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The Question Of Porn In Public Libraries

Illustration for article titled The Question Of Porn In Public Libraries

A man at the Chinatown branch of the Los Angeles library caught looking at Internet pornography has sparked a debate about balancing First Amendment rights and protecting children. So far, the response appears to be refreshingly measured.

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City officials say that imposing more aggressive filtering would violate the First Amendment rights of patrons (read: They don't want to be sued) and would be expensive and a blunt tool — blocking out breast cancer sites too, for example. The solution at the Chinatown branch has been specific and apparently effective: Moving computers to "a less public area" and installing privacy screens.

This issue is as old as the Internet in public libraries, and it's been litigated on various fronts. A decade ago, librarians in Minnesota filed a complaint with the EEOC saying that "repeated exposure to sexually explicit materials," constituted a workplace environment of harassment and intimidation, and the commission sided with them. Separately, the Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) requiring filters on library computers forced did not force librarians to violate the First Amendment rights of library patrons.

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City: Public Porn is a Private Manner [City Maven]
Los Angeles Librarians Grapple With Online Pornography [LAT]
Related: Squeamish Librarians [Reason]

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DISCUSSION

ashleypants
ashleypants

Whoa, I can't believe how much privilege is up in this tread. People, not everybody has a computer at home. Not everybody can afford super expensive porn DVDs and magazines. Just because it's porn and not something SRZ and IMPORTANT doesn't mean only the privileged should have access. This is why the library exists. I am all for more privacy screens, but not so private that it resembles a porn theater... People look at all kinds of things at the library, including to do research for porn studies (yes, this exists).