The Chicago Public Library protects the open and rampant use of Internet pornography by library patrons. This blog is an attempt to bring awareness to this issue and enact change.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Filing a Complaint...

I visited the library again this morning.

The good news is that I was able to meet CPL librarian, Laura Morgan. I plan to write more about Ms. Morgan and all of the work that she has done in regards to the issue of pornography in the library - so stay tuned and check back! Ms. Morgan is a true warrior and I've been very impressed with a lot of the work she's done. It was an honor to meet her.

The not-so-good news was that it was incredibly difficult to file a formal written complaint. As readers of the blog know, I've made considerable effort to contact library officials through phone calls and letters. However, wise counsel suggested I file a formal written complaint with the library - leaving it officially on the record - and searchable in case of legal action.

A formal written complaint seemed like such an foreign concept to everyone. I asked the guard by the 3rd floor bag check. He used his walkie-talkie to signal over a supervisor. The supervisor asked what it was about. I told him. He replied "we can't do anything about that". I said, "I just want to formally file a complaint". He would have been happy to just leave it there, but another guard spoke up and was nice enough to take me up to the 4th floor. On the way up the escalator, that guard said "you know there's privacy screens, right?" Yes, I know there's screens. (Not that they stopped me from seeing anything).

On the 4th floor, the guard asked to speak with someone and we waited. Unfortunately, I didn't catch his name, but he seemed genuinely nice. After some searching for a form, I was given a generic form for Comments and Opinions. There was some confusion about who I should send it too. And I was also given email addresses for Ms. Dempsey and Ms. Bever, even though I've reached out to both of them already regarding this issue. I wrote about my experience on Saturday, 9/28 and handed it in a sealed envelope to a librarian who helped us find the form. It was recommended that I send the official complaint to Ms. Bever, so I did.

Overall - it was such a weird experience. It seemed almost like there is either no system already in place for accepting formal, written complaints - or they were actively trying to dissuade me from doing so. Either way - I have no way of knowing if there will even be a record that I filed a complaint. {sigh}

Read more!


I had a great conversation with a fellow warrior against open porn in public libraries - David E. Smith, the Executive Director of Illinois Family Institute (IFI).
Remarkably, this issue has been around for quite awhile now - about ten years.

He spent a lot of time in Springfield, working to enact legislation. There was some headway made with the intro of HB1727, but it's been stalled since May of '07.
Here's the full text of HB1727.

Read more!

Friday, October 17, 2008

My Letters to the CPL Board of Directors

A similar letter was sent to each of the seven members of the CPL Board of Directors, complete with enclosures of current Public Computer Use Policies for various cities across our country.

October 17, 2008

Jane Carr Thompson
Board of Directors, President
Chicago Public Library
Commissioner’s Office, 10N
400 S. State St.
Chicago, IL 60605

Dear President Thompson:
I am a proud resident of Chicago and an appreciator of public libraries. Although I’ve recently obtained my own Chicago Public Library card, I am not new to public libraries and have been a patron of this wonderful resource since childhood. However, an alarming issue regarding the CPL has jolted me into action recently – the use of Internet pornography in the Harold Washington branch.

I was first made aware of this issue a few weeks ago while visiting the library to help friends of mine use the computers. From where I was sitting I noticed several patrons openly using Internet pornography. In spite of privacy screens, I was able to see, without effort, obscene and graphic sex acts being displayed on several screens. The circumstances truly made me feel that I was in a sexually threatening environment. After inquiring about the policies for computer use, I was told by a librarian that patron use of pornography in Chicago Public Libraries is a “Right”. I was also told that I was not allowed to politely tell these patrons that I was offended or ask them to stop because “it might offend them”. I am embarrassed that the CPL protects the open use of hard-core pornography by patrons.

According to Chicago Ordinance 2-64-020, the Board of Directors has the authority to govern the library as they see fit. I’m writing this letter to ask you to ban pornography from open and public areas in the Chicago Public Library system in order to maintain a safe and non-threatening environment for everyone.

I understand that this issue is not new to Chicago and I’m sure you’ve faced it before. However, it is possible to maintain a public library that supports Intellectual Freedom that is also a safe and non-threatening environment for everyone to work and live in. Cities across our nation are dealing with the same issue of censorship versus pornographic obscenity in our public libraries and many cities have devised working solutions to this issue. Enclosed are several Public Computer User Agreement Policies from a variety of cities and libraries for your reference.

Letters similar to this one are being sent to the other members on the Board of Directors. It is your responsibility to provide a safe and non-threatening public library environment for EVERYONE. I ask that you address this issue with the Board at the earliest possible meeting, and I urge you to consider implementing any combination of the many enclosed examples of solutions for this issue that are successfully in use in public libraries across our nation.

Amanda Bratschie


2-64-020 Board of directors – Statutory authority.
The board of directors provided for by statute and appointed in accordance therewith shall have control and management of all matters pertaining to the Chicago Public Library in accordance with the provisions of the Illinois Local Library Act, as amended. The board shall have the authority to rent out rooms and space within library buildings for private use, but in no event shall any such rental exceed one day or be for the purpose of sale of any thing or service to library patrons, except with the prior approval of the city council. The form of such rental agreements shall be subject to approval of the corporation counsel. The board in its bylaws may impose reasonable fees for the borrowing of films and recordings, as well as reasonable charges for the late return or failure to return library materials of any nature. Nothing in this section or in the bylaws of the board prohibits or restricts the right of the city to prosecute any person under Sections 2-64-040 and 2-64-050 of this Code.
(Prior code § 23-2; Amend Coun. J. 11-17-93, p. 42192)

For the purposes of the blog, the following Public Computer Use Policies were enclosed in the letters:
Boston Globe article, "Libraries Vary in Strategy on Porn"
New York Public Library
Concord Public Library
Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library
Minneapolis Public Library
Chicago Heights Public Library

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It doesn't make sense...

People just don't expect to have access to hard-core pornography in public libraries.

There's just so much about this that doesn't make sense. Let's take another look at the Chicago City Ordinances and ponder...

According to City Ordinance 8-8-080:
It's not okay for someone to show their own genitals in public. No - they would get arrested, or at the very least, fined. Even if it's only being shown - not necessarily even used in a lewd act.
Why is our public library leadership convinced that that any 'adult' person can show other people's genitals at a public library computer - or it's censorship?
8-8-080 Indecent exposure or dress.

Any person who shall appear, bathe, sunbathe, walk or be in any public park, playground, beach or the waters adjacent thereto, or any school facility and the area adjacent thereto, or any municipal building and the areas adjacent thereto, or any public way within the City of Chicago in such a manner that the genitals, vulva, pubis, pubic hair, buttocks, perineum, anus, anal region, or pubic hair region of any person, or any portion of the breast at or below the upper edge of the areola thereof of any female person, is exposed to public view or is not covered by an opaque covering, shall be fined not less than $100.00 nor more than $500.00 for each offense.

(Prior code § 192-8; Amend Coun. J. 12-4-02, p. 99931, § 5.4)

According to City Ordinance 8-8-030:
Prostitution in Chicago is illegal - most of chapter 8 is all about prostitution (with the exception of some train tickets and tampering with phone booths). Why can our public libraries aid open acts of prostitution by protecting hard-core pornography use? After all, the 'actors' and 'actresses' are prostituting themselves by exchanging sex for money. Why does it magically become a "Right" when you openly watch a video or image of other people prostituting themselves? And why is it a "Right" to watch it where everyone else has to see it too?
8-8-030 Prostitution or lewdness in conveyances.

No person shall knowingly receive any person for purposes of lewdness, assignation, or prostitution into or upon any vehicle or other conveyance or permit any person to remain for any of the said purposes in or upon any such vehicle or other conveyance.

Any person that shall violate the provisions of this section shall be fined not less than $100.00 nor more than $400.00 for each offense.

(Prior code § 192-3; Amend Coun. J. 9-4-02, p. 92888, § 1)

8-8-010 House of ill-fame or assignation.

Every house of ill-fame or house of assignation where men and women resort for the purpose of fornication, prostitution, or lewdness is hereby declared to be a nuisance.

No person shall keep or maintain a house of ill- fame or assignation, or a place for the practice of fornication, prostitution, or lewdness. Each 24 hours that such house or place shall be kept or maintained for such purpose shall constitute a separate and distinct offense.

No person shall patronize, frequent, be found in, or be an inmate of any such house or place used for any of the purposes set forth in this section.

No person shall lease to another any house, room, or other premises, in whole or in part, for any of the uses or purposes set forth in this section or knowingly permit the same to be used or occupied for such purposes.

(Prior code § 192-1)

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Monday, October 13, 2008

My follow-up Letter to Alderman Fioretti

October 13, 2008

Robert W. Fioretti
Chicago Alderman – 2nd Ward
City Hall Office
121 North LaSalle Street
Room 300, Office 02
Chicago, IL 60602

Alderman Fioretti -

Thank you again for taking the time to call me on Thursday evening. I appreciate having the opportunity to voice my concerns with you.

You had mentioned a technology that would keep pornographic sites in their own domain. I believe something along these lines may be a good step to a long-term solution for this problem. As I mentioned, I found a similar technology, CP80:
(And some criticism of that approach:

However, regardless of which approach we take for a long-term solution, we still need to take steps towards banning pornography in our public libraries now. Many libraries have found workable solutions to this issue, not involving filters, using one or more of the approaches listed below:
  • Stated and publicly displayed policy regarding the appropriate use of public computers and explicitly stating that viewing pornography is not allowed or tolerated. (Policies regarding cell phone and general library use are currently posted in the Harold Washington branch.)

  • Each user agreeing to a User Agreement Policy (banning pornography) by clicking "I agree" before each session can start, or signing an agreement before using this public resource.

  • Librarians sending pop-up messages to offending patrons screens, asking them to leave that particular site.

  • Asking patrons that violate the library's Public Computer Use Policy to leave for the day.

  • Temporarily revoking library privileges (in increased lengths of time) for repeat offenders.
(Please note: I have not mentioned Internet filters in this list. Although it has been argued that filters "do not work", it has also been argued that filtering technology has improved greatly since it was first introduced, and blocked sites can be unblocked for legitimate research needs.)

I've also included several Public Computer Use Policies from various libraries to bring awareness of how other Public Libraries have successfully dealt with this very issue.

Amanda Bratschie

In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.
~Theodore Roosevelt

For the blog only - the articles and policies attached are:

* Brookfield Free Public Library Public Computer Use Policy
* Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Internet Use/Safety Policy
* The New York Public Library Policy on Public Use of the Internet
* Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library Public Computer Use Policy
* Boston Globe article, "Libraries vary in strategy on porn"

Read more!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

My Conversation with Alderman Fioretti

All of my letters and phone calls have finally paid off -
Alderman Robert Fioretti called me earlier tonight. He expressed that pornography in our public libraries is indeed a problem. However, he didn't seem to think that filters were the answer. (Regular readers of the blog will remember that I've never pushed filters as the ONLY answer to this problem anyway). There was no specific resolution at the end of our call, but Alderman Fioretti promised to think about the issue and come up with a serious solution to a serious problem.

I feel another letter coming on...
Read more!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Contact Information for Elected Officials

The Illinois State Board of Elections website has an amazing tool called "District/Official Search". Just follow the link below. After you enter your address, you'll be presented with contact information for the Congressional, Legislative (Senate), Representative and Statewide Elected Officials.

When you have that contact information, I urge you to reach out to these people and let them know that you don't want our tax dollars used to fund open pornography use in our Public Libraries. There's a push in this struggle to urge our State lawmakers to withhold State funding from our Public Libraries if they continue to protect these illegal materials in our Public Libraries.

Read more!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Chicago City Ordinances

Click "Read more" for all of the Ordinances and information I have found for the City of Chicago regarding obscenity laws, material harmful to minors and even false statements. I found all of this information online at


1-21-010 False statements.

Any person who knowingly makes a false statement of material fact to the city in violation of any statute, ordinance or regulation, or who knowingly falsifies any statement of material fact made in connection with an application, report, affidavit, oath, or attestation, including a statement of material fact made in connection with a bid, proposal, contract or economic disclosure statement or affidavit, is liable to the city for a civil penalty of not less than $500.00 and not more than $1,000.00, plus up to three times the amount of damages which the city sustains because of the person's violation of this section. A person who violates this section shall also be liable for the city's litigation and collection costs and attorney's fees.

The penalties imposed by this section shall be in addition to any other penalty provided for in the municipal code.

(Added Coun. J. 12-15-04, p. 39915, § 1)

1-21-030 Enforcement.

In addition to any other means authorized by law, the corporation counsel may enforce this chapter by instituting an action with the department of administrative hearings.

(Added Coun. J. 12-15-04, p. 39915, § 1)

This Code of Ordinances and/or any other documents that appear on this site may not reflect the most current legislation adopted by the Municipality. American Legal Publishing Corporation provides these documents for informational purposes only. These documents should not be relied upon as the definitive authority for local legislation. Additionally, the formatting and pagination of the posted documents varies from the formatting and pagination of the official copy. The official printed copy of a Code of Ordinances should be consulted prior to any action being taken.

For further information regarding the official version of any of this Code of Ordinances or other documents posted on this site, please contact the Municipality directly or contact American Legal Publishing toll-free at 800-445-5588.

8-8-090 Indecent publications and exhibitions.

It shall be unlawful for any person knowingly to exhibit, sell, print, offer to sell, give away, circulate, publish, distribute, or attempt to distribute any obscene book, magazine, pamphlet, paper, writing, card, advertisement, circular, print, picture, photograph, motion picture film, play, image, instrument, statue, drawing, or other article which is obscene. Any person violating any provisions of this section shall be fined not less than $20.00 nor more than $200.00 for each offense.

Obscene for the purpose of this section is defined as follows: whether to the average person, applying contemporary community standards, the dominant theme of the material taken as a whole appeals to prurient interests.

(Prior code § 192-9)

8-8-110 Material harmful to minors unlawful.

A. For the purposes of this section the following words shall be defined as follows:

(a) "Minor" means any person under the age of 18 years.

(b) "Nudity" means the showing of the human male or female genitals, pubic area or buttocks with less than a fully opaque covering, or the showing of the female breast with less than a full opaque covering of any portion thereof below the top of the nipple, or the depiction of covered male genitals in a discernible turgid state.

(c) "Sexual conduct" includes any of the following depicted sexual conduct:

(i) Any act of sexual intercourse, actual or simulated, including genital, anal-genital, or oral- genital intercourse, whether between human beings or between a human being and an animal;

(ii) Sadomasochistic abuse, meaning flagellation or torture by or upon a person who is nude or clad in undergarments or in a revealing costume or the condition of being fettered, bound or otherwise physically restricted on the part of one so clothed;

(iii) Masturbation or lewd exhibitions of the genitals including any explicit, closeup representation of a human genital organ;

(iv) Physical contact or simulated physical contact with the clothed or unclothed pubic areas or buttocks of a human male or female, or the breasts of the female, whether alone or between members of the same or opposite sex or between humans and animals in an act of apparent sexual stimulation or gratification;

(v) An act of sexual assault where physical violence or drugs are employed to overcome the will of or achieve the consent of a person to an act of sexual conduct and the effects or results of the violence or drugs are shown.

(d) "Sexual excitement" means the condition of human male or female genitals when in a state of sexual stimulation or arousal.

(e) "Harmful to minors" means that quality of any description or representation in whatever form, or nudity, sexual conduct, or sexual excitement, when it:

(i) Predominantly appeals to the prurient, shameful, or morbid interest of minors in sex; and

(ii) Is patently offensive to contemporary standards in the adult community as a whole with respect to what is suitable sexual material for minors; and

(iii) Taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.

(f) "Knowingly" means having general knowledge of, or reason to know, or a belief or ground for belief which warrants further inspection or inquiry or both.

B. It is unlawful for any person knowingly to sell or loan for monetary consideration to a minor any written, photographic, printed, sound, published material or videotape, or similar visual representation or image of a person or portion of the human body which depicts nudity, sexual conduct, or sexual excitement and which is harmful to minors.

It is unlawful for any person commercially and knowingly to exhibit, display, sell, offer to sell, lend, give away, circulate, distribute, or attempt to distribute any written, photographic, printed, sound, published material or videotape which is harmful to minors in its context in any place where minors are or may be present or allowed to be present and where minors are able to view such material unless each item of such material is at all times kept in a sealed wrapper.

It is also unlawful for any person commercially and knowingly to exhibit, display, sell, offer to sell, give away, circulate, distribute, or attempt to distribute, any written, photographic, printed, sound, published material or videotape whose cover, covers, or packaging, standing alone, is harmful to minors, in any place where minors are to be present and where minors are able to view such material unless each item of such material is at all times blocked from view by an opaque cover. The requirement of an opaque cover shall be deemed satisfied concerning such material if those portions of the cover, covers, or packaging containing such material harmful to minors are blocked from view by an opaque cover.

The provisions of this subdivision shall not apply to distribution or attempt to distribute the exhibition, display, sale, offer of sale, circulation, giving away of material harmful to minors where such material is sold, exhibited, displayed, offered for sale, given away, circulated, distributed, or attempted to be distributed under circumstances where minors are not present, not allowed to be present, or are not able to view such material or the cover, covers, or packaging of such material. Any business may comply with the requirements of this clause by physically segregating such material in a manner so as to physically prohibit the access to and view of the material by minors, by prominently posting at the entrance(s) to such restricted area, "Adults Only – you must be 18 to enter", and by enforcing said restrictions.

(Prior code § 192-10.1; Amend Coun. J. 11-26-86, p. 37627; Amend Coun. J. 7-29-87, p. 2824)

8-8-120 Violation – Penalty for Section 8-8-110.

Any person violating any of the provisions of Section 8-8-110 shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be fined in an amount not less than $100.00 nor more than $200.00 or be imprisoned for a period not exceeding six months or be both so fined and imprisoned. Each day that such violation is committed or permitted to continue shall constitute a separate offense and shall be punishable as such hereunder. If more than one written, photographic, printed, sound, published material or videotape shall knowingly be sold, lent, displayed, offered to be sold, given away, circulated, distributed or in any way furnished or attempted to be furnished to any such person in violation of Section 8-8-110, the sale, loan, display, offer to sell, giving away, circulation, distribution or in any way furnishing or attempting to furnish to any such person of each separate written, photographic, printed, sound, published material or videotape shall constitute a separate offense and shall be punished as such hereunder.

(Prior code § 192-10.2; Amend Coun. J. 11-26-86, p. 37627)

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Monday, October 6, 2008

My Letter to Alderman Fioretti

October 6, 2008

Robert W. Fioretti

Chicago Alderman – 2nd Ward

429 S. Dearborn Street

Chicago, IL 60605

Dear Alderman Fioretti:

I am a proud resident of our beloved city, Chicago. However, I recently discovered an embarrassing blemish about our city – this blemish is the open and rampant use of Internet pornography in Chicago Public Libraries. My husband and I became aware of this issue at the Harold Washington branch last Saturday, September 27th. In addition to the initial shock of public obscenity, I was told by the librarian on staff that this is a "Right" and that I'm not allowed to politely tell the patrons using pornography that I'm offended because it "might offend them".

I have tried to contact your office twice last week regarding this issue. Also, I've started the blog My goal is to bring awareness to this issue of forced pornographic obscenity in our Chicago Public Libraries and to enact change as well.

The CPL absolves itself of responsibility for this issue by stating that it’s only following the lead of the American Library Association (ALA), which cites First Amendment rights. Although the ALA does recommend that all public libraries maintain open, unfettered access to the Internet, each city is able to make policies and regulations for its own citizens. New York City and Boston, among many other cities, already ban pornography use on Public Library computers.

Chicago needs to follow the lead of these cities and ban pornography use in our Public Libraries as well. There are many ways to do this without infringing on speech actually protected by the First Amendment. (Obscenity is not protected by the First Amendment.) New York City uses an Internet filter system and a library near Boston does not use filters at all, but instead, utilizes a stated public policy enforced by temporarily revoking library privileges of repeat offenders.

I believe it's possible to have a Public Library that supports Intellectual Freedom while being a safe and non-harassing environment in which to work and live.

I am seeking legislation and awareness. I am seeking change.

What is your stance on this issue? What will you do to enact change? What will you do to help make our Public Library a safer, non-threatening environment?

I look forward to your response,

Amanda Bratschie

Read more!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Some Ridiculous Pro-porn-in-the-library Arguments...

I’ve heard several ridiculous arguments for people that are pro-porn in our Public Libraries. Here are just a few:
  • “What about the kids? Whatever - kids are going to find porn anyway. If they want to see it – they will.”
    • This is horrible logic! And most people making this argument don’t even have kids! Kids might want to smoke and experiment with illegal drugs too, but that doesn’t mean that you should use taxpayer dollars to make an ample supply freely and anonymously available, without parental consent or even parental knowledge, to every kid that wants it. Just because kids might have another way to access pornography doesn't mean that we need to hand them this access on a silver platter – no strings attached – in our public libraries.
    • What about kids involved on the other side of the camera? There have been several instances of patrons viewing child pornography in Public Libraries. (Perhaps they do this at the library instead of at home to avoid detection and remain anonymous). Child porn is ILLEGAL. In one of the more famous recent cases, a librarian in California was allegedly fired for turning a patron into the police after the second time that she caught that patron viewing child porn. For more information on this case, follow any of the below links:
  • “What about those that don’t have the means to watch this elsewhere? Now you’re separating the ‘haves’ from the ‘have-nots.’”
    • First of all, we need to consider the other side of this argument. What about those that don’t want to watch second-hand porn and don’t have the means to use the Internet elsewhere? By protecting open pornography use, you are forcing the patrons who don’t want to be in that environment to make the choice between porn-libraries or no Internet at all.
    • Secondly, just because someone can’t afford pornography doesn’t mean that it’s the taxpayers’ responsibility to provide it. Voting is a Right. Owning land (that you can afford) is a Right. But viewing pornography is not an American-given Right.

Read more!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

NYPL Policy on Public Use of the Internet

NYC, a stereotypically liberal city, seems to have a good program in place for this issue. Although they've chosen to use Internet filters, they provide ways for patrons to unblock sites that are legitimately protected speech as per the First Amendment.

To read their complete posted policy, follow the url below.
Read more!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

What Constitutes Obscenity?

Obscenity was defined by the Supreme Court in the 1973 Miller vs. California case (now known as the Miller test. This is also the same case of the famous "I'll know it when I see it.")
Please click the following link for more detailed information on the Miller test:

Basically, the Miller test states that that a work is subject to the local community regulations as to if the work, taken a complete piece, appeals to the prurient interest in sex; and, taken as whole, does not have serious artistic, political, or scientific value.

The test is 3-part, as below:
"The basic guidelines for the trier of fact must be:

(a) whether "the average person, applying contemporary community standards" would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest, [Roth, supra, at 489,]

(b) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law, and

(c) whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value. If a state obscenity law is thus limited, First Amendment values are adequately protected by ultimate independent appellate review of constitutional claims when necessary. [Pp. 24-25.]" ( definition of "prurient" Unabridged (v 1.1) - Cite This Source - Share This pru·ri·ent [proor-ee-uhnt] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
1.having, inclined to have, or characterized by lascivious or lustful thoughts, desires, etc.
2.causing lasciviousness or lust.
3.having a restless desire or longing.

[Origin: 1630–40; <>prūrient- (s. of prūriéns), prp. of prūrīre to itch]

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My Letter to Library Commissioner, Mary A. Dempsey

October 2, 2008

Mary A. Dempsey
Library Commissioner
Chicago Public Library
400 S. State St.
Chicago, IL 60605

Dear Commissioner Dempsey:

I am a resident of our beloved city, Chicago, and I am writing to express my concern about the open and rampant use of Internet pornography in the Harold Washington branch of the Chicago Public Library. I was first made aware of this issue when visiting the library this past weekend. After inquiring about the policies for computer use, I was told that patron use of pornography in Chicago Public Libraries is protected as a “Right”. I understand the importance of the First Amendment and I do believe that the Right to Free Speech is paramount.

However, the First Amendment does not protect obscenity and the images I was exposed to in the Public Library fail the three-pronged Miller test for obscenity. Also, I do not believe that the First Amendment enables the patrons who choose to use pornography in public to also have the right to subject others to these graphic images.

It is important to note that the arrangement of computers in the Harold Washington branch make the content of several workstations easily visible from the reading tables without effort, regardless of privacy screen use. Further, this arrangement allows very clear viewing of the row immediately in front of any workstation. Again, without effort.

I called your office Tuesday, September 30th, to address my concerns and spoke with Assistant Library Commissioner, Greta Bever. I feel that Ms. Bever did not adequately address my concern, but was more interested in defending the open display of pornography as a “Right” and in implying that I was wrongfully invading the privacy of other patrons. Ms. Bever also mentioned that Chicago Public Libraries are under the guidance of the American Library Association (ALA).

From what I could find on their website, I understand that the ALA has openly advocated that Public Libraries maintain open and unfettered access to the Internet in the interest of Intellectual Freedom. However, I also realize that every city is allowed to make its own policies and guidelines for Internet use.

Most cities across our nation are dealing with this same issue of censorship vs. pornographic obscenity in the Public Libraries and many cities have devised working solutions to this issue. For example, a library near Boston does not have filters on the computers, but instead has a stated official policy that pornography is not allowed in the library and enforces that policy by revoking library privileges temporarily for repeat offenders. For those that have a legitimate research need, a separate section is available – away from the open view of other library patrons.

It is possible to maintain a Public Library that supports Intellectual Freedom and is also a safe and non-harassing environment for everyone to work and live in. I would appreciate your support in this matter.

Thank you for your time and considerations.


Amanda Bratschie

Read more!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

My email to the American Library Association (ALA) Director, Judith Krug

Director Judith Krug -

I am writing to you to express my concerns with the amount of rampant pornography use in my local library, the Harold Washington branch of the Chicago Public Library. I spoke with Assistant Library Commissioner for the Chicago Public Library, Greta Bever, who directed me to the American Library Association (ALA) as the governing body.

It is my understanding that this issue falls under the category of Intellectual Freedom. Please forward my concerns to the appropriate person if this is not you.

The First Amendment is paramount and I strongly believe that we need to protect it in order to preserve our other Freedoms, granted as Americans. However, I also believe that watching pornographic images in a public space is NOT what was intended by this Amendment. I believe that this open viewing and display of pornography is Obscenity, which the Supreme Court has ruled as not protected by the First Amendment.

I realize that privacy screens are installed on monitors to protect privacy, but they do not do an adequate job of censoring the content of that screen, thus subjecting all nearby patrons to the graphic images from that screen.

In the Library Bill of Rights, the first point states:

I. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.

I have underlined the phrase "of all people of the community the library serves" because the open acceptance and protection of those choosing to view pornography in public is alienating people that do not want to be exposed to those pornographic images.

I am not suggesting Internet filters as a necessary solution because I realize that they can accidentally block speech that truly is protected by the First Amendment. However, I do hope that you would reconsider the official stance with Public Libraries across this great Nation of ours. Several libraries have come up with workable solutions to prevent open use of Internet pornography while still maintaining a safe and non-discriminatory environment for everyone to work and live in. Any support you could provide in this matter is greatly appreciated.

Thank you for your time and considerations.


Amanda Bratshie

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