Library seeks porn parity

The Brooklyn Public Library finally said, “Shush.”

After being on the receiving end of attacks about porn viewing on computers at the Pacific Street branch, Library officials issued a statement on May 14 that suggested that libraries and “parents and caregivers” share equally the responsibility to “minimize children’s exposure to adult-themed material.”

A library, the statement said, is “not just a place to get books but a safe haven for the exchange of opinions and ideas. While some topics and content may be unpopular it is our job not to judge, just to provide.”

The statement went over about as well as an overdue fine.

“Interesting [that they] use the term ‘safe haven’ for protecting the masturbaters,” one man posted on the Gowanus Lounge blog, which linked to the Library statement’s on the BPL’s “No Shush Zone” Web site.

Such comments suggest that the Library was not initially successful dealing with the fallout from an earlier blog posting by a Park Slope mother who said two men watched porno on a library computer terminal just 10 feet from the checkout line at the Pacific branch, which is at Fourth Avenue.

“I couldn’t believe that in such a public venue when kids are walking around that this could be happening,” Cynthia, a mother of two, wrote on the Park Slope Parents Web site.

That post was followed by outrage from parents, lawyers, librarians and child psychologists over the contentious issue.

The library can limit access to child pornography or material that is legally obscene, but constitutionally, it cannot prohibit adults from using the Internet to view pornography.

But while some parents were complaining about their kids catching a glipse of a porn-filled computer screen as they check out the latest Mo Willems book, others believe porn poses an immediate danger to their children.

Case in point, after The Brooklyn Paper reported last week that a teenager was raped in the bathroom at the Central branch on Grand Army Plaza, library watchdog Dan Kleinman asked whether the assailants were watching pornography before the attack.

He said his group, SafeLibraries.org, knows of at least two cases when porn consumption at libraries led to sexual attacks.

A Library spokeswoman said that librarians are trained to watch out for suspicious browsing.

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