Royal Oak's elected officials want pornography-blocking filters added to library computers after the arrest of a homeless man on charges of viewing child pornography at the public library.The Detroit Free Press article provides an interesting snapshot of the debate on web-filtering and varying approaches to access as the situation evolves in Michigan. Although many of the librarians interviewed in this article seem opposed or cautious and yet accepting of filtering, there does not seem to be a clear alternative on offer for resolving this issue.
City commissioners stopped short of ordering the library to install filters, but they voted March 3 to have the city library board tackle a question faced by nearly every library: Should First Amendment rights to uncensored information trump a need to block obscenity from public computers?
Meanwhile, the staff of Gwinnett County Libraries will now be able to use software to capture the browsing histories of patrons after a change to the library system's Internet safety policy:
"The responses include counseling users on appropriate Internet usage for less serious situations, ordering users to stop viewing obscene materials, or calling police and capturing the computer's browsing history as possible evidence in the case of child pornography."
This policy also raises the age at which patrons can use unfiltered computers to 18.
These changes were effected after a woman complained that another patron was viewing pornographic materials and staff informed her that they were unable to respond.