LA City Council Members Address High Rates of Porn Use in Public Libraries

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Public libraries should be spaces that enable people of all ages to embrace knowledge and discover new ideas without the fear of accidentally being exposed to graphic material. Unfortunately, the family friendly environment of Los Angeles libraries is being threatened by high rates of pornography viewing on their public computers.

A report recently published by NBC4 states that some patrons are viewing pornography on library computers, and the content is easily visible to other patrons, including children. The report also discovered issues of drug use and lewd behavior that have occurred at some branches.

In light of this report, some local officials have decided to take action. The LA Daily News published an article about two LA City Council members, David Ryu and Nury Martinez, who introduced a motion requiring all 73 libraries in Los Angeles to install software filters on computers to block graphic material.

Ryu stated, “Libraries are places of learning—they are a place for communities to connect, for individuals to empower themselves with information, and for children to grow and explore. They are not a place for lewd content or behavior.”

Ryu and Martinez also proposed a second motion to establish increased cooperation between the Los Angeles Public Library and the Los Angeles Police Department to ensure that all security incidents at libraries are reported to the police department.

The subject of pornography in public libraries is not new to Los Angeles officials. In 2011, the City Council voted against a measure to install software filters on library computers because of fears of violating the First Amendment. These fears were unfounded, however, according to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Ginsberg v. the State of New York, which states that child pornography, obscenity, and other content “harmful to minors” is not protected under the First Amendment. The council decided instead to invest in privacy screens for the computers, and the report details that these screens are quite ineffective.

In addition, the report includes multiple stories of patrons viewing X-rated materials near areas designated for children, which highlights an even greater need for the legislation proposed by Ryu and Martinez.

As Martinez said, “Libraries are supposed to be for learning, not lewdness.” It is time for libraries to be restored to their original purpose of learning.

Check out the Safe School Safe Libraries campaign for more information on how you can fight pornography in public libraries.

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