Orland Park Public Library keeps Internet access policy
By Mike Nolan firstname.lastname@example.org August 18, 2014 10:10PM
Orland Park library trustees voted Monday to continue the library's policy of allowing adult patrons unfiltered Internet access. | Mike Nolan/Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 20, 2014 6:28AM
Orland Park Public Library trustees on Monday night voted to continue to allow patrons 18 and older unfiltered Internet access, reaffirming a vote taken earlier this year.
Before the 4-2 vote, some patrons asked the board to install a filter to prevent people from being able to view pornographic material while online, and two library trustees said they supported the use of filters.
Trustee Dan Drew told his fellow trustees that a firewall or filter “protects us, protects our community,” and that visitors to the library “don’t need to be looking at nasty stuff.”
He was supported by Trustee Julie Ann Craig, who said patrons want “to enjoy and feel comfortable” in the library, and that “my job is to protect the community.”
Board members Beth Gierach, Nancy Healy, Diane Jennings and Denis Ryan voted to continue to allow unfiltered access.
“I fundamentally believe in the right of people to find out information,” Gierach said in explaining while she didn’t favor filters.
Computers used by patrons younger than 18 on the library’s first floor are filtered to block certain content, and the library board this year instituted a policy requiring patrons using computers in the second-floor adult section to present identification with proof of age.
Orland Park resident Rich De Vries told board members prior to the vote that “pornography is a huge, huge epidemic in our society” and noted that while the library does not allow someone to smoke or consume alcohol in the building, it does permit patrons to view pornography.
Jennings said employees in the adult computer section routinely circulate through the terminals to keep an eye on what patrons are looking at while online.
In its own research, the library staff found that most libraries in the southwest suburbs don’t filter computers used by adult patrons, and there were also concerns that filters could block access to legitimate websites and other online sources of information.
The library’s technology consultant reported that filters would block, at best, 0.6 percent of the estimated 500 million to 800 million active websites.
In February, the library board voted to allow older patrons unfiltered Internet access, but a new vote on the issue had to be taken after the Illinois attorney general’s office determined that the board had violated the state’s open meetings law because the earlier vote took place at a meeting on a holiday, Lincoln’s Birthday.