Pornography? Not in Our Library!
Field, Dorothy, American Libraries
Remember the pre-Internet days? We built collections and developed procedures for easy and efficient dissemination and retrieval. In the forefront of our procedures manuals were our Materials Selection Policies, which outlined the scope and depth of our collections, the principles of intellectual freedom, and the library's responsibility to represent all sides of controversial issues. We had tried-and-tested procedures that gave us control over our collections and accountability when challenged by those who thought the library should be something else.
It soon became evident that the text coming through the Net did not carry with it a stamp of integrity. The Internet knew no boundaries, and no one checked the information for accuracy. Our disclaimers delicately stated that we are proud to offer you the Net, but if some of the information you view is not correct, don't blame us.
With the introduction of the Internet, we found ourselves dealing with issues that didn't seem to have relevance to the old rules. Ever eager to enhance our collections with additional and obscure resources expanding the scope and depth of print material, we plunged in and sought the funding to support this new mode of information delivery.
First came the Freenets, which introduced us to online government and consumer information and included links to the newly developed Internet that most libraries could only support in text mode. We applauded this leap into the new generation of information retrieval, which was our first glimpse of the potential of libraries online.
Another giant leap occurred when libraries were able to afford full graphic interface. This opened up incredible capabilities of providing charts, maps, graphics - presentations far more attractive than the earlier generation of typewritten text on a green screen. Unfortunately, this technology also came to the attention of the marketers of hard-core pornography.
The perversion of your choice
Pornography has always been with us, from the earliest days of civilization, but never has there been a more effective tool for marketing this material and attracting new consumers than the Internet. Just think about it: Previously, one had to drive to an adult bookstore and walk in to buy or view material of this (dare I say?) genre. This takes some effort and the risk that the viewer may be seen. But now, in the privacy of home, and even from some libraries, one can, with very little effort, call up such choice sites as "Sexcentral," which will guide you to the perversion of your choice.
How do we justify offering pornography in the public library? Is it just something that comes with the total package? Is it the right of the taxpayer to have access to pornography in the public library simply because it exists? …