net filters, pro and con

sunday, november 20, 2005

regarding "libraries struggle in age of net smut" (page a-1, nov. 13):

as a teenager living in a technological age, i believe that blocking information in public libraries would strip me of the most positive tool given to my generation. public libraries are meant for the public. anyone should be able to use them to get any type of information.

the new federal law withholding federal funds to libraries that do not install content filters on their computers could prevent a student from getting internet material on breast cancer. content filters would block searches that contain the word breast.

i understand that some people misuse the internet. but that should not mean that everyone else should be punished.

for me, the library is a sanctuary - a place to do my work and get away from the quotidian distractions in my life: television, friends and even my home computer, which is full of instant messaging programs. i urge others to speak out against the blocking of information from this sanctuary.

leigh sullivan

wayne, nov. 14

regarding "libraries struggle in age of net smut" (page a-1, nov. 13):

librarians are perpetuating a myth when they say they are not responsible for the library collection and the porn-laden materials available. try asking yourself if you are allowed such freedom. imagine telling your readers it makes no difference what your newspaper prints and displays in its ads or other features. if your paper wants to print porn, that's ok because it is up to the public to "police" themselves.

librarians are public servants, and like all other public officials are answerable to the taxpayers whose money they use. we need to call these public servants to task.

the first amendment was never intended to allow or protect pornography in the marketplace of ideas. the intent of the founding fathers was to protect political dissent and the full expression of religious beliefs.

lawlessness is being advocated by those who claim libraries are merely book warehouses and librarians are not answerable to the public. such freedom without limits is a license to destroy.

nancy m. czerwiec

oak lawn, ill., nov. 14

the writer is a former library board member.

teaneck councilman and library board member paul ostrow has it right when he says libraries should consider filtering the internet. and he is correct about looking after the safety of children.

no solution of any kind in any area will ensure the complete safety of children. but filtering all library computers will greatly reduce the inappropriate information children might otherwise see.

perhaps more important, filtering all computers will greatly reduce the chances of adults using the computers inappropriately and injuring children, as was the case in montvale where a man was arrested in the borough's public library.

however, ostrow and other like-minded people will need all the support they can get when they come up against librarians who have very different interests.

i'm not sure librarians often are entirely interested in children's safety. judith krug, director of the american library association's office for intellectual freedom, said: "i get very concerned when we start hearing people who want to convert this country into a safe place for children." and in its so-called library bill of rights, the ala says that age may not be used as a reason to discriminate against children viewing anything they want.

local librarians, unfortunately, often follow ala guidelines that advise them to hide the truth from the public with non-incendiary language. for example, instead of speaking about the library bill of rights, they are advised to use the phrase "freedom of choice."

the suggestion is on display in the record's article. "Ÿ'filters are dumb,' said juliette sobon, director of the washington township library." now if filters were that bad, does anyone think the u.s. supreme court would have wasted its time deciding filters are constitutional?

community standards should hold sway, not those of the ala.


chatham, nov. 14

the writer is associated with plan2succeed, a citizen's group seeking to undo american library association influence of public library management.


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