Porn policy

Library has plan for compliance with state law


For people 17 and younger, using a computer at the Moffat County Library comes with the same conditions as viewing an R-rated movie.

Minors need the permission of a parent or guardian.

Library Director Donna Watkins implemented the practice in the past week; on Monday night, she laid out plans to the Moffat County Library Board of Trustees to get the library in compliance with a state law that mandates Colorado libraries will filter pornography from computers children use to access the Internet.

Watkins now requires that all minors who wish to use computers that are hooked up to the Internet have written parental permission. Without permission, minors must for use the three computers in the children's library, which currently don't provide Internet access.

Minors visiting the Maybell Library would need parental permission to use any computer, because there is no children's library. The Dinosaur Library does not have Internet access.

The board instructed Watkins to collect price quotes for filtering software for all of the library's computers, as well as only the computers in the children's library, by the board's next meeting, Feb. 21.

It was Watkins' plan to only install filtering software on the computers in the children's library. That would get the library in compliance with the law, she said.

She estimated that it would cost about $6,000 to install filtering software on the computers in the children's library, which will have Internet access when the software issues are ironed out.

"We've solved the children's problem, but we still have an issue outstanding for adults," library Trustee Jeff Foster said.

Foster suggested the board develop a policy that would guide library staff members when they deal with adults viewing material on the Internet that other library patrons find objectionable.

In the past, Watkins said, library staff members have informed patrons who viewed pornography that visitors find the material offensive and asked the person to move along.

But library staff cannot force the person to stop his or her activity or leave without violating the person's First Amendment rights, Watkins said.

Incidents of library visitors viewing pornography are rare, but they have occurred, Watkins said.

Last month, Tom Gilliland Jr., 18, and a visitor to Craig, complained that another library patron was viewing pornography on a computer adjacent to the one Gilliland was using.

In Maybell, a visitor regularly viewed pornography on a computer, but the library staff worked a schedule with him so he would not look at the material while children were in the building.

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