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Orland Park Library Board hears arguments about porn filters on computers

Updated: December 20, 2013 6:38AM



Whether filters should be installed on some computers at the Orland Park Public Library to restrict access to pornographic or other objectionable websites was the subject of heated debate at Monday’s library board meeting.

Shouting and verbal sparring among audience members punctuated the meeting. Some residents asked board members to tread cautiously in considering such filters. Other library patrons argued that stronger safeguards are necessary.

The board did not take action Monday on the issue of filters, which it has been examining since the easy access to porn sites was questioned by some patrons in recent weeks. The library recently implemented a policy requiring patrons using those computers to show photo identification with proof of age.

Mayor Dan McLaughlin has asked board members in a letter to consider filters for computers in the library’s adult area, which is restricted to patrons 18 and older.

Opponents of filters said they could block access to legitimate sites. Parents who bring their children to the library said filters are a needed protection.

In asking the board to install computer filters, Kate Rimkunas, a mother of four who said she’s a regular visitor to the library, said she’s concerned that her children “may see something obscene or offensive.”

Computers in the children’s and young-adult sections have filters.

Rimkunas, a village resident, said she would no longer patronize the library unless the adult computers had the filters.

Resident Bernie Kopera said library staff members already take precautions to safeguard children from offensive material and questioned the need for the filters.

“How much government do we want in our personal lives?” he asked.

Some residents dismissed the idea that visitors to the library are routinely viewing porn on the computers. But a former library employee who worked in the adult section claimed it was common knowledge among staffers that some regular patrons used the computers to visit porn sites.

Being “in the presence of porn watchers for hours” was something that “did not make for a pleasant [work] atmosphere,” said Linda Zec, who worked at the library for a year. She asked the board to consider a “strong no-porn policy” and adopt the Internet filters.

Another resident, Alexandra Callewaert, said her 14-year-old daughter often goes into the adult section to do research for schoolwork. Callewaert urged board members to filter Internet access.

“Are they [filters] going to be perfect? No,” she said. “But why not have every possible safeguard?”



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