Escondido Library Trustees discuss filtering

North County Times reports that some Escondido City Council members are expressing concern over the unfiltered public access internet stations at the library. The library trustees will attend a joint workshop to discuss the matter with the Council next month. If the library decides to go wireless it is reported that "wireless access requires an all-or-nothing filtering approach."
The reaction from the trustees is mixed. This concerns one of the library trustees, Elmer Cameron, "I am concerned kids outside with laptops would be able to log on to sites that are not approved".Trustee Virginia Abushanab said "I don't think filtering belongs in our library, it discriminates toward poor people without computers at home", she said after conducting searches on filtered work stations and finding that some software blocks job sites and health information. "She said other software had political agendas."

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My verdict is out

I can see both sides of the filtering issue. On the one hand, I feel that filtering is imperfect... naughty things sometimes get through, and genuine information that could be useful to the patron is sometimes blocked. In that light, I feel it's better to just do away with the things.

As someone who maintains the computers and mans the reference desk beside the computers, I don't want to have to close the thousands of pop-up windows porn sites generate. Not saying that all patrons come to the library solely to view porn, but there are always silly kids who think it's hysterical to do that sort of thing. Just like they move all the books with "sex" in the title to the children's section. It happens.

My least concern when setting up a wireless network would be whether kids -- inside or (as implied) even just outside the library -- can access inappropriate materials on their laptops. The key word here is their laptops, or the laptops their parents gave them. I would speak to them if they were viewing something inappropriate in the library, the same way I would tell them to put away their Hustler. If mom and dad supply the laptop... mom and dad supply the surf control, too. Libraries do have a responsibility to keep kids safe... but parents should bear that responsibility even more.

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