Please join me in advocating for this positive change.

Colby Sheppard

NJ law (NJS 40:54-12 [link]) permits library boards to
"do all things necessary and proper" to run libraries.
US v. ALA says, "public libraries have traditionally
excluded pornographic material...." Clearly, Internet
porn is not "necessary and proper." So allowing
Internet porn is acting outside the law. NJ library
boards have no power to exceed the law; municipal
bodies must act to stop the lawlessness.

  • "Pornography Versus Library Bill of Rights," by Colby Sheppard, Westfield Leader (NJ), 9 April 2015, hyperlink added.
  • Reprinted with permission.  All graphics/captions were created by SafeLibraries and are not part of the original publication.

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  1. COMMON SENSE: Pornography should not be allowed where children are. I was upstairs on a computer and someone next to me was viewing porno and it was VERY distracting. There were also children on computers up there. Why should porno be viewed in a public place? I find it offensive and unhealthy for children to see.

    1. Was that in the public library in Westfield, NJ? If so, did you complain? When?


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