Reminders of courteous behavior instead of filters in San Jose

I read it first on Librarian in Black but liked the coverage of the Mercury News. The San Jose Public Library decided to not add filters to the public library computers after a year and a half of debate. One of the points made by the article is that startup costs to add filters would be about $90,000 with annual maintenance costs of $5,000. You can read the final policy statement here (pdf). In includes the fact that, out of almost 1.4 million computer login sessions at SJ Public Libraries (excluding the King Library), library staff received two complaints of lewd behavior and only one complaint to staff about pornography viewing. The King Library, the main library, had a similar number of login sessions and 14 complaints about pornography viewing.

3 thoughts on “Reminders of courteous behavior instead of filters in San Jose

  1. We do not use filters in our library either and we have found that generally, public computers are not being used for lewd viewing. Our computers happen to be in a very exposed area so that anyone looking at pornography would be easily noticed, not just by librarians but also by the general public. We do, however, have a license that was purchased for software that acts as a sheriff on our internet stations. The sheriff allows everything to be removed from the computer upon shutdown so that anything viewed that we might not have seen will not be viewed by an unsuspecting person the next day. We check the computer history at night and consult with our log-in book for times used if there is anything questionable.

  2. Good grief. We were forced into getting filters because we’re part of a library consortium that wouldn’t go without the money, and even WITH the filters we get more porn/lewd viewing complaints than that! (And yes, we have the computers sitting out in the middle of the room, exposed.) Of course, half the problem is that one person’s porn is another person’s car ad. (Seriously. We have a patron threatening to sue the library over the “porn” people keep watching on computers “right next to kids.” Each instance of porn he has shown to us has been something like a woman in a bikini lolling on a car. It may be tacky, but it isn’t porn.)

    Someday I hope to be able to wear a T-shirt to work that says, “Just because you find it offensive doesn’t mean it’s wrong.” That will probably happen the same day I get my unicorn to ride through the stacks.

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