Libraries and the Internet

February 24, 2000

Twenty years ago if your child told you he was going to the public library, a smile would break over your face. Today, the smile has been replaced with a concerned look, at least in some areas of the country.

The reason is simple: libraries have Internet access. And libraries and librarians have often balked at putting blocking software on library computers. Thus, young people visit sites that most parents would find objectionable.

The American Library Association has routinely rejected the idea of restricting access to computers or putting blocking software on computers. That's why the recent action in Minneapolis is so striking. A letter signed by 47 of the approximately 140 downtown library employees appeared in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The library staff wrote, "Every day we, too, are subjected to pornography left (sometimes intentionally) on the screens and in the printers. We do not like it either. We feel harassed and intimidated by having to work in a public environment where we might, at any moment, be exposed to degrading or pornographic pictures."

They went on to mention that "the American Library Association (ALA) and our Minneapolis Public Library administration have taken the firm stand that restricting Internet access in any way is unacceptable censorship." But they go on to write, "At our reference desks we hear numerous complaints, often from parents with children or teenagers in tow, and many say they are not coming back unless the situation is improved."

As you may know, a similar battle has been brewing right here in the the metroplex. I think it is time for concerned parents and educators to register their complaints and concerns. School kids don't need access to pornography in the public libraries.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.