Computer access at library revisited
Monday's Orland Park Public Library board meeting found residents revisiting the issue of adults having unimpeded access to the Internet on library computers.
But the 29 minutes of public comments generated more heat than light, with one board member laughing at a speaker and another appearing to cover her ears during part of a resident's comment.
Dr. John Rimkunas, an Oak Lawn veterinarian who lives in Orland Park, likened the issue of banning Internet pornography at the library to banning firearms at the local post office. The no-handguns policy at the post office doesn't prevent people from their constitutional right to own a firearm, while ensuring "the safety of staff and people using the post office," he said.
"The key question is, 'Who do you want to make the library a safe and inviting place for?' Are you looking after kids' and families' best interests or people who want to view pornography in a public place?"
Rimkunas warned the library could become a magnet for viewing Internet pornography as other libraries install blocks.
Self-described gay activist Kevin DuJan and Megan Fox, who co-host a conservative political blog, took a tag-team approach. DuJan criticized the board's unwillingness at its November meeting to allow an "expert" to rebut -- via a Skype connection -- an American Library Association representative's comments supporting unrestricted access.
DuJan said 90 percent of the 500 Orland Park residents he polled support blocking pornography and 90 percent "said they will not vote for any of you again."
Fox, who has aggressively championed blocking access to Internet pornography at the library, accused board members of "trying to turn this debate (into a fight) between those who love the library and those who hate it."
She interrupted her accusation that the board "continues to lie to the public about the existence of such reports" of public masturbation at the library to address board member Diane Jennings directly: "You're laughing," Fox said.
"Yes," Jennings replied. "You're a joke to me."
Resident Tomasz Kusmider downplayed child-pornography concerns as "hysteric," saying, "this is the safest place." He said the library has had only "12 incidents since 2002," noting the facility has served more than 5 million people during that time.
But resident Colleen Lanigan said allowing any public access to pornography on the adult computers is "advantaging people who probably have an addiction and we're disadvantaging our children." As she concluded with a scriptural reading from the New Testament about temptation, board member Mary Ann Ahl slid her hands up her face and appeared to place her fingers in her ears.
Library spokesman Bridget Bittman said later that the district has responded to complaints by requiring identification before a person can use a computer. She acknowledged the district has also reinstalled screens that block any but direct views of computer images, but said the action was coincidental.