Jun 292004
Authors: J.J. Babb

When I sit down at a Morgan Library computer, the last thing I

want to see is the individual next to me checking out a pornography

site while I am attempting to research a paper.

But what I want matters just as little, or as much, as every

other student on campus. In fact, because CSU is a land-grant

institution (a public school), anyone, not just students, staff and

faculty, is allowed use of the computer and Internet. With this

open access, anything may be viewed.

When I searched the Morgan Library Web site, I found the

library’s reply to a complaint about viewing pornography on the


According to this response, the library follows the policy of

suggesting those uncomfortable with others’ Internet use to move to

another workstation. According to the Library’s “Policy for

Computer and Internet Use,” which can be found at

http://lib.colostate.edu/reference/policy.html: “The Colorado State

University Libraries provides free, equal and unrestricted access

to the Internet to support the scholarly, education and information

needs of the University’s diverse community of library users …

While the Internet presents material that is personally, culturally

and professionally enriching for all ages, it also provides access

to some material that may be offensive, disturbing, inaccurate or

even illegal under United States or Colorado law. As with other

library materials, librarians and staff do not endorse any

viewpoints represented on the Internet … they are also not

responsible for censoring access or protecting individuals from

controversial or offensive material.”

This policy protects students, staff, faculty and community

members from censorship and the user-privacy intrusion. The policy

also helps CSU to retain intellectual freedom across the board and

allows for any type of information to be viewed.

If the library chooses to censor pornography viewing, what would

stop the librarians from censoring information on abortion or

sexually transmitted diseases or anything else deemed offensive? A

type of policy that begins any type of censorship starts a fall on

a slippery slope that could lead to complete censorship of all

controversial material.

In this description anything someone does not agree with could

be deemed “controversial material,” so where would the censorship


Although there are illegal documents on the Internet, such as

child pornography, the library, as a public institution, should not

serve as the police by stopping these sorts of crimes. If I saw

someone looking at child pornography or someone underage, I would

report it immediately to campus police, not library staff. The

library staff should not serve as a censor even if the information

may be illegal.

To retain intellectual freedom on our campus, we must be

permitted to view anything we choose. If the individual next to you

is offending you, it is up to you to remove yourself from the

situation. It is not the librarian’s job to move the offending


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