February 17, 2018

An ‘Investigative Report’ on Library Dangers Sparks Debate

By LJ Staff

Two segments on library dangers from investigative reporter Carl Monday on Cleveland’s WKYC TV have sparked debate both on Monday’s blog and on library-related blogs, with some saying that Monday overhyped the dangers at a public institution, and others responding that the dangers shouldn’t be dismissed. Monday drew on a mixof Cleveland-area library incident reports, including sexual activity in the library and robbery, but the most striking part of his segments was a confrontation with a hapless man who was filmed, using an undercover camera, accessing Internet porn and pleasuring himself. Monday later confronted the man outside the library, and then trailed him to his parents’ home, where his irate parents – irrelevant to the story – had a confrontation with the reporter.

‘Are a small percentage of patrons up to no good? Yes. Is a melodramatic report the best way to cure the problems? Probably not,’ responded one person on Monday’s blog. ‘Public libraries are public,’ added another. ‘Public means that anyone can enter the library and use its services. This includes people from every section of society.’ Some, however, said that libraries should filter pornography – not all the libraries in the segments do so, and Monday said on camera that one tactic would be to use filters in the children’s room. A Cleveland Public Library staffer lamented that ‘it is nearly impossible to keep track of all the children that come in the library ( to make sure theft isn’t occurring), and watching the computers.’ Others pointed out that parents need to monitor their children better. On LISNews.com, Allen Merry, a union rep at the Free Library of Philadelphia, observed ‘I know most librarians are civil liberties fanatics, but this is one issue where we’ve definitely gone too far in protecting the ‘rights’ of problem patrons.’ He pointed to an incident in which a patron, who had been banned from the central library for repeatedly viewing pornography but was not banned from the system, later attacked a young girl in a library branch.