Library seeks porn parity

The Brooklyn Paper
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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,, 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.

Updated 5:06 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Denise Varenhorst from Georgia says:
This article contains a factualy error in this statement:
"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."
The library CAN in fact limit access to "legal" pornography. This issue was decided in 2003 by the U.S. Supreme Court in The American Library Association and ACLU versus The United States, commonly known as the CIPA decision.
Libraries all over the United States can and do block legal pornographic images and videos from library computers. In fact, libraries MUST block legal pornography if they receive federal CIPA funding. You need to print a correction both for the integrity of you newspaper and because you have misinformed your readers on a very important issue.

Denise Varenhorst
President, Family Friendly Libraries
May 18, 2008, 8:34 pm
Michael from Bay Ridge says:
Your artcile really makes me wonder why some people have such a puritancal attitude towards sex and the body. Violent internet content is much worse than so-called pornography (a term which can't even be accurately defined). The body and sexuality are natural things, which we shouldn't be so affraid of. Even the language of this debate is downright victorian.

There is no reason why the children should be going around and peaking at the screens of people on the internet, be those people looking at pornography or sending private emails or just reading the brooklyn paper for example.

Instead of trying to limit other people's freedoms, these campaigners ought to examine why they find the natural human body and sex so troublesome.
May 19, 2008, 10:41 am
Vorst from Bay Ridge says:
Yep, nothing like exposing your child at a young age to a 'love fest' with the likes of Aria Giovanni, Nautica Thorn or Tera Patrick... where women are routinely urinated on, violently sodomized, chocked, slapped and have their bodies managed in all sorts of generally abusive and violent BUT Constitutionally PROTECTED!! manner.

I believe that's the Stanislovski method?

Far be it from me to object to anyone who enjoys such adult fare... but to call those who are concerned carte blanche access to such material at a public library "puritanical," is naive.
May 20, 2008, 1:49 pm
Michael from Bay Ridge says:
Re: Vorst

The library is not showing pronography to children, but just choosing not to impose censorship on it's users. It's the job of these children's parents to supervise them and to set their own limits on what the children see and not expect the liabrary to do it for them at the expense of others.
It is impossible to have a filter which blocks only pornography. Scientific and artistic websites will also be blocked, and that would limit the usefulness of the library.
Maybe they could have special computers for children, in a special children's room. These computers could have limits on content.
But everyone ignores the adults who need to use the library who ought to have at least as many rights as the children.

And on the point of puritans, our conservative and judgemental attitudes towards sex are directly descended from the Puritans. Other cultures do not have the same hang-ups and their children are perfectly fine. Germany and the Netherlands spring to mind.
May 22, 2008, 5:27 am
Vorst from Bay Ridge says:
what's puritanical about not wanting some low-life beating it to BangBus 15 ft away from your kids?

Not all 'adult content' is equal. In substance or place.

In the home you can beat it till you r hearts delight, but the 1st ammednmant in the public square doesn't give cart blanche access.

No matter how hard you wish to pretend it does, in an effort to change OUR legal reality to conform with the Netherlands or German.

The constitution recognizes it's contextual... "know it when I see it," ring a bell?.

Our conservative and puritanical attitudes? Yeah... there's a real nothing statement.

Just because people believe in good social decorum, and a compromise to that effect doesn't equate to fascism or censorship.
May 22, 2008, 6:48 am

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