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LA committee to consider porn in libraries

April 12, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Should patrons be allowed to watch Internet pornography on city library computers? The Los Angeles City Council is trying to sort out the issue after it received complaints about pornography on library computers where anyone could see it. The complaints started in Chinatown.

The City Council has asked the City Attorney to come up with a plan to balance keeping children away from the porn sites but yet allow adults their First Amendment rights to view them.

In January a homeless man logged onto a pornography website in one of the computers at the Chinatown branch of the L.A. Public Library System.

After complaints from library users about the site being in plain sight, an L.A. City Council committee is looking into what it could do to limit porn access at public library computers.

So far, it's the only incident reported.

City Councilman Ed Reyes heads up the committee looking into the First Amendment issue.

"We want to maintain the sanctuary for our children and our families in the library without violating First Amendment rights. So how does that get accomplished?" said Reyes.

According to L.A. City Librarian Martin Gomez, there are approximately 2,400 computers within the library system that are publically accessible. What they've done at branches, he says, is to have separate children and adult computer areas.

"We have what we call 'privacy screens,' which are actually put over the screens of the computers to basically have whatever the person is doing on the computer as a private session," said Gomez.

L.A. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich has been given the task to come up with a plan to protect children and First Amendment rights of adults.

Angelenos voiced strong opinions on not allowing any access to pornographic material at public library computers.

"I think it would be good for the kids if it's more for education. But anything else I disagree with," said L.A. resident Mike Austin.

"I don't think it should be in a public library because you have children, adults -- I just don't think it's a good thing," said L.A. resident Pearlie Davis.

Trutanich is due back to report to the City Council in a couple weeks with a plan.