LOCAL News :: Surveillance/censorship

Springfield, IL: Libraries fight computer restrictions

Libraries fight computer restrictions
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Public libraries throughout Illinois took the political battle over Internet freedom directly to their own patrons on Monday, lobbying libraries' computer users to oppose state legislation requiring software that filters out pornography.

As part of a loosely coordinated, one-day statewide campaign, libraries in the Metro East area passed out fliers, bookmarks and, in one case, installed computer screensavers — all calling attention to what librarians say is an onerous proposal that would infringe on the budgets of libraries and the privacy rights of library patrons.

A handful of libraries in other parts of the state made that point by shutting down their own Internet services for the day.

The Illinois Family Institute, which is promoting the legislation, claimed the lobbying efforts may have been an illegal use of public resources.

"Librarians are government employees. If they want to lobby on their own time, that's fine, but don't do it on my dime," said David E. Smith, the institute's director.

Most public libraries have anti-porn policies, and many already have filtering software in place to adhere to federal funding requirements. But the proposed state law would go further, being specifically tied to state library grants and imposing new requirements that librarians claim are philosophically and logistically troublesome.

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Source: "Glances at History" (suppressed)

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