Keep Libraries safe
If enacted, Illinois would join 21 other states with filter laws for libraries or schools.
Children at the Midlothian library must have written permission from their parents to use the Internet alone, according to Mary Beth Sharples, director of the Midlothian Public Library. Otherwise, they must be accompanied by an adult while on the computer.
"We do not have filters," Sharples said. "The reasoning was to make people responsible for their own actions."
Previous incarnations of the library bill would have required librarians to take an oath that they would filter Internet content. Criminal charges and fines of $100 a day for violators would have been imposed. And libraries and librarians would have been vulnerable to lawsuits if they weren't in compliance.
The bill adopted by the House still calls for an oath, but librarians would not be subject to criminal charges or fines. They must promise their libraries are in compliance, however.
The punitive aspects of the bill are gone, but library funding is tied to enforcement. Only libraries in compliance with the act would be eligible for state grants.
Public libraries rely on the property taxes for 85 percent to 95 percent of their revenue, Berggren said.
Berggren anticipates the bill could bring an increase in operating costs for libraries because they would have to pay for the filters and, potentially, more staff.
The bill requires that if a filter is turned off for a child then they must be supervised by someone 21 or older. Some librarians say they will need more librarians for this supervision.
Joyce said the bill will make it easier for librarians who don't want to monitor patrons computer use.
"We make it so much easier for the librarians if we pass the bill," he said. 'They don't have to monitor it. They don't have to police it."
He hopes filters also will keep people interested in pornography out of the library.
"If it protects children and keeps some of these people from the library, it's a good thing," he said.
"Senators and representative don't want to vote against it and have people say they're for pornography," she said. "We're not for pornography either. I think you'll find librarians are very much First Amendment people but it's not like we publicize, 'Come to the library and see dirty pictures.' "