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Library board postpones by-laws vote about internet filtering

 

A hearing about the Library board’s internet filtering philosophy was held at the library last Tuesday evening. About 20 concerned citizens attended the meeting which was put together by the library board to let people know that the concerns of the community are very important and will continue to be addressed.

 

In August, 2002, the library board set up a committee to investigate the pros and cons of filtering the library’s computers against objectionable materials. The committee polled some libraries in northern Illinois to help discover how communities feel in the area. 

Recently the library trustees approved the installation of filtering software on the one  children’s computer on the second floor of the library. The computers on the first floor were not scheduled for filtering.

 

Most Library Directors, including Nippersink’s Kathryn Hausman, are steadfastly opposed to any action which impedes a citizens’ right to access information. The American Library Association mirrors this philosophy.

 

The regular board meeting immediately followed the one and one-half hour hearing in which both sides of the issue were equally represented.  The opinions ranged from no filtering at all to complete filtering of all computers in the library with no option given to the patrons. Another option discussed is the possibility for parents to “opt-in” for filtering of the computer their child would be using. This method leaves the computers unfiltered until someone asks for the filtering option to be used while the child (or adult) is actively using a specific computer. This “opt-in” method carried much support at the hearing.

 

Former Richmond/Burton High School Superintendent, Ron Erdman, attended the meeting. “It is for the parent to decide,” he said. “We have an obligation to protect our children. This is public policy in our nation.”

 

Richmond resident, Bruce Young, said, “Our library staff says that filtering is totally unnecessary. We are creating an issue here that is not a crisis. There seems to be some other motivation involved. The filtering of computers is just the beginning of several stages. I don’t want the religious right to control my library.”

 

Another resident said, “This issue is of sufficient importance. Why aren’t we getting more response (from the library board)? I would like more input from the community. My big issue is choice.”

 

In order to clear the way for filtering, the board needed to vote to change the library policy manual regarding this issue. However, the actual vote was tabled to until the next regular meeting in June. Trustee opinions varied about how this policy should be written. 

 

In other business, two newly elected trustees, Michael Champion and Adam Metz, were given the oath of office. Champion worked as assistant librarian at the Nippersink Library recently. Metz is a long term resident of Richmond.

 

New officers were elected. Champion: board president. Jan Erdman: vice-president; Adam Metz: Secretary; Sandra Alldredge: Treasurer.

 

After Memorial Day (May 25th) the Summer Reading Program will begin.

 

The library’s web address has been changed to www.nippersinklibrary.org.

 

 

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