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Librarian Suspended over Patrons' Web Access

CowboyNeal posted about 9 years ago | from the acceptable-use dept.

Privacy 414

bsw149 writes "The head librarian of the Valparaiso Community Library in Florida was suspended after investigators found that users had viewed adult content on public computers. While the library has a policy against viewing adult material on library computers, the librarian is facing possible dismissal. Is the best enforcement policy to hold librarians personally responsible for the materials patrons' access?"

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That's Stupid (3, Insightful) (907022) | about 9 years ago | (#13311476)

How is it the librarian's fault? They're not looking over the people's shoulder's all the time, and they could just hide the content when the librarian walks over.

Re:That's Stupid (2, Insightful)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | about 9 years ago | (#13311495)

My guess is they'll get him on the ground that he didn't install a proper web filter or something like that.

Re:That's Stupid (1)

HUADPE (903765) | about 9 years ago | (#13311556)

Of course, that in itself is a pretty bad excuse, considering that it is quite possible for a user to circumvent filtering software.

Oh, and does anyone know how big this library is, because if they are expecting the head librarian to do all of this stuff, then it'd better be a pretty small library.

Re:That's Stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13311506)

And even if they did have a filter, someone with enough time could figure out how to crack it, and post it on the internet.

No filter is impenetrable. Shoot the person downloading adult content, not the sysadmin managing them.

Hmm, that has me thinking, maybe a login system based off your library card? That would certainly make it easier to find the little buggers.

Re:That's Stupid (1)

Rs_Conqueror (838344) | about 9 years ago | (#13311583)

or on the subject of content filtering. A hardware based porn firewall. Software is too easy to get around, most of the time ctrl-alt-del will get you past it. But if you have it built into a router, unless you buy and install a new one, you can't get past it.

Re:That's Stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13311606)

Sure you can. The "hardware" firewall is just a box that is running software anyway (not that it makes any difference).

Re:That's Stupid (2, Interesting)

cyberfunk2 (656339) | about 9 years ago | (#13311713)

Https proxy anyone ? That'd go right through the firewall.

Re:That's Stupid (2, Insightful)

uberdave (526529) | about 9 years ago | (#13311513)

It would be the librarian's fault if the librarian was supposed to implement a firewall blocking adult content and failed to do so, or did so with imcompetence.

Re:That's Stupid (1)

uberdave (526529) | about 9 years ago | (#13311561)

Oops! My finger slipped. That should be incompetence not imcompetence. Sorry folks.

Re:That's Stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13311625)

There isn't such a thing as a firewall blocking adult content. No filter can distinguish between adult content and other types of content, or legal and illegal content.

Of course they could use a whitelist-filter (i.e. something that blocks everything by default, only allowing those sites that are explicitly approved), but that would mean they'd be blocking most sites and not really providing "internet" access as much as access to a selected set of sites.

Re:That's Stupid (2, Informative)

yar (170650) | about 9 years ago | (#13311717)

You're probably thinking filtering system, not firewall. ^^:

It depends on the library. A library doesn't always need to block adult content from adults. This is partly because a librarian shouldn't be in the position to determine what is or is not adult content for the library's patrons.

Re:That's Stupid (4, Funny)

macdaddy357 (582412) | about 9 years ago | (#13311712)

She was supposed to use her god-like omniscience, and know what all people were doing at all times. In fact, it was her duty to read their minds and stop them before the fact. Since she didn't, we need to get two sturdy pieces of wood, and three nails. Crucify her!

Re:That's Stupid (5, Insightful)

canuck57 (662392) | about 9 years ago | (#13311774)

How is it the librarian's fault?

You hit the nail on the head with that statement. It should be city management that should be fired for neglect of supporting policy. City politicians could have subscribed to a block list and lay down the infrastructure to enforce this policy, like most do. Instead they make her out as the cause when in fact it is disfunctional inept city politics that is the cause.

I hope the lawyers tear the city apart for wrongful dismissal. The city's only chance in surviving would be if they demonstraited support for the library personnel to boot patrons out for viewing porn, which is not likely. And last I checked, sex offenders don't walk around with tattos on their forehead to say so.

She is clearly a victim.

Porn (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13311477)

Nothing for you to see here, please move along.

Suspended? (0, Redundant)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | about 9 years ago | (#13311482)

The head librarian of the Valparaiso Community Library in Florida was suspended

They lynched him?

Re:Suspended? (1)

A beautiful mind (821714) | about 9 years ago | (#13311493)

If this is tasteless jokes [] day anyway, mod parent funny!

Re:Suspended? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13311537)

I think you'll find the head librarian was a woman, but thanks for the attempted joke.

Re:Suspended? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13311581)

No silly, they don't lynch people in Indiana, only in the south!

Re:Suspended? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13311655)

No, they mixed him with precipitate.

Is it in their job description? (4, Insightful)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | about 9 years ago | (#13311485)

Is it in their job description to monitor what users access? When they signed their job contract or whatever, did it clearly outline this? Cause if not, they librarians should not be dismissed.

Sounds like it is (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | about 9 years ago | (#13311572)

The Sun quoted a letter Martin had written to Billingsley in which she explained, "We continually enforce our policy by monitoring all computers. Any suspicious use is immediately checked by accessing the history of the patrons' Web use. In addition, the staff monitors the patrons' use by 'walkthroughs' of the computer areas."
I wonder how extensive the history of patron's use is?

Re:Is it in their job description? (1)

u-235-sentinel (594077) | about 9 years ago | (#13311577)

It was my understanding the public libraries were not allowed to install filters to prevent this sort of thing. Now I'm hearing the public shouldn't do this in the libraries. I'm not condoning what the public did. It's not reasonable to say the people aren't allowed but we won't try to stop you.

Seems like a double standard

Re:Is it in their job description? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13311742)

It's not reasonable to say the people aren't allowed but we won't try to stop you.

That sounds like about 75% of the laws on the books these days. You're not allowed to do all sorts of random shit, but if you don't hurt anyone, don't take anything that isn't yours, don't do anything worth a fine, and don't do anything that would sound great for the DA's next election campaign (war on drugs, download child porn, anything that the DA can make it to look like it might be related to terrorism, etc) they just don't really care.

Re:Is it in their job description? (1)

joeljkp (254783) | about 9 years ago | (#13311722)

Even if it's not specifically in the job description, suspending the head librarian when people misuse library resources certainly puts the behavior-punishment chain in the correct place. The head librarian should be implementing sane policies that prevent things like this, and should be trying to provide a sliver of oversight for this stuff.

This is, of course, if the issue at hand really is people continually using library resources to view porn, and not a one-time thing, or the government calling breast cancer research "adult material", or anything dumb like that.

Dismiss the dismissers! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13311490)

By analogy, perhaps it would be best to fire any cop who doesn't manage to stop all crime on his shift?

Re:Dismiss the dismissers! (1, Insightful)

kesuki (321456) | about 9 years ago | (#13311760)

and all the firemen who let a building burn down on there shifts! I'm sick of this lack of personal accountability let's fire all the fast food workers who can't produce food in under a minute from when i've had my order taken! Lets fire all the security professionals who've had a system compromized, and lets fire all the programmers who've written buggy code!

let's fire all the politicians who only server the interests of the people who contributed to there compaigns while were at it! and fire all the teachers who've had a student who fails.

great idea. So who hasn't been fired yet? anyone? Fire them too, they've done there job LESS THAN PERFECTLY...

you know there are things called punishments that fit the crime... this guy should have maybe a days pay docked for every person who manages to get access to porn if it's in his/her job description to prevent it... if the person shows repeated incompetence then you fire them... in the mean time perhaps having had time to look for a more qualified canidate..

Typical Hoosier reaction (0, Flamebait)

GPLDAN (732269) | about 9 years ago | (#13311498)

Crazy midwestern neo-con bumpkin bible thumpin kneejerk blame the innocent bullshit response.

Re:Typical Hoosier reaction (1)

SilverspurG (844751) | about 9 years ago | (#13311566)

Except this was Valparaiso, FL, not Valpo, IN.

Re:Typical Hoosier reaction (1)

VideoJ (845550) | about 9 years ago | (#13311659)

Except for the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area, Florida is about as conservative and bible-thumping as they come.

So, what actually happened? (4, Insightful)

OO7david (159677) | about 9 years ago | (#13311499)

TFA doesn't go into what actually happened, only that someone watched porn and from that the librarian is being dismissed since she "had not done enough to prevent the incident".

First off, it's an "incident" not "incident s ", so it probably only happened once, and if the history just showed one site, I can think of a thousand ways that could have accidentally happened.

We're missing some kind of important details here.

Re:So, what actually happened? (1)

HUADPE (903765) | about 9 years ago | (#13311521)

City Commissioner Robert Billingsley said in the August 12 Gainesville Sun that he would ask the commission to fire VCL Director Sue Martin, but he declined to explain why he thought she had not done enough to prevent the incident.

The article does not say because the city officials won't say details, and they're the ones who know.

Re:So, what actually happened? (1)

LoadWB (592248) | about 9 years ago | (#13311534)

Actually, it is incidents, since TFA also mentions that Billingsly heard from police (it doesn't say VPD or otherwise) that three male minors had also been able to access adult material.

Re:So, what actually happened? (1)

TodPunk (843271) | about 9 years ago | (#13311543)

Regardless of the details, the responsibility is more than likely not on the librarians' shoulders. Librarians are there to help you get to information and organize your own. They are not there to babysit your internet surfing or even monitor what it is you're viewing. The ISP (usually city run) should be filtering that sort of thing, and if anyone SHOULD be held responsible with regards to punishment, it should be the user. They know the rules, I'd hope, and even if not, public courtesy is simply not to bring that into the public viewpoint. It's not polite to moon somebody either, and they'd hold you responsible if you did that in a library, not the librarian.

Re:So, what actually happened? (1)

LoadWB (592248) | about 9 years ago | (#13311615)

In the end, there is probably a long list of "responsibilities" which the librarian is supposed to execute. I'm curious about the fact that Bushee had child pornography in his possession when arrested... did he print that at the library?

I don't know Sue Martin, but it seems to me there HAS to be more to this story than what the ALA is reporting. Was she reprimanded before for lack of supervision of the computer area? Is she an outspoken proponent for the library causing waves locally? We probably won't know until much later.

I'll spend some time digging through the local rag [] but this time I didn't make it past the poll about the Indian names of local high schools. Sheesh...

Re:So, what actually happened? (2, Informative)

cheaphomemadeacid (881971) | about 9 years ago | (#13311636)

from: orl-locporno13081305aug13,0,5165967.story?coll=orl -news-headlines-volusia [] (google news,librarian) VALPARAISO -- A Florida Panhandle librarian has been suspended and may be fired by officials upset that a registered sex offender and three boys allegedly used the city library's computers to access pornographic Internet sites. Sue Martin, head librarian at the Valparaiso Community Library, was suspended with pay and will receive a hearing within 60 days, City Attorney Doug Wyckoff said Thursday. City Commissioner Robert Billingsley said he would ask the commission to dismiss Martin. Hard drives have been removed from the computers, and the public has been prohibited from using them until further notice. Martin does not have a telephone listing under her name, but she wrote to Billingsley, who oversees library matters for the commission, after the sex offender allegedly viewed a pornographic site July 25. "We continually enforce our policy by monitoring all computers," she wrote. "Any suspicious use is immediately checked by accessing the history of the patrons' Web use." So... they're watching... and fireing anyone who doesn't play along?

Re:So, what actually happened? (0, Troll)

Misterfixit (890118) | about 9 years ago | (#13311784)

Did he get his moneyshot on the keyboard? Now that would be A Bad Thing. I am looking for keyboard manufactureres who have a built in cloth cum-rag roller at the top of the keyboard. Sort of like those roller things in public restrooms, where you pull the roller and the cloth comes down clean and pressed -- ever so pristine. Oh, on a wiper arm thing for the screen. All automatic, of course and powered by a firmware Linux distro.

good grief. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13311500)

Is the best enforcement policy to hold librarians personally responsible for the materials patrons' access?

No, this is stupid. Librarians don't spend years in school earning higher degrees in library science to become nannies. The world has enough problems, why must they keep inventing new ones?

My Rights Online???!! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13311501)

what the hell does a suspension of a librarian have to do with my rights or anybody else's?

The fact is that the librarian's superiors didn't think she was doing enough to stop people from browing for porn, and they took action.

I also like how the slashdot summary noted it was "adult matierlal" when it was in fact kiddy porn, which is not legal at all.

This story is not very interesting or relevant to most people. But it at least it provides a forum for the Chicken Littles to scream about the death of Free Speech, Big Brother, yadda yadda yadda, the sky is falling crowd.

Re:My Rights Online???!! (1, Insightful)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | about 9 years ago | (#13311560)

Tell me: if someone downloads kiddy porn at work, does the IT guy gets fired?

Same for this dude. He has nothing to do with it, provided he took reasonable precautions prior to letting patrons on the library computers (i.e. install "sanctioned" filters). If patrons know how to circumvent the filter, then it's either the patrons who should be arrested, or the filter's manufacturer who should bear some responsability.

What I'm driving at is that if the librarian did whatever he could to prevent downloading kiddy porn (and remember, he's no IT guy, he's a librarian, so installing a commercial web filter is about as much as he's expected to do) then he's not to be blamed.

Re:My Rights Online???!! (1)

creimer (824291) | about 9 years ago | (#13311630)

Tell me: if someone downloads kiddy porn at work, does the IT guy gets fired?

If the "someone" in question happens to be a high-ranking manager, yes. Why? Because the IT guy didn't prevent the spyware that "accidentally" downloaded the kiddie porn. I had a roommate that was stuck in that position. The only way he got out of losing his job was that he started logging the manager's web activity and the CEO personally verified the logs on a clean computer to see if this stuff was being "accidentally" downloaded. Bye-bye, manager. Of course, this all comes down to practicing safe CYA measures.

Guy Named Sue (2, Funny)

greenhollow (63021) | about 9 years ago | (#13311643)

You refer to the librarian as he. His name is Sue Martin.

Re:My Rights Online???!! (3, Insightful)

LoadWB (592248) | about 9 years ago | (#13311574)

The issue is that of public access to the Internet, versus policing of that access. Libraries do not traditionally maintain collections of adult material on their shelves, so they are expected to extend that prohbition to the Interntet access they provide. But, time and time again, it has been proven that such prohibition is virtually impossible.

So, in essence, this is about everyone's rights online.

Knowing about how cheap the Valparaiso City Commission can be about things, I doubt the library was provided the funding for any kind of useful software to help in this task. But I cannot say authoritatively since the last time I visited the ValP library was back when the only computer there was a Commodore 64.

Re:My Rights Online???!! (4, Insightful)

steelfood (895457) | about 9 years ago | (#13311588)

Read TFA.

The director of the library was suspended, not just any librarian. TFA doesn't go into the details too much, but the city officials were orchestrating this, and she have a hearing. That's pretty much how serious it is. Start thinking criminal charges. Maybe not jail time, but possibly community service.

Nor was it kiddy porn that the people surfed. They just charged the sex offender with possession, but TFA states that he (and some underaged boys, big surprise there) had looked at adult material using library computers.

Nice try, troll.

Re:My Rights Online???!! (1)

blackpaw (240313) | about 9 years ago | (#13311638)

Well if I was the next librarian I'd implement a sure fire no fail internet filtering system.

I would remove all computers from the library - that would certainly stop any porn browsing.

Re:My Rights Online???!! (2, Insightful)

yar (170650) | about 9 years ago | (#13311749)

"what the hell does a suspension of a librarian have to do with my rights or anybody else's?"

An excellent question. Where to begin?

First, the library is one of the traditional places for persons to get information. Things related to your rights that concern librarians:

-Public Access to Information
-Public Access to Government Information
-Intellectual Freedom
-Copyright and Intellectual Property

There's more.

One of these issues is technological barriers to access, such as filtering, and how they impact people (adults and children).

Your Rights Online. Here's how: (2, Insightful)

uberdave (526529) | about 9 years ago | (#13311750)

The librarian is facing dismissal, and possible criminal charges for the actions of another. So if the system this, why could we not punish you for someone else's crimes?

Re:Your Rights Online. Here's how: (1)

uberdave (526529) | about 9 years ago | (#13311766)


So if the system allows this, why could we not punish you for someone else's crimes?

Note to self: Preview THEN post.

Calm Down Silly Person. (2, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | about 9 years ago | (#13311755)

No, i think you are the one that is freaking out.

The issue is that a person is getting fired for what appears to be out of their control. For a what seems to be a single incident.

This has nothing to do with freespeech/etc. Its about the transposing of fault to innocent people.

The person doing the viewing is at fault and should be punished, not the person running the building.

The only thing it should do for the librarian is serve as a wakeup call that their blocking procedure isn't adequate.

Standard Policy? (3, Interesting)

Zakir (849137) | about 9 years ago | (#13311502)

If someone reports the user to the librarian, the librarian walks over, what power do they have? The person will most likely close the window when they see the librarian. Is the librarian allowed to ask the person to leave or ask person to stop using the computer? Is there a standard policy for what to do, and the librarian isn't following it or does the person just make it up when they catch somebody?

Lets Find Scapegoats (1)

Azarael (896715) | about 9 years ago | (#13311507)

Obviously another case of blame first, never ask any questions.

Screwed both ways (1)

AdityaG (842691) | about 9 years ago | (#13311510)

Its not like the librarian would have his job if he DID keep an eye on what the users did.. He would just get fired for invading the user's privacy or sued at the least.

Welcome to Florida (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13311514)

Yes, this is the great state of Florida, which has brought you (and the rest of us) among other things, criminalizing people over connections to an open wi-fi. It's no wonder Fark has a special tag for items just from that state.

What makes Florida interesting is that half the state is relatively progressive, and the other half is still living in the 10th century. This creates constant clashes between these two idealogies. You don't see news like this coming out of Mississippi, Alabama, Kansas, New York, California, etc. Texas is another state like this too, except these kinds of ideological clashes are still not yet news worthy.

In soviet russia... (-1, Offtopic)

cibus (670787) | about 9 years ago | (#13311516)

...librarians fire YOU while surfing pr0n!

Simple solution (5, Funny)

ThatGeek (874983) | about 9 years ago | (#13311517)

Here's what they should do: ban all devices and texts that display inappropriate information. Who wants to live in a world in which people can see sex, violence or evolution?

Once we get rid of all those books and magazines and that interweb thingie, we can get back to the important stuff. I think it's time we put an end to all of this inappropriate behavior by setting an example. Let's put the librarian to death and be done with it. She's obviously a witch.

Re:Simple solution (1)

MattWhitworth (858990) | about 9 years ago | (#13311609)

I agree. Google have the right idea with banning words like 'democracy' in China, who needs that kind of information? I bet she wouldn't have been suspended if they had viewed gun sites or sites with extreme violence on her shift.

Job performance and nothing more? (1)

automa7ic (146804) | about 9 years ago | (#13311520)

The librarian herself says

"We continually enforce our policy by monitoring all computers. Any suspicious use is immediately checked by accessing the history of the patrons' Web use. In addition, the staff monitors the patrons' use by 'walkthroughs' of the computer areas."

If indeed it was her job to prevent access to adult content up front, then it would seem that she has failed to take (or at least mention) some of the basic steps to prevent this...

Pictures of the librarian (0, Offtopic)

linzeal (197905) | about 9 years ago | (#13311530)

here [] .

this is too much (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13311532)

Now librarians have to be cyber cops? Thanks to gutless wonder admins, they have to take the heat for this. This isn't right. Maybe we should just hire armed guards for each computer terminal, and offenders will be shot. You better make darn sure those popups don't get ya.

It will be interesting to see the body count for this, huh?

By a show of hands... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13311536)

how many Slashdotters think viewing hardcore porn in the public library should be allowed?

Re:By a show of hands... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13311592)

But that's not the question, really. Should the librarian be fired if you surf pr0n on the library's computers? Whose fault is it really?

How many places at once can a librarian be, anyway?

To the original query: no, I think it's in very bad taste to surf pr0n on a pub(l)ic library computer.

Re:By a show of hands... (1)

DarkVader (121278) | about 9 years ago | (#13311814)

I do. It's not the responsibility of the library to censor.

Now, it would be polite of library patrons to use a terminal that wouldn't be visible to other patrons when viewing things that might offend others.

But I think librarians should be fired for interfering with the rights of patrons to read or view anything they want on the net. If a public library provides a resource, as a government entity it shouldn't be allowed to censor that resource under any circumstance.

To be fair... (1)

dattaway (3088) | about 9 years ago | (#13311544)

Librarians better watch for people entering the building with magazines or other reading adult material. Someone could be reading something relating to procreation or even pictures of it on government property if they aren't careful.

Public vs. Private Libraries (1)

dada21 (163177) | about 9 years ago | (#13311547)

Libraries originally came into existence by the altruism of wealthy individuals. They were endowed with trust funds administered to keep the libraries funded for the future. Private administrators ran these libraries under guidance by the rules established by the trust. If a librarian broke these rules, they were fired.

Today, most libraries are called 'public' and are paid woth tax dollars in addition to donations given to the public body administering the library. They're now restricted so much by general government laws and regulations that libraries are pretty much all the same.

The fallout of government censorship comes from this private to public change.

If you're against government censorship, support the return of privately run libraries. Wealthy folk have little incentive to endow new libraries as the public 'good' has created tax funded monopolies.

Re:Public vs. Private Libraries (1)

the_demiurge (26115) | about 9 years ago | (#13311591)

Why will wealthy individuals fail to make stupid judgements like the one made by the City Commissioner of Valparaiso?

Are they smarter or more reasonable in virtue of their large sums of cash?

Re:Public vs. Private Libraries (2, Insightful)

yar (170650) | about 9 years ago | (#13311783)

The fallout of government censorship comes from the government censoring. The increased in public libraries is one of the more positive changes that has occurred with respect to access to information, government or otherwise. While it is true that if the libraries did not receive public money the government would not be in the same position to affect library policy (and censor), there is far less ability for the public to affect private information policy.

It's their job! (1)

tyroneking (258793) | about 9 years ago | (#13311550)

As the HEAD librarian the person concerned does have responsiblity to implement library policy. If they didn't do it they they should be for the chop; if they are under investigation then the authorities owe it to possible witnesses amongst the library staff to keep the head librarian off work until the investigation is complete; once they are proved innocent (here's hoping) then they can come back to work. heads of organisations have a lot of power and with that comes responsibility and the risk of suspension if things go wrong.

The Real Question (2)

MisterSquid (231834) | about 9 years ago | (#13311554)

The real question is what is a public library funded with public dollars doing by being in the business of censorship. Adult-oriented material should be freely accessible from publicly-funded. In some cases, libraries should implement measures to ensure that non-adults are not exposed to adult-oriented material but, then again, there are no limitations on what books one may check out from a public library, regardless of age.

Re:The Real Question (2, Insightful)

wkitchen (581276) | about 9 years ago | (#13311771)

but, then again, there are no limitations on what books one may check out from a public library, regardless of age.
Yes, there are. It's limited to the books that the library has chosen to stock.

If I had known (1)

christurkel (520220) | about 9 years ago | (#13311567)

I would be held accountable for things like this, I wouldn't have taken the job. Or if I ahd taken the job, I would unplugged all the computers, 'sorry, too much risk...'

Between a rock and a hard place (1)

Monty845 (739787) | about 9 years ago | (#13311569)

The librarians are stuck in a no win position, if they install filtering software on the computers they are violating the rights of the people using the public library and if they don't some idiot will come along and fire them? This is a classic over reaction by someone who wants to score a few points with the voters by going after a percieved evil without consdiering the greater implications of thier actions

Re:Between a rock and a hard place (1)

LoadWB (592248) | about 9 years ago | (#13311691)

Perhaps. Mayor Arnold *is* getting VERY old, after all.

But one thing that has not been mentioned... apparently Sue Martin was a lawyer, and a good one... good luck to the City Commission.

Speaking with my mother who is a librarian in the next town, they have NO filtering software because people complain about limitation of their rights. They *can* kick people out and revoke their computer priveleges, but supposedly they cannot actually go through users' histories because it invades their privacy!

It's Florida! (2, Funny)

hotspotbloc (767418) | about 9 years ago | (#13311573)

Maybe they'll send her to their "faith based" prison [] to repent.

Totally fucking ridiculous.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13311575)

What the hell is going on here.. how much more of this bull are people going to be willing to put up with. The same EXACT scenario played out at a corporation would result in the problem employee to be fired, not their boss.

Librarians are up there with teachers and it appears that our society has now completely lost its way... the end times are coming and it's starting in forida.

If libraries are responsible for what's viewed... (1)

Starker_Kull (896770) | about 9 years ago | (#13311576)

Let's make:

Police officers liable for crimes that occur in their precinct
Firemen liable for fires that occur in their district
Teachers responsible for illiterates who move into their school system
Politicans responsible for the consequences of the laws they pass on an "eye-for-an-eye" basis

I mean, really. This is beyond silly, on many levels. It is crazy to expect that a librarian can, in detail, monitor (or "spy") a patron's computer usage habits (they have a few other minor responsibilites to attend to). It is silly to think that they should demand ID from everyone who walks in, and check to see if they are child molesters first (For those who didn't RTFA: the person viewing the porn was registered sex offender). And lastly, BOOBS are NOT going to corrupt Western Civilization - but censorship and Big Brother monitoring you will.


As usual, the summary doesn't tell the whole story (4, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | about 9 years ago | (#13311582)

Typical Slashdot. Not just anybody viewing porn but:

"The director of the Valparaiso (Fla.) Community Library was suspended without pay in early August after city officials found that a registered sex offender had used library computers to access pornographic websites."

Since I don't know what really happened I won't dispute whether the librarian is at fault. I'll just note that filters really don't work well and for libraries it's either the choice of internet or no internet. Nothing much in between.

If internet access is so much of an issue, perhaps the computers should be put in a seperate room where you have to be over 16 or 18 to enter and use or have your parents sign a permission slip.

Personally I think it's all that streak of classic American puritanicism anyway, TV shows violence with people's heads and other body parts blown off every night of the week, or have realistic grotesque autopsies on CIS-like shows, or real grotesque surguries/diseases/etcetera on the scientific channels, or animals mating on any NationalGeographic or discovery channel yet a kid can't handle a glimpse of people doing the same?

If the sex offender viewed that stuff, put responsibility where it belongs and haul his ass to jail if he violated parole or whatever.

Re:As usual, the summary doesn't tell the whole st (1)

A beautiful mind (821714) | about 9 years ago | (#13311687)

This may be shocking to hear, but summaries are not supposed to tell the whole story.

Anyway, how is a librarian's responsibility to track whether a computer user is a sex offender or not?

You must be new here.

Obvious answer: make sexual offender wear ID (2, Interesting)

gearmonger (672422) | about 9 years ago | (#13311735)

I don't know why this isn't obvious to everyone, but if we have a problem with sexual offenders roaming around anonymously and using public computers to look up pr0n sites, then there's only one solution: make the offender wear a shirt or ID or something that shows everyone that he's not allowed to do certain things. For example, he could be forced to wear a bright orange "SO" t-shirt at all times when in public, just like those yellow drunk driver license plates some states have.

And yes, I'm totally kidding...don't mod me down for being sarcastic. Of course, now I might be modded down for pointing out my sarcasm, thereby negating the humor. Crap.

Computer Access (1)

CSHARP123 (904951) | about 9 years ago | (#13311589)

If it is a job description of librarian to monitor what is being accessed using library computers and he did not do his job then firing him makes sense. My take on this is, if it a policy why not block these websites rather than having somebody monitor. We all know this cannot be a librarian fault. I think somebody wanted a scapegoat and they got one in the name of librarian.

From TFA: (0, Flamebait)

gblues (90260) | about 9 years ago | (#13311594)

Is the best enforcement policy to hold librarians personally responsible for the materials patrons' access?

Well, let's see. In her own words, the suspended librarian writes:

We continually enforce our policy by monitoring all computers. Any suspicious use is immediately checked by accessing the history of the patrons' Web use. In addition, the staff monitors the patrons' use by 'walkthroughs' of the computer areas.

It stands to reason that if some kids are getting away with surfing porno at the library, she's not fulfilling her duty, by her own definition.

Getting caught at incompetency is a pretty common way to get fired; I wouldn't expect her to keep her job very long.


Re:From TFA: (3, Insightful)

LoadWB (592248) | about 9 years ago | (#13311723)

Have you ever tried to police activities by performing walk-throughs? It's damn near impossible, especially when the perpetrator carries no respect for the authorities. I helped oversee a 24 station computer lab for a local middle school, and no matter HOW diligent the lab monitor, each and every computer, without exception, at some point had to be reloaded because a kid or group of kids wound up installing some software which broke it, or downloaded music, or some violation of the usage policy. Even revoking privileges didn't help the situation.

If your duties are, by definition, limited and near impossible, you are doomed to defy those duties.

You're damned if you do, damned if you don't. If you allow full access, the users tend to run amok. If you prevent full access, then it's a challenge and those who circumvent the prevention are lauded as creative and gifted.

Retaliation (1)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | about 9 years ago | (#13311597)

Perhaps this is retaliation by the authorities for the librarians being so vocally opposed to the Patriot Act.

ooh yyeaahh (1)

834r9394557r011 (878286) | about 9 years ago | (#13311611)

lets get retarded, lets get retarded.

Damned if you do... (4, Insightful)

HomerNet (146137) | about 9 years ago | (#13311612)

Here's the lovely Catch-22 that's been set up for this librarian:

Librarians are not allowed by federal law to restrict what people view on the Internet.

Now, the librarians can be suspended/fired for NOT restricting what people view on the Internet.

What the hell is she supposed to do? Punt?

Don't you see!! It's all part of the plan.. (3, Interesting)

Halvy (748070) | about 9 years ago | (#13311765)

Here's the lovely Catch-22 that's been set up for this librarian: Librarians are not allowed by federal law to restrict what people view on the Internet. Now, the librarians can be suspended/fired for NOT restricting what people view on the Internet. What the hell is she supposed to do?

She supposed to do what every other good fanatical amerikan is supposed to do, and just 'shut-up' and make believe that she is guilty-- on BOTH aspects of 'The Law'.

This 'catch 22' is now the norm, with 'the governement' attempting to convince us all how 'bad we are' and how we 'need-them-so-much' to keep us safe from 'ourselves'.

The governments philosophy is clear; make us 'feel' so confused and guilty-- in EVERYTHING that we do (and don't do), that we all feel constantly confused and unsure about what 'the-right-thing-IS-to-do'.

Re:Damned if you do... (1)

kanweg (771128) | about 9 years ago | (#13311824)

Well, the people who view other people wearing their god-given birth costumes will probably not be the people who complain. So, all she'd have to do is keep other people from viewing the computer screens in use. So, she helps privacy invasion. Catch 22 avoided.

Oh ye of little faith. If looking at birth costumes is a sin and viewing the same act in which non-sinners were created (not necessarily true in these days of IVF), don't you trust that God is almighty enough that he'll get after those sinners when they're dead?

Argh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13311635)

Of course this isn't her fault-- since when have we tasked our librarians with being the Morality Police?

If anything, the municipality is to blame for NOT funding a proxy layer (and utilizing a content filter in the form of a whitelist, wordlist, or category product like Smartfilter) for their library's access. Heck, even a client product like NetNanny is thousands of times more effective than asking the attendants to manually enforce the library's appropriate use policy.

Budget arguments are moot, given the range of available web cache products and the number of vendors with state/local stewardship programs available.

-Anonymous Government Stooge

Great! (3, Insightful)

Eminence (225397) | about 9 years ago | (#13311647)

Yes, that's a great policy. This way you motivate librarians to spy on patrons. They then become your agents, your pair of eyes in each library.

Just more nonsense (1)

v1 (525388) | about 9 years ago | (#13311663)

of trying to protect society from doing what it wants to do, compounded by holding everyone in the world accountable for everything anyone else does. (like every person on the planet needs to police the rest of the world or be held liable for what they do)

When will it end? Somehow I'm thining "probably never." *sigh*

When I lived downtown... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13311665)

I lived in a major city in California, in the downtown area. When the library opened, plenty of homeless people would be lined up to get inside, off the streets.

Many would sign up for their thirty minutes at the web browsing computers. And a lot of those would immediately start surfing porn.

The librarians dealt with it by placing carboard "blinders" around the monitors to make it difficult to see what people on the web machines were looking at. I thought that was pretty smart.

If you were really really curious (like me, as I noticed the blinders were suddenly there) you could go to a couple areas of the bookstacks and peek over, and see a hints that it was porn.

I don't care what people are surfing on taxpayer machines, at least in the library. It's not like they are employees or any of that. If no one else can really see what they are doing, who cares? You had to work at it to know what they were surfing in this case.

Large swaths of Amerika are run by retards, what can you say.

From the apostrophe use department (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13311680)

Is the best enforcement policy to hold librarians personally responsible for the materials patrons' access?

They're being too lax about this... (1)

Elrac (314784) | about 9 years ago | (#13311683)

Correct procedure, as for any failing, would have been:

  • Fire her @ss! (suspension is for pansies)
  • Tap her phone, break into her house and dig up all available dirt on her. If none is found, plant some to find.
  • Take her into custody as a material witness to an act of terrorism, hence no lawyer, no outside contact.
  • Transport her to a friendly Middle East country (e.g. Syria) for torture and interrogation.
  • Ship her to Guantanamo.
  • Have her suffer an "accident" during further questioning.
  • Disappear her (some more)
  • Wipe out all evidence she ever existed

...and if that proves insufficient to deter offenders, more rigorous measures should be considered.

Proxy (1) (907371) | about 9 years ago | (#13311684)

They just need setup proxy server and turn on few adult filters. I dont see problem there. -- Alexei A. Korolev Free Downloads [] Discounts for software []

What a ridiculous response. (1)

millennial (830897) | about 9 years ago | (#13311695)

If a kid brings a gun to school and shoots people in his classroom, is the teacher responsible?
If a man stabs his wife while visiting his parents, are his parents responsible?
If a police officer shoots an innocent man while in the presence of his superior, is the superior responsible?
None of these make any sense. Why should a head librarian be responsible for something that happened in his or her presence that he or she had no control over whatsoever?

Librarians (2, Insightful)

yar (170650) | about 9 years ago | (#13311696)

The library policy did say that they would monitor access. But constant monitoring is impossible. There are issues with monitoring in general: you don't want to invade patrons' privacy and you don't want to restrict adults' rights. But as everyone here should know, filtering is an ineffective solution. Filtering is also required for federal funding. Rock and hard place.

My reaction (1)

Cytlid (95255) | about 9 years ago | (#13311698)

to this was, if the librarian can't be a network security specialist, sure fire her.

  Note the sarcasm in there... the internet is more than just a big reference. This isn't a card catalog with the dewey decimal system.

  After reading how they prevent these incidents, it's pretty pathetic. Imagine "Martin" in the article is head of IT instead of head librarian:

The Sun quoted a letter Martin had written to Billingsley in which she explained, "We continually enforce our policy by monitoring all computers. Any suspicious use is immediately checked by accessing the history of the patrons' Web use. In addition, the staff monitors the patrons' use by 'walkthroughs' of the computer areas."

Seems pretty sad doesn't it?

Typical Current Attitude (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 9 years ago | (#13311699)

Blame anyone other then the actual person at fault.

Its always someone else's fault, they are just victims.

How to get your local librarian fired (0, Troll)

DrIdiot (816113) | about 9 years ago | (#13311711)

How to get your local librarian fired: 1) Upload the porn to your private online server 2) View the porn on your private server at the library 3) Keep the cache intact. 4) Contact the authorities and inform them that someone has been looking at porn on library computers. 5) Laugh mirthlessly as you watch your librarian being led away in handcuffs.

my expertise i am a network admin at a public libr (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13311751)

Most libraries have an acceptable use policy. Wich protects the librarians all over the place.

It says that librarians are not held responsible for the content of what the patron is doing. Adult rated stuff is prohibited and serious consiquences will be used if a patron is found looking at such material.

spying on patrons? this is fasicsm! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13311764)

This is fascism at work and a growing danger to our last bit of privacy. How do you even define "adult" material, what are the damages from viewing it, why should a librarian be punished for a patrons actions, and most importantly: WHO IS ILLEGALLY SPYING ON PATRONS OF PUBLIC LIBRARIES?

The Librarian? (1)

le_jfs (627582) | about 9 years ago | (#13311810)

Did anyone else picture a 300 pounds orang utan?
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