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Library Internet access restricted for kids

"Adults can still get anything they want on the Internet at Sno-Isle libraries, but children 17 and under will face restricted access.That's the solution to the thorny Internet pornography controversy that the Sno-Isle Regional Library board adopted Monday.Art Weeks, Sno-Isle director, said Tuesday that the board voted to filter Internet access for those under 18 years of age. However, parents will have the option to allow open access for their own child should they so choose.At present, each library offers filtered computers in the children's section, but computers in the adult area are not filtered and people of any age have access to them. In Freeland, special privacy screens were purchased for computers after a woman complained that her children saw pornographic images while waiting in line at the check-out counter.In the future, the individual library cards will dictate who can access the entire Internet, according to Weeks. He said the present cards already encode the year of birth.Weeks said special computer software will have to be created to meet the desires of the Sno-Isle board. He estimated that could take several months. As of Tuesday, he could not estimate what the cost would be because he had not talked to the suppliers.Weeks said the board's decision preserved people's rights to access what they want on the Internet. I feel the principles of the First Amendment have been preserved, he said. I'm satisfied with the board's solution.Regional public meetings were held prior to the decision Monday. In Island County, the meeting was held in Oak Harbor, where some people testified that no access to pornographic Web sites be allowed in the libraries. They worried that child molesters could be attracted to the libraries.Weeks said the answer to that problem is to have library staff watch behavior of patrons using the Internet. We're working with staff to do the proper training, he said. "

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