I last night I received this e-mail from a concerned Lake City parent regarding her experience with a library patron viewing pornography. The Conversation, on KUOW, is discussing this topic today. Call or e-mail them to share your thoughts.
Dear Neighborhood Bloggers:
I was at the Lake City Library with my two daughters (7 & 10 years old) at 4:45 on Sunday, January 22, 2012. I left them in the children’s section and went to look through the movie section, where I noticed that a man was watching hard core pornography (including anal penetration & other adult content) on a computer where the screen was facing out into the library. I told the librarian and asked for help in having him move to a more discreet location. She could see the screen from the information desk where we were standing and was sympathetic, but said that the library doesn’t censor content and they can’t be in the business of monitoring what their patrons are doing at any given computer. I then asked the man to please move to another computer. He declined. In the process of this interaction, I didn’t notice that my daughters had wandered over looking for me and one of them saw what was playing on the screen.
I have had extensive conversations with the library about this incident as well as with the police and local representatives. The man’s right to access constitutionally protected information is fully protected (which I’m not in argument with) but our right not to be inadvertent viewers is not. The library is apologetic, but devoted to its guiding principle of supporting intellectual freedom, and I detected no urgency to ensure that not one more child is exposed to pornography in a Seattle Public Library.
I told the library that I will do my best to get this in the public forum as people need to know what’s going on and the potential risks to them and their children of being exposed to adult content while visiting the library. Please help us have a public discussion on this issue as I am sure that the library can create a safer space for children (and adults) and not infringe on another adult’s right to information.