January 20, 2022

London, Ontario: Library walks tightrope as info provider vs. censor

An editorial from the London Free Press.

From that Editorial:

And so, for London Public Library, the balancing act continues.

Caught between pressure from city hall to keep porn off library computers and its own mandate to provide unfettered access to information, the library walks a fine line.

The library board this week opted to stay the course.

It won’t place porn filters on computers used by adults despite pressure from council and community activists such as Megan Walker of the London Abused Women’s Centre. Walker linked violent and pornographic website content to abuse of women and children.

Under existing library policy, porn is filtered from computers used by children, teens and job-seekers in the employment resource area.

Council, using its fiscal clout as major funder of the library, sought similar filters on all computers after an impassioned pitch from Walker.

The library, which reviews its Internet service policy annually, argued against that plan, citing figures that show the tiny incidence of patrons accessing porn. It noted 15 incidents so far in 2011 among the 736,000 log-ins at computers and on its wireless service.

Invariably, the library reported, when confronted by staff, patrons viewing such content stopped and apologized.

But the library noted it could do more, and still keep open access for adults.

As of March 1, the library plans to deal with skyrocketing use of its wireless Internet by patrons with handheld or laptop devices. Authentication will be required by way of library card or temporary pass, details to be worked out to accommodate out-of-towners.

Read the Complete Editorial

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.