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In This Issue
- Helping Libraries Serve Persons with Disabilities
- President's Memo - you expect me to do what!!!
- Library Advocacy Day
- State Librarian Janet Martin Welch Will Retire This Spring
- Library Numbers Impresive
- From the Editor's Desk
- Ramp Up Reading with the 2008 Statewide Summer Reading Program
- Censorship or Freedom of Inquiry?
Censorship or Freedom of Inquiry?
Spring 2008 issue of TrusteeChild-porn suspect’s home raided; Mahopac library to review Web policies
Barbara Livingston Nackman
This was a headline in the January 17 issue of the Journal News, about a Putnam County Library. Here is a condensed version of the story, as reported.
MAHOPAC - Carmel police have seized unspecified items from the home of a Southeast man charged with downloading child pornography from a computer at the Mahopac Public Library.
The suspect is charged with two felonies. He is accused of downloading images of photos showing children, said Putnam County District Attorney Adam Levy. He’d been viewing child-porn at the library for a year and a half, police said.
The library, meanwhile, is fast-tracking plans to update its Internet policy and has formed a Community Task Force that will include Library Director Patricia Kaufman, Carmel police, library board members, and representatives from the Mahopac school district and the county Youth Bureau. on Internet Use. The group will consider Internet filters and review current policies and procedures, said library Director Patricia Kaufman.
Town Supervisor Ken Schmitt, a 26-year Carmel police veteran, said he was pleased with the library’s immediate cooperation.
More libraries are installing filters to prevent patrons’ inappropriate and illegal use of computers, said Rick Schatz, president of the National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families, which is focused on curbing access to pornography at libraries.
“This is what happens,” he said. “The idea that closely monitoring a computer is enough is obviously a joke,” referring to libraries having staff members visually monitor computer use.
Open access to material and Internet services has been the subject of library discussions across the nation, and at the center of a 2003 U.S. Supreme Court case. Library officials this week emphasized that the Mahopac suspect was caught at the library, and that child pornography is illegal and not a function of library services.
The Mahopac library board has opposed filters up to now, saying they would block some valuable information and slow computer operation. They are reconsidering that stance, officials said. “I would ask the community to be mindful that, throughout the country, libraries are faced with how to balance providing information the community needs and wants with how to protect the public,” said board president Alice Walsh.
Most local libraries have chosen not to have filters. In Greenburgh, the debate resulted in installing filters on some children’s and young adult computers, but not in the adult sections.
“There are a lot of people who feel that filters are censorship,” said its director, Eugenie Contrata. “But libraries are a limited public forum, and we do have an obligation to provide an option and age-appropriate aterials. I commend the Mahopac library for having the courage to open the discussion and tighten up fast.”