Friday, March 14, 2008

California Librarians Like Child Porn

Update: Someone else sent on an article from the local newspaper on the incident. I wonder if the supervisor actually did respond this way when told about the child porn.

Sent in by a reader. Is this for real? According to this news story, Librarian Fired for Reporting Man Viewing Child Porn, a librarian (or perhaps "library worker") in Lindsay, CA was fired because she reported to the police that a man was viewing child porn on a library computer. Turns out he was, and the police arrested him. A couple of days later the librarian was fired, apparently because she didn't follow the proper procedure for dealing with kiddie porn perverts in the library. Instead of reporting this illegal behavior (or is kiddie porn now "constitutionally protected speech" according to the ALA), she was supposed to inform her supervisor (I guess so the supervisor could get a good look at the kiddie porn, too), make a note on the man's library record, and tell him not to do it anymore. That's how they're supposed to shush perverts in California, I guess.

The best the director can say is that they'll take a close look at their policies and make sure everyone knows what to do in emergencies. I think he should have taken the standard ALA line that porn is information just like everything else, and the perverts of Lindsay have a first amendment right to use the library to download all the pornography they want, and if everyone else in the town doesn't like that policy they can just avoid coming to the library. After all, who are we, mere librarians, to judge what anyone views on library computers? News, government information, child porn, it's all just information.

I got an email that the new "library week" campaign from the ALA is "Join the Ring of Knowledge." I guess that sounds better than "Join the Ring of Porn."

62 comments:

TJPaladin said...

So much for empowering your employees...

This was not a simple violation of policy that needed to be reported to a supervisor....

This was a crime committed in front of the person.

Each one of us would have a moral obligation to do something about it. Immediately.

Anonymous said...

If you can't follow the rules laid down by your boss, yes, you should be fired.

1) Don't like it, file a grievance.

2) Don't have a union, organize one.

3) Don't have/or want to do 1 and or 2, life sucks and then you die. Have a nice day.

Brent said...

You just know that director is going to receive a medal from ALA.

Matthew said...

"If you can't follow the rules laid down by your boss, yes, you should be fired."

Even if your boss is an idiot, and the library rules are trumped by both local and Federal law? Really?

If you're serious, this is a good example of why one of the stereotypes of our line of work is that librarians are spineless pushovers obsessed with bureaucratic policy.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous@10:18am,

I think this is more of a reprimand than being fired situation. Yes, the employee should follow procedure. However, it was a (very) illegal act being performed (as opposed to a breach of the library's code of conduct for internet use).

What the manager of this library has done now is send a clear message to all employees: turn a blind eye to illegal activities unless you are 100% able to follow the policy about reporting it.

As a final point, if your boss lays down rules that condone illegal behaviour, then the obligation to follow those rules changes as a result of one's obligation to society (to uphold the rules of society). In this particular case, we're not talking about just porn (in which the policy of telling them not to do it again could, in theory, be permissible) - we're talking about child porn where asking nicely isn't a suitable response. In a hierarchy of rules, the rule of law supersedes to the rule of the workplace.

Anonymous said...

Jezz, why not arm the librarians so that they can shoot down scoff-laws as they see fit.

Management?

We don't need not stinking management.

We have our MLS's and know it all.

WDL said...

Join the ring...

Two things come to mind.

Wagner.

And the circus.

xo,
WDL

j- said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chuck said...

J,

Are those damn kids back on your lawn again? You just lean out the window and shake your fist like always.

Ahhhh. That's better.

Now you can turn your attention to all those long-hair hippies and their draft card burnings and their disgusting disrespect of President Nixon.

Minks said...

I think there is some confusion (based on anonymous'@10:18 response) as to the difference between policy and law. Policy should never trump the law, ever. Even doctors, if they feel a patient is a danger to others, void patient confidentiality and contact authorities. This is how librarians should operate as well. There was logical reason this library employee would not tell her boss first. So, the question is, why didn't she tell her boss?

I suspect it is because the boss would act inappropriately. Would there be any other reason?

soren faust said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I suspect it is because the boss would act inappropriately. Would there be any other reason?

Possibly to grab the glory for themselves and not for the library?

Bean said...

Hey Minks,
According to the article, she did tell her Supervisor -- "The supervisor told her to make a note on the man’s library account and tell him to stop looking at the pictures. Biesterfeld felt that the authorities needed to be alerted, so she called the police anyway."

Anonymous said...

According to the article, she did tell her Supervisor -- "The supervisor told her to make a note on the man’s library account and tell him to stop looking at the pictures. Biesterfeld felt that the authorities needed to be alerted, so she called the police anyway."

Please disregard my previous management posts if this is correct.

The librarian should be rehired and the supervisor should go to jail on child pornography charges.

Anonymous said...

a librarian (or perhaps "library worker")

We prefer "person of libraryness"

Anonymous said...

While people have been going back & forth on the whole porn surfing in libraries issue, the one thing everyone seems to agree on is that you MUST take steps to deal with those pervs who look at child porn since it's illegal. It strikes me as odd that this particular library didn't have something to that effect in their computer use policy, particularly since it sounds like this was definitely not the first time this creep had graced the library with his presence.

I realize that part of the problem with dealing with pervs & creeps in the library is because most people don't like dealing with pervs & creeps. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that dealing with these types of individuals is part of being a librarian today. Like many librarians, the supervisor probably didn't want to get any more involved than she had to because she might have had to actually confront this perv in person. Guess what, honey - that's why they pay you the big bucks. If you're not willing to back up your staff & make sure they have a safe workplace you shouldn't be a supervisor. The guy was breaking the law & you let him get away with it - that makes you an accomplice. Don't be surprised if your employee gets her job back & you find yourself having to answer some difficult questions yourself.

Anonymous said...

Crap like this tempts me to start writing my novel on the library's time, so I can become the next John Grisham and get out of this inane profession all the sooner. Sane people are apparently not wanted in management in LIS-Land. That said, my director thinks this supervisor's an idiot, too.

Minks said...

That said, my director thinks this supervisor's an idiot, too.

Mine too, thank goodness. Must be something about California.

j- said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
AL said...

As all of you know, I like to encourage debate, but I'm starting to get annoyed with the level of ad hominem attacks and personal insults, especially from one commenter in particular, who seems particularly incapable of disagreeing with anyone without insulting them. Go insult people on your own blog.

The Jaded Librarian said...

I'm torn on this. Part of me thinks it's outrageous the librarian (or library worker) was fired. Then again, aren't there laws protecting what people view on a public library computer? Despite the perversity, despite it being illegial to view child porn, policies are usually established to protect. I suspect the policy the librarian didn't follow was established to protect both the library and the patron. By breaching that policy perhaps she put the library at risk. I don't know.

ex-lib said...

"Crap like this tempts me to start writing my novel on the library's time, so I can become the next John Grisham and get out of this inane profession all the sooner. Sane people are apparently not wanted in management in LIS-Land."

You might have some competition here. I should relate my experience some day. I could also relate some other cases of people who were unfairly, if not illegally, fired. If I were this librarian I'd get an attorney - FAST. I wonder if what the supervisor told the librarian wouldn't constitute obstruction of justice.

Johanna said...

Being a library staff member myself, I can actually sort of understand what happened. When her supervisor declined to take action, she should have moved it up the command chain and notified her supervisor's boss. She instead reported it on her own time after the fact, without talking to anyone else. Despite that, she still needed to inform her supervisor and/or someone in charge that she had notified the police about a library patron. Especially when it involved library property being confiscated by the police and used in a trial. The feeling I get around here, from cases where we have had to call the (campus) police about problem patrons and gotten dinged for it is that the higher-ups more resent being kept out of the loop than disagreeing with the actions taken. They want to report the problem to the police personally so they can maintain complete control over the situation.

Minks said...

I'm torn on this. Part of me thinks it's outrageous the librarian (or library worker) was fired. Then again, aren't there laws protecting what people view on a public library computer? Despite the perversity, despite it being illegial to view child porn, policies are usually established to protect. I suspect the policy the librarian didn't follow was established to protect both the library and the patron. By breaching that policy perhaps she put the library at risk. I don't know.

I have not heard of any laws that state you have to give patrons unfiltered access to the internet.

We had almost the exact same thing happen here.... What our management declared is that they have faith in their police department, and that we are all co-workers with checks signed by the same people. So to call your fellow employee for help (even if he is a cop) is no big deal. The cops are trained to handle LAW better then librarians are anyway!! Ohh,, thats a good point! if I do say so myself.

Not making it easy to call the cops in no way protected the library.. at least in a case as blatant as this.

Like a previous poster stated, I think this was somebody getting pissy about a chain of command violation.... that would not have occurred had management acted properly on first wind of the situation. Really,, just bad management.

mdoneil said...

Anonymous 10:18 must be kidding, no one can possibly be that stupid.

I frankly doubt that the 'rules laid down...' include consulting leadership before reporting a felony occuring in the library.


No one should be fired for alerting authorities to a crime in progress. In fact this librarian should be given a commendation.

File a grievance? Are you so brainwashed by the unions that you find that an alternative? I can only assume the improperly terminated librarian will be filing a lawsuit, a bit more effective than a grievance.

The jaded librarian asks serious questions. There are indeed policies which protect patron confidentiality, however their behavior does occur in public where there is less expectation of privacy - hence the term public.

The public can pass by and see what the computer user is viewing, just as the public can see what books you have checked out as you walk out the door. While printing out the list of sites visited by the patron and giving it to another patron is as improper as printing out their borrowing history.

However when an obvious criminal offense is taking place in the library, and viewing or posessing child pornography can most certainly not be anything but a crime, there is no excuse to delay the intervention of law enforcement authorities. Any delay may allow the crime to continue, or the criminal to flee.

The idea that making a note in the record that a patron commits federal and stage felonies in the library is simply not an appropriate response.

Anonymous 10:50 what gives you the impression that some librarians are not armed?

ex-lib said...

As a point of clarification to what I said earlier about consulting an attorney, this could constitute illegal firing. After I left the library field I got an accredited paralegal certificate and did some work for an attorney dealing with employment law. While it might not be this way in Calif., in the state where I live, being fired where an employer clearly is infringing on what is legal, violating your rights, can be a cause of action. The librarian in this case may be due reinstatement, and/or compensation.
They should consult an attorney, whatever, to acertain what the exact law is.

Anonymous said...

Just another case of a Small entity trying to think that it's little area is governed by a set of laws above and removed from the laws and the constitution of the US...universities, Private corporations, now libraries...have joined the Mickey Mouse Club....Yikes.

My hat off to the smart librarian who knows how to take initiative. And here's to that director being fired - with all the people coming out of the MLS Puppy mills we can't afford to have incompetant people in ANY position, especailly one where they can decrease the quality of our work environment!!

Kat!

V said...

"A Small entity trying to think that it's little area is governed by a set of laws above and removed from the laws and the constitution of the US"

As a soon-to-be puppy mill graduate and a person who grew up not too far from the city at the center of this battle, I can agree with Kat. What is truly surprising about this story is that, unlike j’s suggestion that we’re all draft-dodging, Patchouli burning members of the great homosexual conspiracy here in California- Lindsay and Central California in general is extremely conservative. This is the area best known for Buck Owens and the “Bakersfield Sound” and the Grapes of Wrath. It’s far more Midwest in spirit than the rest of California. And if the “Big One” were to come and submerge the Bay Area and most of Southern CA- Lindsay would be primo ocean front property! I’m actually surprised that Bubba in his pickup truck wasn’t waiting outside to teach a lesson to this pornografatin’ feller. It just goes to show that the only sinister conspiracy here in California is ineffectual library management.

SafeLibraries.org said...

I added Brenda Biesterfeld to my Good Librarians page. She is a hero.

If anyone knows her, please ask her to contact me as I wish to speak with her attorney about the library possibly violating it's enabling statute, ordinance, or charter.

Gnashing Books said...

I don't think that the issue in a situation like this is freedom of speech, or company loyalty, or even morality. The library supports freedom of speech, but most libraries have policies against the viewing of explicit material that are part of the general code of conduct.

Of course you should go to your supervisor when any sticky situation arises, which the employee did do, but if your supervisor blatantly ignores the law in their instructions to you it puts you in a bad situation. No citizen is above the law, even in a public library, even in their job. Granted she should have informed somebody else above her supervisor that she had notified the police about a patron incident, but she had every right to call the police. I would never hesitate to call the police if I felt threatened or witnessed an actual crime (note I say ACTUAL crime. Viewing of porn or being an ass doesn't necessitate a crime. Child porn does, in anyone's definition, I hope.), but I would be sure that somebody in the library heirarchy knew about the situation at least after the fact, and that there was documentation of it.

Morality is something else altogether. You are not morally or legally obligated to act as an agent of the law when you are working in a library; it is not our job to watch over patron's shoulders and report their activites to anybody. We're librarians. But if, by some accident of fate, you do witness a breach of the law, you can become an accomplice to the crime through consciously choosing to ignore it. I think she made the right choice.

Anonymous said...

I got an email that the new "library week" campaign from the ALA is "Join the Ring of Knowledge." I guess that sounds better than "Join the Ring of Porn."
*loud snort*
*high five*
I enjoyed that immensely!

Anonymous said...

It's obvious many of us have become confused on what stance we should have versus porn, child porn, et al, primarily because for some of us our morality codes state that ALL pornography is immoral and thus banned when that is not the Legal Case. Let me clarify...


If a person walked into your library with a gun, fine - that's porn, and they are allowed to carry it so long as it stays in the holster or on their computer screen. If you don't want other patrons seeing it too, then you need to install polatrized screen filters on the monitors so only the person sitting at them can see the screen.

If a person walks into your library with an assuault rifle [aka looking at kiddie porn], that is Not allowed BY LAW, and as a citizen your rights are 1: call the police and 2: notify your supervisor - Notice that 2 comes AFTER 1!!! Why might it be like this? Hmmm, I can think of a number of reasons...

Now if this person walks into the building and starts shooting it up [handing out porn to the patrons], Your rights are 1: Call the Police and 2: Duck and Cover, and if your supervisor happens to be pissing his pants under the same desk you are cowering under, then you can notify them about the situation. If you are a trained citizen in confrontation, then you can pull out your own gun and return controlled conservative fire UNLESS your building is defined as

"A Small entity trying to think that it's little area is governed by a set of laws above and removed from the laws and the constitution of the US"

in which case NOBODY is ALLOWED to even Have a gun in the building [a violation of the 2nd Amendment ANYWHERE within the U.S. except for military soil, as military soil is under military law, not U.S. law] and your only recourse is to Duck and Cover and pray the police storm in through the ceiling skylights at any second.

Regardless of the little rules you have set up in your public place, the U.S. constitution Still Trumps them as it is a public place. This means it is Legal for adults to view pornographic material in the United States. It is not Legal for Anyone to view kiddie porn in the United States. It is further Not Allowed to publically hand out pornographic materials in any manner in the United States - there are laws covering distribution - that might give it to the under 18/21 kiddies, and that falls under "leading to the dilenquency of a minor."

What this librarians did is perfectly acceptable. What this supervisor did is UNACCEPTABLE and a FIREABLE OFFENSE!!

Kat!

Nonanon said...

I love you, Annoyed Librarian.
Hopefully this does not constitute blog porn.

I only have two questions: 1. so the porn viewers are entitled to a "second chance," but not librarians? and 2. the "report it to your supervisor" bit makes me laugh. Who do we report it to every night and weekend when our "supervisors" are nowhere in sight? Please.

Anonymous said...

I'll be honest: I am absolutely fine with legal porn. And since I'm anonymous, I'll even admit that I have watched it, read it and enjoyed it. I am certainly not a pervert and don't believe that those who enjoy legal porn are necessarily perv's either.

Having said that, I do not believe that legal porn should be accessible through the public library - however, any accompanying non-pornographic articles should be available. But if a community decides that they want to access this material in their public library, then I will respect that (although I disagree).

However, I would like to point out one thing:
Regardless about how we may feel about accessing porn in the library, illegal porn has no place anywhere - library, home, workplace. It is illegal. Free speech should NOT protect illegal acts. Period. End of story. This is a crime! It is NOT a theoretical debate on "access to information." It is breaking the law. This library should be ashamed of itself for enabling a criminal act that exploits children.

ex-lib said...

This situation reminds me of something an old friend of mine experienced years ago when he was working in the Welfare office in another state [that neither of us reside in any longer]. He was obliged to visit the different clients at their home adresses. He started to notice that he was going to the same apts. over and over, for different people. It was a shill address. He told his supervisor that he suspected something fraudulent was afoot. Nobody was at home any of the times he went by. The supervisor told him to quietly close out the case files. He didn't feel right about all this. The cases involved Federal food stamps and he contacted the FBI, who took over investigating from there. A while later there was a bust of what to that point was probably the largest case of Welfare fraud in the history of the state, costing the taxpayers no telling how much money. His supervisor was not happy over the matter. My friend ended up having to resign in protest. This is another GREAT example of Gresham's Law[The bad drive out the good].

DearReader said...

Anonymous 1:16 said, "Now if this person walks into the building and starts shooting it up....Your rights are 1: Call the Police and 2: Duck and Cover."

This is off-topic, but I learned at a workplace safety training that ducking and covering isn't the best idea. Hiding in an enclosed space is a good way to get hurt - better to run outside and get help, if possible. Sounds cowardly, but it's not as though you're saving anyone under that desk, either.

Anonymous said...

If you Google the Lindsay CA Library, you'll see that is a very small branch library (probably a part of the Tulare County kludge). Most likely, the librarian's "supervisor" wasn't even in Lindsay,but located somewhere else.

If you look at the Lindsay CA official web page, it doesn't even list the library as a city function.

So - -if the librarian is is faced with a perp who is viewing kiddie porn on the library's computer - - where should she really turn to for support?

Kevin Musgrove said...

Typical librarian-manager POV: worship the process, never mind the outcome.

Been there, won't bore you with the details save to say that oceans are no boundary to the idiocy of library managers.

SafeLibraries.org said...

Kevin Musgrove said, "Typical librarian-manager POV: worship the process, never mind the outcome."

I think the following quote confirms Kevin's statement:

"[My supervisor] said I worked for the county, and when the county tells you to do something, you do what the county tells you. She said I had no loyalty to the county. I told her I was a mother and a citizen also, and not just a county employee.

"— Fired Lindsay librarian Brenda Biesterfeld, relating a conversation with her supervisor, Judi Hill."

Link for source verification.

By the way, while I'm writing, David Burt has brought some historical perspective to the matter. He provides evidence that at least one other California library supervisor has ordered librarians to ignore child porn on the computer screens. See David Burt's blog at Fresno Librarian Fired For Reporting Child Porn in the Library « Filtering Facts.

Dances With Books said...

That is just not right. I agree with the anon. that mentioned about privacy screens. Overall, I have no problem with the legal variety of porn (hey, live and let live). However, the last I looked, the illegal variety is exactly that: illegal. Looks like an example of yet another supervisor without a spine, but I am sure some librarian administrator will rise up to defend his ilk. Now wonder the profession is toast.

Anonymous said...

I've always maintained that the issue with porn surfers is usually not what they're looking at but what they're doing while they're looking at it; most of these pervs can't seem to look and not touch. It seems more logical to focus on that aspect, vile though it may be, since public obscenity laws tend to be much more stringent and easier to enforce than what constitutes porn and what doesn't. Put your computers out in the open and make it clear there's a zero tolerance for such behavior - chances are even the creepiest creep will get the hint and stay away.

Also, as a woman who's had to deal with porn surfers I've never had one of them challenge my request to leave - they seem to be so horrified that a real, live woman spoke to them in an authorititive manner that they practically run out the door.

Anonymous said...

Update: LJ actually covering the story.

http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6541688.html?desc=topstory

last two paragraphs:

On her Library Law blog today, Mary Minow, while not specifically referencing this incident, advised that “Child pornography is NOT protected free speech. If you see someone looking at child porn in the library, call the police. If you see only the website and no patron, you can still report it to the FBI or Cyber Tip Line 800-843-5678.”

The Lindsay City Council later sent a letter to the Tulare County Board of Supervisors saying Hill and Lewis "failed to meet the public trust." The Times-Delta editorialized that this was “one of the most embarrassing public relations messes we have ever witnessed,” suggesting that the available facts favored Biesterfeld. The county Board of Supervisors has set up a performance evaluation for library director Lewis; such a personnel matter is discussed in closed session.

Anonymous said...

All I know is that if they had fired me where I am at, they would have had one nasty lawsuit on their hands.

I run the Library IT department and I am required by law to report Child Pornography or I could be be charged with a misdemeanor for not reporting it.

We also have the discretion of when we see a crime being committed to contact the police first and then inform the supervisor/director about it.

Personally she did the correct thing. Child Porn is not like consenting adult porn, it is illegal and should be stamped out.

Anonymous said...

Jim Says:

Our Library Policy on this issue:

Code of Conduct:

The (name removed) Library extends the privilege of computer and Internet usage and governs all aspects of that use, including, but not limited to, time and seating assignments. The Library reserves the right to at any time revoke the Internet privilege of any patron making any inappropriate use the Internet, (i.e., any criminal activity; placing unlawful information on the system; the use of obscene, abusive or objectionable language, audio, and/or pictures; and/or any variance from the [Library] computer usage agreement.)

Internet Policy:
Users are prohibited from viewing or downloading sexually explicit Internet sites or images on library computers ...

The use of the (name removed) Library System is a privilege which may be revoked at any time for inappropriate use. Conduct that may lead to revocation of a patron’s privileges to Internet use would include, but not be limited to, suspected criminal activity, the placing of unlawful information on the library system, and the use of obscene, sexually explicit, abusive, or otherwise objectionable language, audio, and/or pictures. The staff of the Library system will be the sole arbiter of what constitutes inappropriate Internet use.

The (name removed) Library system reserves the right to review any material stored in files to which all users have access and will edit or remove any materials which is believed to be unlawful, obscene, sexually explicit, abusive, or otherwise objectionable. No assurance can be made for the privacy of any communication on the network. Additionally, to prevent unlawful, obscene, sexually explicit, abusive, or otherwise objectionable materials, authorized system administrators and/or appropriate law enforcement officials may monitor a user’s activity and/or examine computer records of private correspondence and files.

Users of Library computing resources must comply with federal and state laws, [this] County and Library rules and policies, and terms of applicable contracts including software licenses while using Library computing resources. Examples of applicable laws, rules, and policies include the laws of libel, privacy, copyright, trademark, obscenity, child pornography, the Florida Computer Crimes Act, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, and the computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
I have read and understood this policy. By signing my registration card, I agree to abide by this policy.


Me here:
The problem is, no one seems to know what we can actually do IF/WHEN we catch someone in the act of violating the policies! When I've tried to enforce it when finding kids or adults on "adult sites", I've been told I can't really do anything except ask them to not visit that site. If they refuse???? Who knows.

SafeLibraries.org said...

Jim (anonymous 10:31 PM immediately above):

Your library's policy also says:

In accordance with the federal Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), all library computers are equipped with a technology protection measure to filter and block access to images that are obscene as defined in section 1460 of Title 18, United States Code; or child pornography, as defined in section 2256 of Title 18, United States Code; or harmful to minors as defined in section 1703 of CIPA (Pub. L. 106-554).

Questions for Jim:

1) Are all computers filtered as the policy seems to indicate?

2) Are the filters disabled or the individual sites unblocked in accordance with CIPA?

3) How are the filters disabled or individual sites unblocked.

4) In your opinion, is CIPA as applied in your library ineffective?

5) If so, why?

I ask this because you said, "When I've tried to enforce it when finding kids or adults on 'adult sites', I've been told I can't really do anything except ask them to not visit that site. If they refuse???? Who knows."

6) CIPA requires a library to act upon a simple request without asking what for. But it also says the action must be "to enable access for bona fide research or other lawful purpose." Assuming for the sake of argument that "kids or adults on 'adult sites'" is NOT "bona fide research or other lawful purpose," should you not be able to reactivate the filter or reblock the individual site?

7) Please say more on this topic.

Further, I'll assume the library was created by some law, statute, ordinance, charter, what have you. I'll assume that local law specifies the purpose for the library. I'll bet viewing adult sites is not part of that purpose. Therefore, allowing the continued viewing of adult sites after the initial CIPA request violates the provision "to enable access for bona fide research or other lawful purpose."

8) What does your local library enabling law say is the purpose of the library?

9) Are adult sites part of that purpose?

10) If not, does allowing people to continue viewing adult sites violate your local library enabling law?

11) Should your local government take action to prevent the library from violating the library's enabling law?

12) What are the consequences of your government's failure to ensure the library is acting legally by adhering to the library enabling law and by not exceeding it to allow illegal activity?

Thank you.

SafeLibraries.org said...

All, this blog and a few others have appeared prominently in Librarian in Nation's Headlines; Lindsay Firing Sparks Debate on News Sites and Among Bloggers, by David Castellon, Visalia Times-Delta, March 18, 2008.

Anonymous said...

Jim Replies:
Questions for Jim:

1) Are all computers filtered as the policy seems to indicate?


Yes

2) Are the filters disabled or the individual sites unblocked in accordance with CIPA?

We will 'unblock' a computer for a patron 18 or older with proper ID (usually a diver's license or other picture ID with birth-date). This was on advice of the County attorney, who "studied" the issue.

3) How are the filters disabled or individual sites unblocked.

Staff goes to a 'management' site and types in user name and password. This gives one hour of unfiltered use.


4) In your opinion, is CIPA as applied in your library ineffective?

5) If so, why?

I ask this because you said, "When I've tried to enforce it when finding kids or adults on 'adult sites', I've been told I can't really do anything except ask them to not visit that site. If they refuse???? Who knows."


In most cases, with most patrons, the filter is effective. Most people want it removed to visit sites such as myspace or youtube. In some instances, the sites blocked make no sense -- some job sites, for example. However, we have had teens come into the library and pass around 'bypass' urls that goes around our blocks and allows them to directly access blocked sites. We DO have permission to ask them to leave the computers for the rest of the day.

6) CIPA requires a library to act upon a simple request without asking what for. But it also says the action must be "to enable access for bona fide research or other lawful purpose." Assuming for the sake of argument that "kids or adults on 'adult sites'" is NOT "bona fide research or other lawful purpose," should you not be able to reactivate the filter or reblock the individual site?

um, what was the question? Usually our response upon finding patrons visiting porn or sites with non-medical nudity is to simply ask them to shut down the site and leave the computer room. I'd say of the few times we do find this, 97% of the patrons do so, probably out of embarassment. However, some do not, and in these we are not given much support from management on enforcement.


7) Please say more on this topic.

Further, I'll assume the library was created by some law, statute, ordinance, charter, what have you. I'll assume that local law specifies the purpose for the library. I'll bet viewing adult sites is not part of that purpose. Therefore, allowing the continued viewing of adult sites after the initial CIPA request violates the provision "to enable access for bona fide research or other lawful purpose."


We are a branch of the County Government, operating under the auspices of the Board of County Commissioners.

8) What does your local library enabling law say is the purpose of the library?

Dunno.

9) Are adult sites part of that purpose?

No.

10) If not, does allowing people to continue viewing adult sites violate your local library enabling law?

I would assume. However the County Commission operates under the assumption that "the Library needs to be and provide a welcoming envrionment, open to all." Thus when a patron threated a staff memeber and said she was "going to kick her skinny A$$ from one end of the library to the other", we were prevented from issuing a trespass warning because on commissioner thought that if the word got out that we were banning patrons, people would not feel as welcome and stop coming!!!

11) Should your local government take action to prevent the library from violating the library's enabling law?

12) What are the consequences of your government's failure to ensure the library is acting legally by adhering to the library enabling law and by not exceeding it to allow illegal activity?


They should, but they don't. The result is that the staff feels betrayed, powerless and impotent, becoming more babysitters and less information professionals and para-professionals. There is a lot of unhappiness in the ranks right now.

Thank you.

You're welcome.

Jim

SafeLibraries.org said...

Wow. Very telling. What do people think about his responses? (Jim, thank you for your honesty.)

Anonymous said...

A minor oops regarding minors:

I left out a sentence (in bold below) in one of my responses:

2) Are the filters disabled or the individual sites unblocked in accordance with CIPA?

We will 'unblock' a computer for a patron 18 or older with proper ID (usually a diver's license or other picture ID with birth-date). we do not unblock a computer for anyone under 18, even with a parent's permission.This was on advice of the County attorney, who "studied" the issue.

Anonymous said...

I found one Problem, Jim:


8) What does your local library enabling law say is the purpose of the library?

Dunno.

9) Are adult sites part of that purpose?

No.


If you don't know what the purpose of your library purpose is, You cannot STATE in any difinitive manner whatsoever if adult sites are or are not a part of that purpose.

For if the Purpose of your library is to provide the Community with Information the Community members deem worthy of pursuing, then your library by purpose HAS to allow those people who can legally view pornography their "right" [because the library is a public institution and personal rights are thereby covered by the Bill of Rights.

I did find the part about calling the police to take care of trespassers [those who have broken rules and therefore been kicked out] to be disturbing. Management Unwilling to have a spine because maybe the patrons will all stop coming to the library....???

I see more people refusing to use the library because it is filled with people who Should be asked to leave...like this pedocreep in Lindsay County!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ 6:06 PM was Kat!

Kevin Musgrove said...

Jim's experience sounds very real to me.

We've a different legislative framework over here but the disjunct between published policy and authorised practice rings pretty true.

Anonymous said...

Jim says:

Anon 6:08, (lol Sounds like a Bible verse!)

I thought of that when I posted, but it's not really a contradiction. We've been told in the Internet Policy (posted earlier):

Internet Policy:
Users are prohibited from viewing or downloading sexually explicit Internet sites or images on library computers ...

The use of the (name removed) Library System is a privilege which may be revoked at any time for inappropriate use. Conduct that may lead to revocation of a patron’s privileges to Internet use would include, but not be limited to, suspected criminal activity, the placing of unlawful information on the library system, and the use of obscene, sexually explicit, abusive, or otherwise objectionable language, audio, and/or pictures. The staff of the Library system will be the sole arbiter of what constitutes inappropriate Internet use.


So, I didn't see it as a contradiction since the public use policy stated the case against porn.

Anonymous said...

I got the time wrong! Sheesh.
Anyway that was to Kat, who posted as Anonymous 6:06!!!

GBG

Jim

Anonymous said...

Jim here again:

On one of those 'entertainment news' shows between the news and Jeopardy, they had a small featurette on the Librarian, Brenda Biesterfeld, who got fired for reporting the child porn.

To everyone but her ex-boss she is a hero, in fact they interviewed a county commissioner who said she is proud of what the will fight to get her her job back.

The official reason given to the reporter was just a "business related firing" not connected to this incident.

But it sounds as if she will get the job back, if she still wants it after all this!

Jim

Anonymous said...

Not my night.

"They interviewed a county commissioner who said she is proud of what Brenda did and will fight to get her job back at the library."

SafeLibraries.org said...

That story, on Inside Edition, is here: Why Was Librarian Fired?, Inside Edition, March 19, 2008.

herself said...

I don't know whether to laugh or cry every time I see someone here suggest that a lawsuit is appropriate, needed, or even possible. As someone who was fired in the same fashion (1 month short of finishing probation, for reasons the management would not discuss and which I suspected but could not prove), I know that this librarian has NO RECOURSE. All the county library system honchos have to do is keep their mouths shut; she cannot prove her firing is in any way related to this incident.

Jim said...

safelib.,

Thanks for providing the name of the show and link. Once the show is over, without a tv guide, I have no way of re-locating it on my cable box.
I thought it a good report, by the way.

to herself:
I agree, a lawsuit may or may not work, with the odds favoring "not".

However, when the commission steps in, the situation changes, and things happen. My own dear boss gets scared to death whenever she gets a call from a commissioner wanting to discuss "the Library".


--Jim

Anonymous said...

Jim, you're correct that your library policy clearly outlines the Library position on such information.

However, even if it is in writing doesn't necessarily make it a legally binding contract - which is why I suspect the library legal counsel has suggested putting in the "unrestrictive to those over 18if they request it" clause.

Kat!

Robert M. Lindsey said...

I think that this is appropriate here. The library becoming a liability, not an asset to communities. "...we've found the need to limit our library visits. It is getting harder and harder to find good books and materials at our local library. If the ALA has it way, our libraries will come havens for pedophiles and other miscreants."
http://whyhomeschool.blogspot.com/2008/03/library-becoming-liability-not-asset-to.html

SafeLibraries.org said...

You know what, Mr. Lindsey, you've added a terrific comment. And that reminds me. In the City of Lindsey's letter to the Tulare County Board of Supervisors, dated March 12, 2008, the city said, emphasis mine:

"Both Mr. Lewis and Ms. Hill have reinforced a culture of control and misrepresentation of events and facts. The repeated efforts of senior library personnel to create this culture of control and misrepresent information have created great dysfunction within the library department and have measurably strained the relationship with the City of Lindsay. The actions of Mr. Lewis and Ms. Hill are intolerable...."

This is proof positive that, at least in some cases, local control of libraries is impossible, and that some librarians lie to advance their control over local communities. Many people have said this, but never before to my knowledge has it been so clearly laid bare to the public that local governments feel they have lost control of local libraries and that the libraries are lying to protect their actions.

This control and lying is in and of itself illegal since local libraries where created by local statutes or law that do not cede control of the libraries to the ALA or its acolytes. The librarians applying control in a manner that exceeds the law creating the libraries makes it illegal per se or by definition. The lying to enable this illegal activity may give rise to punitive damages. At a minimum, governments have every right to return control of the library to those who act within the bounds of the local law that created the library.