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« May a library loan a loaded ebook reader? | Main | Update on a Legal Action Against a Cultural Institution »

January 10, 2012

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The article title includes, "Hat tip: Martin Gomez, LA Public Library." Why? Grayson, as an ACLU attorney from New Jersey, how or why did you got involved in this Los Angeles matter? Likely similar to how I got involved by following library news generally and I'm also from New Jersey. Still, how did Martín Gómez from California tip you off? And why, if you know? Thanks.

Grayson, and everyone, there's an interesting discussion going on here. Thanks. And thanks to Mary for hosting it.

Now Grayson said, "If you see a crime being committed, call the police. Doesn't matter whether it's at the library or the dollar store. Ridiculous to suggest that criminal behavior is somehow the fault of the library." Would that it were. Consider Holyoke Public Library Director Maria Pagan ordering a librarian to cover up for a guy viewing child pornography. http://safelibraries.blogspot.com/2009/07/getting-away-with-murder-in-holyoke-ma.html

Consider American Library Association advice to libraries:

"A librarian is not a legal process. There is not librarian in the country—unless she or he is a lawyer—who is in the position to determine what he or she is looking at is indeed child pornography."

"Libraries vs. Police in a Suit Sparked by Porn; Kent Case Centers on People's Rights and Protections," by Jeffrey M. Barker, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 13 August 2002. http://www.seattlepi.com/news/article/Libraries-vs-police-in-a-suit-sparked-by-porn-1093410.php

Etc.

Etc.

Etc.

If you see a crime being committed, call the police. Doesn't matter whether it's at the library or the dollar store. Ridiculous to suggest that criminal behavior is somehow the fault of the library.

Elizabeth Egan, allow to presume you were asking me that question.

Yes, people masturbate all over the place where they should not be masturbating. Yes, it would be ridiculous to have the masturbation police posted everywhere. Yes, it would be ridiculous to blame the dollar store.

When it comes to a public library, however, the circumstances may be different. For one thing, the library's unfiltered computers could be an attractive nuisance. Also, the library could already be on notice of that and the resultant crimes that occur. The library could have been the scene of repeated criminal activity resulting from unfiltered Internet usage. The library could be refusing to filter the Internet as a result of its adherence to the anything-goes policy of some outside organization applying ACLU policy nationwide.

If I am not mistaken, the above generally happens to apply to the LAPL, and more.

There's your difference. The library knew it was following a policy that obviously even the LA Times does not want, it knew of a continuing string of illegal activity occasioned by the unfiltered computers, and it refused to take perfectly legal action to stem the tide.

And now, the library continues to mislead the public on these issues. Consider the LAPL librarian lying in the LA Times Editorial Facebook comments. Consider the LAPL librarian in this very story tipping off the ACLU attorney to write information that is the exact opposite of what US v. ALA said. These are some examples.

So you have a pattern of behavior that enables, condones, excuses, and continues to support the means that enables the illegal activity, in the given case, masturbation.

You do not have that in the dollar store, or the guy masturbating under the apron while getting a haircut, or the guy parked and masturbating by a playground full of children.

Clever arguments sound clever, but if anyone ever gets seriously injured as a result of the library's actions, the library and the government may be exposed to major liability. Indeed, the government has the means to control the library's ultra vires actions, and if it does not, then the government itself may become a target of a lawsuit.

This it the LibraryLaw blog. If the ice finally breaks when someone sues similar to what I am suggesting and wins, there may be a wave of similar suits. This blog may necessarily become much more active.

Local police reported that on 1/1/2012, at 1:29 pm, a man was arrested for masturbating in the underwear aisle of a Gloucester City, NJ dollar store.
How do we prevent this kind of behavior? Please discuss relating to similar behavior in libraries.

Speaking of dirty old man, this is possibly related: "Taking Shelter in the Library Stacks" http://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta/taking-shelter-in-the-1293821.html

Dan, if a dirty old man is disrupting the library, the problem is the dirty old man, not the internet. I stand by my blog post. Here is a link to United States v. ALA, 539 U.S. 194 (2003): http://supreme.justia.com/us/539/194/

Grayson Barber, Esq., I have reviewed what you have written above and have determined it to be substantially false and misleading. Before I write why (hint: read US v. ALA), I am giving you the opportunity to correct yourself before I do.

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