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library staff say:Keep porn filter-policy as is

London Public Library staff are not buying into a request that pornography filters be added to all computers.

In a review of the library’s Internet service policy, staff are recommending only minor “wording” changes to the guidelines. None has to do with porn filters, despite a city-council directive that the software be installed.

Members of the library board are expected to adopt the policy — as they do each year — at tonight’s meeting and still could push the filters through. In the past, however, board members have backed the staff position that filters could restrict information and hinder research.

Josh Morgan, the board chairman, said board members have to decide if the status quo fulfils the library’s mission of creating a “safe and welcoming place … for people and their families. That’s what the board has to discuss,” he said.
The prospect of adding filters cropped up most recently when Megan Walker, executive director of the London Abused Women’s Centre, and others piled on council with complaints about people scrolling porn sites.

But in the report to be tabled tonight, library staff highlight that only 10 complaints about people viewing “objectionable” content were received in 2010, a year that tallied about 699,500 computer users. Through Nov. 17 of this year, 736,000 people had used the Internet and 15 complaints had been received.

Of the overall complaints, two involved patrons who were touching themselves inappropriately while looking at the content. Both had their library privileges revoked, the report says.

While only some library computers have mandatory filters — mainly those used by children, teens and for job searches — Morgan stressed that staff can add the software to other terminals as needed.

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