Library cards may settle porn access issue

"Sno-Isle Regional Library may let parents make the decision when it comes to their children's access to the Internet.The library board met July 23 in Oak Harbor for the first time since Sno-Isle held a series of regional meetings on the subject of Internet access. The meetings dealt mainly with the issue of pornography and if libraries should purchase electronic filters to sift out pornographic web sites. At present, Sno-Isle filters only computers in the children's section.There have been complaints at some libraries, including Freeland, from people concerned about others viewing porn in the library.At the Sno-Isle meetings, some people wanted all computers filtered because they believe pornography should not be accessible anywhere in the library. Others argued that any filters are an abridgement of their First Amendment rights.Mary Kelly, Sno-Isle community relations manager, said no decision was made at the Oak Harbor meeting of the Sno-Isle board. But a subcommittee brought up as a starting point that Sno-isle should follow the example of the Everett Public Library. In Everett, Kelly said, each child is issued a parental consent card that states the level of Internet access the child is allowed.The parent determines the access level, Kelly said. Some parents may opt for unfettered access, while others may want the strictest limits possible.Dani Fowler, an Oak Harbor resident, is chair of the Sno-Isle board and served on the Internet subcommittee. She said staff has been directed to find out more information about the Everett system, and which companies could provide the coded library cards. We want to know the costs, she said. With 20 libraries that's a lot of computers.Fowler described the card system as a compromise. People feel very strongly on both sides, she said. We're trying to hit the middle of the road and protect the children.If the board ends up split on the issue as the community seems to be, Fowler would have to cast the tie-breaking vote.Kelly said the board is likely to settle the Internet issue at their meeting this month. It's highly likely in July, she said. The board will meet Monday, July 23 at 1 p.m. in Marysville at Sno-Isle headquarters, at 7312 35th Ave. N.E. "

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