No Fancy Name
Wednesday, May 26, 2004
acceptable use policies
I was outraged this morning, and so confused that I didn't know what to do. I couldn't figure out if I was thinking like an old fuddy-duddy, or a legitimately concerned citizen. It was 8am, and the library had just opened for the day. I was killing time between my final exam and my tutoring session, so I figured I'd go to the library with my trusty laptop, and get some work done. Hooray for the free broadband. This library has plenty of computers on each floor, including the lobby area. Anyone with a library card can reserve time on a computer, to use Office programs or the Internet. I think that's wonderful.

As I was walking by the public computers, on my way to the elevators, there were several students checking their Hotmail accounts, IM-ing, etc. However, one computer was being used by a large, disheveled, older man, who was not checking his Hotmail account. Even from 15 feet away, while walking briskly past it, the 800x600 monitor produced the unmistakable image of a certain female...area. Splayed, even. I kept walking, undoubtedly with a very quizzical look on my face, and boarded the elevator. One other person was in the elevator, and we both had the same quizzical look. "Did you see that?" I said. "Was that...?" she said. "Oh yes," I said, and we both sort of shook our heads and went along our merry ways.

I probably wouldn't have been as outraged, had the computer not been directly beside the entrance to the children's room. I don't care what people view or do in the privacy of their own homes. I don't even mind that porn exists. I am, in fact, thrilled that this library doesn't have blocking software sitting in front of public Internet access, because we all know how well those things work. I guess I just didn't think anyone would actually sit in the middle of the public library and look at porn.

After I sat down and thought about it, I still just wanted to tattle on the person. "He's looking at porn in the library! Make him stop!" But then I thought, wait a minute, is this actually against the access rules? It's not, at least directly:

The Internet may contain material of a controversial or mature nature. The Library neither restricts access to materials found on the Internet nor protects users from materials or information they may find offensive. The Library encourages all users to make appropriate use of the Internet by providing programs and assistance for responsible use.

While surfing porn at a computer situated next to the children's room is certainly not my idea of acceptable use, who's to say what's acceptable? Am I just being an old fuddy-duddy, or does this instance of public internet usage seem pretty darn wrong?


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