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Does this happen at your library? Would you be okay with it?

post #1 of 94
Thread Starter 
My husband and I took our children (7, 3, and 1) to the library for the first time a few days ago. When we first walked into the children's section (it's own room off the rest of the library) I noticed that there were computers along the wall with teenagers surfing the web, seemed a little weird but I didn't think much of it and passed right by. We played for a while and read some books in the back and then my kids went over to the couch directly across from computers to play with some toys and read the other books. We had been there for a minute reading when I looked up and saw that one of the teens was watching a Marilyn Manson video on youtube that seemed to be mostly tight shots of women's butts in thongs and fishnets. It also seemed to include people licking and rubbing each other. It was quite shocking to me to see this playing right over my children's heads (thank goodness they were facing me and not the computers!) and right at their eye level. I got up and took my kids back to the area we were in before and my husband went and talked to the librarian. She said it's a public library and they can really only restrict so much . We grabbed our books and went out to the main desk to check out. We told the librarian out there about it and she was pretty disgusted and agreed that the computers in the kids area should not be open to that sort of thing. She said she would talk to the branch manager, gave me her number and we've been playing phone tag ever since. I won't go back there as long as the set up remains the same, we don't watch tv specifically because of that type of thing and I won't allow my kids to be exposed to it, but I am curious about what other parents think about this. No one else seemed to notice or care, or seemed to have complained before...... so is this just expected at the library???
post #2 of 94
I would not be ok with that either. Surely there are other computers in the library that teenagers can use for that sort of thing. There are often older kids / teens on the computers in our children's section, but they're usually playing games. I think I'd probably react the same way you did.
post #3 of 94
I personally wouldn't be ok with it either but quite honestly I am surprised. We're at our library often and there is a bold "code of conduct" type thing posted regarding computer use, and any "questionable" material is not permitted. Basically, the computers are for research, kids' games and those sort of things. Their screens are also all facing the librarians' desks.
post #4 of 94
Thread Starter 
These were facing the librarians desk as well, but were maybe 15 feet down from it. When my husband told her she said she would "take a walk and see what's up" then she proceeded to wait until the girl was done watching the video to get up and look . I was totally shocked as well, I just couldn't even speak....... I understand that it's a public place and they are public computers but.... in the kids section?? I know it was just stuff that is shown on TV but still, it was not appropriate for the kids section IMO and youtube has WAY worse stuff so at what point is the line drawn?
post #5 of 94
We have 3 branches in our city of 100,000. All of them have the computers restricted in the kids sectin to kids programming and games. The adult use ones are tucked away in the reference area of the adult section.
post #6 of 94
Where I livethe kids computers don'teven have internet access...just preloaded games, nickjr programs and stuff likethat. I don't believe in censorship in general but I would expect that unmonitored interne access would be somewhere that my toddler doesn't have to wtch it. Those kids should have been using theadult computers.
post #7 of 94
No, that would not happen in our library. We have a very large children's room and an attached little room with 4 computers for children, and they do not access the internet at all. They have very tame and simple computer games for preschoolers and young elementary children only.

I think you should send a formal letter of complaint to both the main library, the branch you were at and any and all higher ups that you can find. Complaints in writing are noticed.
post #8 of 94
Wouldn't bother me, but then I've seen much worse at the highschool where I taught. I think our job as parents is to explain to our kids that some things are not ok; to share our values. Not to shield them completely.

But then I abhor censorship.

Plus I like the fact that the teens feel comfortable enough to hang out in the kids section where there is more supervision overall. If they were in the adult section they would probably be looking at porn...which wouldn't be your problem but would be a problem overall.
post #9 of 94
Originally Posted by Chamomile Girl View Post
If they were in the adult section they would probably be looking at porn...
We all have our own take on things, but what was described sounds like soft porn to me.

I have a friend who studied library science. I remember her talking about how hard it was with the library needing to be a resource for people and not censor, and her trying to uphold her morals. She hated the fact that if a kid wanted to check out porn magazines, she'd have to check them out to them.

I agree that what you saw was inappropriate. I would take my kids elsewhere too. From what my friend said a few years ago when in school I'd almost think their hands are tied about this, but maybe not. Perhaps they would be able to regulate the kids section access.

post #10 of 94
I would not have a problem with it. Honestly DS is clueless as to what is on other peoples computer screens at the library. I fight and advocate for the library and our library hours. (i just had a thread in TOA about this) and I love that our library has kids computers with internet access. Quite honestly you can not control what others do, you can only control what you and your kids do. I hate censorship.
post #11 of 94
Our library has preteen/teen/youngadult books and materials in a separate room from the picture books and such. So pretty much only children under 11 or 12 yo are in the main children's section. The teen books are right next to the main children's section but clearly separate. The older kids can enjoy their graffic novels and such with out little kids bouncing up and down around them, and the little kids are free to pull anything off the shelf without too much worry about it being appropriate.
post #12 of 94
It wouldn't bother me.
The computers in our kids section of the library have only the preloaded kid games, like Magic School Bus and that sort .. no internet access.
post #13 of 94
Our library actually has computers with signs marked "Children" and "Teen"

I guess I have never noticed if the 'adult' computers are actually marked 'adult.'

I am fairly sure I can't use my son's (5 YO) library card number on an 'adult' computer.

The kids' computers have internet access, but I have no idea how limited it is. (I would think the computers are labeled in part because of restrictions, I know another reason is the kids' computers are only available for half-hour slots after school.)

I don't know if "teen" computers would have some restrictions that "adult" don't have?

I also think part of the reason it's divided up the way it is, labeled, time-usage restrictions and all, is to guarantee that all ages *can* have access--I.E. there are computers available for adults to use between the hours of 3 and 6 PM...

and absolutely 100% I WOULD complain about my children being able to see that in a children's toy room at the library!
post #14 of 94
Our library has clear sections for kids' computers -- they have only kids' games and stories loaded on them. No surfing allowed.

Teens/adults can use another area.
post #15 of 94
I work in a library and actually work directly with the director, so this has been a discussion we've had before. I won grant money last year to put in a whole teen section with 10 computers.

One of the problems with censorship is that it's subjective. What is offensive to you, may not be offensive to someone else. Unless there is nudity involved, I don't think a library can legally censor it.

It would be the same if a white supremacist came in to work on his neo-nazi website... offensive for most, but not illegal. I wouldn't want my dd seeing anything on that screen, but it's my job to keep her away from that, not the library's. The same goes for violent online gaming. It has to be allowed, but I certainly don't want my dd seeing people getting their heads chopped off.

So to answer your question, NO, I wouldn't be OK with my dd observing that, but since it's a public place, barring actual pornography (with nudity), I'm not OK with censorship, either. Yes, there need to be some rules, but it's a slippery slope.

I think your only recourse would be to ask that the furniture arranged so the screens be turned toward walls and not facing out to the public. That being said, then the librarians would probably hear from the parents of teens because with the monitors toward the walls, there will be zero supervision and they will be able to hide TRUE pornography or inappropriate surfing because there is no way for the staff to monitor the screens. See, there's no good way to make everyone happy. FTR - we have web filters and do not allow pornography by blocking. Pretty much everything else is fair game.

Oh, and at the library where I work, we also have the AWE computers that have just children's programs on them. Those are on the CHILDREN'S side of the department and the computers for the teens (which children and adults are welcome to use, though) is in the Young Adult section. You also can't legally segregate in public libraries.

If computers are for public use, they have to be open for anybody, in any area. They can "call" an area "Adult Computer Area" and "Teen Computer Area", but they can't tell a teen they can't work on a computer in the Adult area. It's a compliance issue for public libraries. They have to have some minimum internet safety policies in place on ALL the computers. This is called CIPA certification (you can google for it). Look up E-Rate Certification, too. This the the whole "non discrimination" policy that public libraries have to follow in order to get your tax dollars. HTH!
post #16 of 94
My mother was on the library board when I was in high school or college and this sort of thing is a huge PITA to the school board. If they put filter software on the computers you have parents coming in raising a huge stink about censorship. Plus the filter software doesn't catch everything and sometimes it catches too much. What if a student has a report to do for school about STDs and the filter doesn't allow access to any content containing the word sex or sexual.

There is no perfect filter software, libraries and library boards are usually very very sensitive about censorship and usually rather anti censorship.

I think when my mom was there they decided to put filters on the computers in the children's section and turn the computers so the screen was in view of the whole room. This of course caused issues they had to resolve because the library had strict rules stating that kids under a certain age were never allowed to use the computers in the adult section (so kids needing to do research papers sometimes couldn't do it). So they decided to occasionally allowing kids on the computers in the adult section for a specific, justifiable reason. They then had issues with different librarians enforcing it differently, some kids plain lying about what they needed the computer for, and a lot of general complaining "Well, why does he get to use the computers in the adult section?"

I think they finally resolved it by designating three computer stations. The children's section had computers that had filters, the adolescent section had computers with minimal filters but the computers were where the librarian could easily see the screens, and the adult section was restricted to only adults with minimal filters and computers orientated for privacy. But there was significant cost involved in the purchase of the new computers and in the remodeling to make room for the new area.

So basically, the most common solution in libraries is to turn the computers so the monitor is visible to the whole room. That really eliminates 90% of the inappropriate content viewing on those computers from kids self censoring. It also allows the librarian to see and monitor what is being done on the computers to a certain extent. Then all kids under a certain age are only allowed on those computers in full view of the room.
post #17 of 94
At our library, the screens are set down into the desktops so only the person using the computer can see what is on it. It seems that rather than censoring content, having screens that are visible only to the user might be a better solution.
post #18 of 94
Our library has different areas for computers. The ones near the kids' section are just for games, I believe. But you also have to walk past some of the adult/teen computers to get to the kid section. I've noticed people watching videos on youtube, but haven't really paid attention to what was on.

I do think they'd discourage that at our library, but I don't even know the rules as we don't use the computers there.
post #19 of 94
This would bother me, I don't want my 4 year old seeing a Marilyn Manson video like you described.

I don't think it needs to be a censorship issue, though... just better arrangement of the computers.

There are no computers or screens at all in our two children's library rooms. There must be computers in the library but I guess they are downstairs somewhere. Honestly I'd want privacy at my computer - not because I'd be looking at sexual content but I don't like the whole world looking at what I'm reading or typing, even if it's just a letter to my mom. Lord knows I'd offend plenty of people just by surfing MDC in public (hot topiics like breastfeeding, circumcision, etc.).

I think everyone can be satisfied by a better setup, and that's what I'd push for. Even if they can't move the computers to a dedicated room or section, if they are pushed against the wall and facing out into the room, they can reverse it so the monitors face the wall and there is a bit of a space between the tables and the wall for people to sit. Better privacy for the computer users, and no risk of shocking or disturbing anyone trying to have a wholesome experience at the library.

You can say "well, if you don't like it, then leave" but video is so sudden and intrusive that you can be disturbed with no warning. You could glance up and see someone working on a word document, fine. And then a minute later someone walks in the room, you glance up, and out of the corner of your eye you see porn or a violent image on the monitor now. That will be burned into your mind, and certainly your kid's, through no fault of your own. And it's stressful to always have to be on guard like that. You should be able to go to your public library and feel safe. Not by censorship but just reasonable arrangements. If the library has porn magazines, fine, they aren't intrusive because you'll have to actually go over and look at them. (Assuming they don't display the covers on table as you walk in of course!!). You won't look at them unless you want to. Videos should be the same way, not displayed for everyone to see, but in a way where you'd decide "I want to use a computer" and go there.
post #20 of 94
The computers in the kids section have strong filters and are for kids only (adults are not allowed to use them). both kids and adults are allowed to use other computers in the library at any time. However you are limited to 20 minutes a day per library card (so if you can round up your kids cards you can log in on their account) and at the Main branch you have to sign up early in the day for a spot usually. Even in the kids section I remember we would get their an hour early to sign up for a 15 minute slot of computer time. it is hard to get into too much trouble in 15-20 minutes....

also the computers at our library face a wall and have deviders in between them. volume has to stay down so the person next to you or the librarian cannot hear it. So regardless of what people might be pulling up on the computer I wouldn't really mind. it would be hard for my child to be exposed to it for more than a quick second. There are lots and lots of things in the library I do not want my kids to be exposed to. random computer images are really low on the list of things I sheild my kids from in the library.
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