You Can Watch Porn at the Brooklyn Public Library

04/28/2011 9:09 AM |

libraryporn.jpg

If you have a library card and are over the age of 17, you can use the computer terminals at your local public library to view pornography—at least in New York City. This isn’t a new policy, but New Yorkers found out only recently, after two men were arrested in Manhattan: 38-year-old Santiago Real was looking at pornography while 25-year-old Durail Wright waited to use the terminal; Wright became irate, and a fight broke out.

Southern Brooklyn’s state senator, Marty Golden—one of the borough’s lone elected Republicans—is predictably pissed, after all the hard work he and others did to pass “initiatives aimed at protecting children and the public at large from being exposed to indecent, degrading and offensive pornographic material,” according to a statement. Golden wants stronger filtering programs and monitoring to block access to dirty pictures. “Libraries are for the community to enrich their educational pursuits, not be a place to go so to download pornography.” [that's an exact quote, by the way!]

Golden, who otherwise spends his time getting foot massages and fighting to repeal the Millionaire’s Tax so he can bankrupt public institutions like the library, sure is great at pandering to his constituents. The problem with his proposed solution, of course, is that Marty Golden should be the last person deciding what’s pornographic and what is not. If I had to let anyone decide such a thing, I would much more readily trust the responsibility to a librarian.

And the librarians don’t believe they should block any adult’s access to the web. The Bed-Stuy Patch reports:

According to library officials, the ability to access any of the websites falls under residents’ First Amendment rights. They say as long as the resident has a library card and is over the age of 17, they have no right to restrict the websites a resident can access….

In the adult section, a librarian at the Bedford branch library confirmed that searching online for adult content is in fact permissible. In fact, she said, if any one has a problem finding anything online, “there’s a librarian here that can always assist you.”

While the New York Post sent a reporter to find a patron looking at pornographic materials, Sheepshead Bites dug up an old Ethicist column:

Libraries should provide for the free exchange of ideas — not just ideas you or I find palatable, not just ideas suitable for 5-year-olds. And librarians should not be forced to censor patrons’ reading, let alone eject them for looking at disturbing images.

2 Comment

  • As stated in the post–librarians are there to help facilitate their patrons’ search for information, and protect the environment in which they can conduct that search. And while “educational pursuits” are certainly important within a library (and who’s to say that a patron searching for porn wasn’t conducting research?), the public library is progressively a community center where people with more ‘recreational’ objectives are gathering. It’s the librarian’s job to see that all patrons (legally protected) needs/interests/activities are accommodated.

    Also, for what it’s worth, most public libraries have privacy screens on each computer so that it is difficult for people not right in front of the monitor to see what is there, and children’s computers are almost always separated from adult computers.

  • Yay for Golden! I’m so proud to see a man standing up against this! If only he was GA’s S.S. I’d be a happy girl!