echoes sentinel

library mulls anti-porn filter ruling

24 july 2003

long hill twp. - by jason goemaat, staff writer - © recorder newspapers 2003

in the wake of a supreme court ruling requiring libraries to install anti-pornography filters on their computers or forfeit federal funding, the library board of trustees discussed how it would affect the township branch during its wednesday, july 16, meeting.

the june 23 ruling, by a vote of 6-3, upheld congress' children's internet protection act (cipa), which is intended to prevent children from exposure to pornography.� groups such as the american library association (ala) and the american civil liberties association have argued the act limits free inquiry.

"the one concern and problem, (is) we don't get federal funds," said library director arline most.� she said it has been more than 10 years since the library received federal funds administered by the state.

most said libraries that received "e-rates," a reduced price on telecommunications through the federal government, have to install the filters.

she said while the library doesn't receive that funding, the "consortia," the 36 branches of the morris county library system joined together in shared database services, does, said most.

"one possibility is that if the consortia continues to apply for e-rate, then every member of that consortia will have to put in filtering," most said.� "that can present some major problems for the consortia."

she said ala has no definite answers on how consortiums should operate under the new law.� she said the ala should answer those types of questions in the next month.� also, libraries are waiting for new guidelines from the state, which are due aug. 1.

the ala is a professional organization dedicated "to providing leadership for the development, promotion, and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship," according to its mission statement.

the library director encouraged board members to go on the ala web site www.ala.org/cipa and educate themselves on the guidelines.� the site includes the court documents from the ala vs. united states and frequently asked legal questions regarding cipa and press releases on the issue.

board member jerry klawitter asked when libraries must comply with cipa requirements

most said that the fcc hasn't provided guidance as to whether libraries must comply with cipa requirements by the end of the year.� the ala will provide the information as soon as it's available, according to its web site.

also, klawitter asked if the library's state money from the consortia contained federal funds as well.

"that's a question the consortia has to address," most said.

however, she said that the state money received by the library "has absolutely nothing to do with the federal government."

in the event filtering has to be put in, most has been reviewing different ways to operate the library's internet computers.� one method is to install "smart card" machines, in which cards could be swiped in and prohibit minors from visiting sites considered inappropriate.

klawitter said he and most discussed arranging three "unfiltered" computers in front of the circulation desk for adult access only.� other patrons using filtered computers could have the feature turned on or off based on their age.

"whether or not that's a legal option, i'm not quite sure," most said.

the board's next meeting is scheduled for wednesday, sept. 17.

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