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Library Board takes anti-porn measures

Steps will help address complaints

Filters have been placed on all computers in the Hood River Library children’s area, in response to a recent outcry over access to inappropriate materials at the library.

The filters are one of several steps taken by the Library District board after it studied the issue and the options for response.

Over the past several months, the board has been addressing the concern that pornography was being viewed on computers in Hood River, Parkdale and Cascade Locks branches, noted board chair Mike Oates.

“Our board took this concern very seriously and has spent hours gathering information so as to make the best possible policies to address the concern,” he said.

In addition to gathering public input at its meetings, the board visited other libraries, including some that filter their computers and some that don’t. Board members read “countless periodicals about the subject,” according to Oates, and gained information from the Oregon State Library, Oregon Library Association and Special Districts Association of Oregon.

The board’s position is that filtering all library computers would disrupt availability of some information and that filtered computers are relatively easy to bypass for those wishing to do so.

Oates said the library has also taken the following steps to resolve the problem. Those steps include:

  • Placing privacy screens on most public computers in all three branches. These screens limit the ability to view the computers from an angle
  • Changing the policy wording to prohibit the viewing of pornography
  • Posting public information notices within the library that state the policy on pornography
  • Adding a “click-through agreement” on district computers, and soon wireless networks, for users to agree to before they are allowed to use our networks
  • Training staff to address violations of the policy

In addition, the board is looking at the possibility of implementing age restrictions on upstairs computer use.

“The board is committed to offering a safe and appropriate environment for all ages to enjoy. We are also committed to providing open access to the variety of information our constituents need. It’s a fine line,” Oates said.

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