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Porn At Los Angeles Public Libraries Deemed A First Amendment Issue

Porn On Library Computers

2011-04-04-tcmhuffpo.jpg   First Posted: 04/12/11 08:21 PM ET Updated: 06/12/11 06:12 AM ET

Story comes courtesy of the City Maven.

By Alice M. Walton

Privacy screens on public computers are the city of Los Angeles’ answer to patrons who view pornography in libraries, a Los Angeles City Council committee was told today.

A discussion on balancing a patron’s First Amendment right to look at explicit material with other patrons’ rights to shield themselves from porn in public came about after a librarian was notified that a man was viewing such material on a computer at the Chinatown library.

The Jan. 6 incident led to public meetings on what librarians and city officials can do to limit exposure to porn.

“The community was very upset. This is not the type of thing that generally happens in the Chinatown branch,” said Cheryl Collins, interim director for branch libraries.

At that branch, the computers were moved to a less public area and outfitted with privacy screens, something that is also done at the other 71 branches and Central Library in downtown.

“If we could maintain the level of privacy without compromising security, I think we’ll find a win-win where no one can sue the city for violating their First Amendment rights,” said Councilman Ed Reyes, a member of the Arts, Parks, Health and Aging Committee. “At the same time, we have to be cognizant that there are certain characters that don’t have the best judgement in their behavior around children, around families in our libraries.”

The library system receives two to three reports per year of Angelenos using computers to look at porn, said City Librarian Martin Gomez.

Library patrons may not view child porn, which is illegal, or engage with other patrons while viewing pornographic material.

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