LA Addresses Pornography Viewing In Public Libraries
This article originally appeared on WattWay.org.
That means some library patrons could be flocking to the library not to grab the newest novel to hit the book stacks, or for a quiet place to study, but instead to indulge in a guilty pleasure: To watch pornography.
A recent complaint from the Chinatown Los Angeles Public Library from parents brought this issue to the attention of Los Angeles City Council. On Tuesday, the council discussed options the city had about dealing with the issue but still protecting one’s First Amendment rights.
Library officials have responded with strategies like the positioning of computers.
“We were directed … to make sure every computer had a privacy screen and suggest that if any of computers had to be moved or changed,” said Cheryl Collins, who is the acting director of branch services.
There are currently five branch libraries that are refiguring their computer areas to make the screens less visible to the standby visitor. Collins said she also the library system ordered more privacy screens to replace ones that she found to be ineffective and old.
“We think it’s the responsibility of the parent to monitor the child’s use of the library … we do know that’s not always possible, but we try to provide as much as possible the most secure environment we can,” Martin Gomez, who is the city librarian, told city council.
Out of the thousands of computers in the Los Angeles public library system, Collins told the council that there are only a handful of complaints year-to-year about the subject. In retrospect, she estimated that there’s about a dozen to two-dozen yearly complaints.
“Every year some of them are legitimate and some of them are borderline, it’s kind of like the ebbs and flows,” she said.
And at the Jefferson Park Branch Library located in South Los Angeles, senior librarian John Frank has rarely dealt with the issue. If the situation were to arise, he said he would hope the parents or children involved would notify him so the library employees can see if the computer needed to be moved or the privacy screen wasn’t working.
But because of a patron’s constitutional rights, he said he could never tell them to stop viewing pornography. He believes he has to uphold the First Amendment.
“There’s not much you can do as far as ostracizing anyone who is doing that, that is their kind of right,” he said...
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