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Kingston library defends policy on watching pornography

Click to play video: 'Kingston library does not openly ban the viewing of porn on their computers' Kingston library does not openly ban the viewing of porn on their computers
A local library does not ban watching porn on its computers. Its policy asks patrons to "refrain from displaying offensive information or images." – Sep 22, 2017

The Kingston Frontenac Public Library is defending a policy that allows people to watch sexually explicit material on its computers.

For many people, the library is a quiet space where you can borrow books, read and — to the shock of some — even surf pornography on the library’s computers. The Ottawa Public Library recently drew the ire of a mother and two daughters who saw a man watching porn while at the library. It turns out the Kingston Frontenac Public Library doesn’t forbid the practice, either.

“They should not allow that. It’s just disgusting. This is a public library and you have kids and adults walking around all the time,” said David Currie, a regular library user.

“I think in a library setting, you have all ages and all stages of development and therefore, I think in my estimation, it’s inappropriate,” said Carmel Foster, also a regular library user.

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Kingston Frontenac Public Library says its user policy does not openly ban the viewing of explicit material, asking that “patrons refrain from displaying offensive information or images.”

Chief Librarian Patricia Enright says even though library users are discouraged from watching porn on public computers, stopping them isn’t easy.

“It’s a balance of privacy, so we’re not actively going out on the floor and looking for people who are accessing things that are inappropriate,” she said.

Enright says putting filters on computers to block explicit sites doesn’t work either.

“I think the problem with filters is that it does filter out content that is useful. So somebody said, ‘What if I was doing something on breast cancer and I’m looking at a site and trying to get information about that?’ Sometimes, that could be filtered out,” said Enright.

Similar to the incident at the Ottawa Public Library, staff from the Kingston Frontenac Public Library say they will enforce the policies when complaints are made. If someone is viewing sexually explicit or violent content, they are asked to stop.

READ MORE: Ottawa libraries to introduce new rules after pornography controversy

Enright says that for the most part, patrons are respectful and complaints are rare. And for now, the library won’t be changing its policy on viewing pornography.

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