Sunday, June 13, 2010

Pron and defending your right to library boners

So yesterday I had a library first: my very own library public masturbator! Yes, I know what you're thinking (besides Ewww!), how can I have worked in various library jobs over the past six years and not yet encountered someone masturbating in public? Good luck, I guess? I've had at least one incident with indecent exposure (that, thankfully I only had to report and did not witness), and countless run-ins with internet porn, but so far those pervs have only been viewing it (or pretending not to view it while really playing chess online) or printing it out and showing it to me to ask how much their copies will cost, but so far no one had been caught in the act of working the rocket launcher. Until yesterday.

Shortly before lunchtime we received a complaint that a teen at one of the internet stations was viewing porn and the two attempts my branch manager made to catch him in the act failed as his spidey-sense must have alerted him that we were trying to peep over his shoulder. This prompted a discussion between me and my branch manager about the library's policy on porn. In library school, we would be forced to have these ridiculous debates on what we would do as a librarian if our library theoretically decided to stock Playboy as a magazine in our collection and a member of the public became outraged and complained. I found these arguments useless because a)what public library would want to walk into the firing squad that would be stocking Playboy? and b)it wasn't an argument that I really agreed with most of the time.
Now I realize that the buttress to the librarians defending porn argument is the "slippery slope theory," in that once you censor pornography, everything else is up for grabs so it's an "either you're with us or against us" mentality, very black and white. Yeah, I understand that theory, but I don't necessarily agree, and it's not even from the "oh, think of the children!" point of view -- it's more like "things that are better done in the privacy of your own home" point of view. Why should some guy (who smells like a brewery) have more of a right to watch YouPorn in public than my right not to see it or hear it as I use or work in the library? I'm certainly not going to come over to his house and regulate his personal life or get all Big Brother on his ass, but really, why is porn in public places a constitutional right?

This is why I'm glad that while ALA may stand behind your right to view teh interweb pron at the library, the second you decide to unzip those rights are quickly superseded by laws requiring you to keep it in your pants at the library. My boss was on the phone helping a patron when she suddenly exclaimed "Oh no!" and my head snapped around to the direction she was running where the teen internet porn suspect was fully engaged in the most urgent self love, almost to the point where it looked like his chair might lift off the floor into orbit. He was reminded of the library code of conduct policy and asked to leave, but I feel a little better about the world knowing that ALA welcomes him with open arms to come back today, just as long as he looks and doesn't touch.


  1. whoa!
    i'm starting my library masters in september [in ireland] and loving your blog.
    the local library where i did my work experience had porn and any site with swear words blocked on their computers, and i wondered about the whole censorship thing, but they said because the computers could be used by all ages, they could block anything/everything they felt was inappropriate.

    i'm just glad that kid got chased out of there before there was anything left behind him to clean up. *shudder*

  2. Yes, it was one of those rare occasions where I was glad we have easy to wipe clean vinyl coverings on the chairs instead of cloth. Sheesh!
    Thanks for reading, I'm jealous you get to work on your master's degree in Ireland :)