A cautionary tale

We offer free Internet access at the library. Every branch has several computers for people to use, the central branch (being the largest) has the most. The central branch, as previously stated, is downtown and attracts the most colourful people.

The internet terminals aren’t really hidden away either. They’re out in the middle of the library, although they are off to one side. They’re also clearly visible from most of the library. It’s a big, fairly open space, that’s just how it works.

Yet we still deal with a constant problem. Can you guess what it is?


I don’t think I’ve ever walked past the Internet terminals without seeing at least one person looking at porn. I don’t know what it is about these people, but for them libraries and porn go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Here’s something I don’t know that I should be telling you – the library has no official policy on porn so long as it’s not illegal porn (ie. child porn). However, if we catch you looking at it, chances are good someone will say something to you about it. It is, after all, a public place that is often visited by children.

Most notably, we once had security escort someone out of the building when they were caught looking at porn in the children’s library.

I used to find it endlessly entertaining to watch one of my co-workers go off on men she caught looking at porn in her rapid-fire, heavily accented way (I kept waiting for her to skip completely in to spanish which would have confused the hell out of them). She personally scared off dozens of people while I looked on and laughed.

For as many times as people have been caught, one stand out in my mind. It would be impossible for it not to. It’s become the stuff of legend.

One of our librarians is rather outspoken. She’s one of those people I often wonder what made her become a librarian. She seems more like the hippy/biker type (I know those two groups don’t normally go together, but trust me on this one). She’s loud and opinionated which makes her one of the few librarians I get along with. She also doesn’t put up with any bullshit. So when I heard her shouting across the library, I wasn’t surprised.

“What the hell are you doing?” She barked.

Like I said, you yell in the library and everyone is going to look. Everyone did. There she was standing at her desk, pointing at a patron sitting at the computers across the library.

This patron couldn’t have been more than 14.

“Get your hands out of your pants!” She shouted.

Anyone who hadn’t been looking suddenly took interest.

She stomped across the library and this kid, terrified, sat frozen in place with a distinctive deer in headlights look about him. As far as I’m aware, he’s the only one to have ever been caught with his hand in his pants despite the scores of people looking at porn and I think he’ll always stand as an example of why you should never try it.

“This is a library! What the hell do you think you’re doing!? That’s disgusting!” She stood looming over him. “What is your name?”

The kid’s jaw moved up and down making him look a bit like a guppy, but he didn’t make a sound.

“Give me your library card, right now!”

And he did. Right before he hopped up and bolted from the building. He handed her his library card that had his name, address and phone number on it.

It wasn’t the cleverest thing I’ve ever seen anyone do, but then if he’d been terribly clever he wouldn’t have been trying to rub one out in the middle of the public library either.

This might come as something of a shock, but he hasn’t been back.

The library is a good place for lots of things. This is not one of them. Consider yourself warned.

-Late Fines.

Published in: on June 13, 2009 at 7:16 pm  Comments (10)  

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10 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I’ve never NEVER done such a thing in a library…never…….

  2. Somehow I don’t believe you.

    • That’s strange, I was totally serious.

      • Sure, sure.

  3. Well, there go my plans for the weekend.

    • Sorry, but it’s better you get the warning than suffer the consequences without knowing it was going to happen.

  4. Wow… I used to work at a public library in the suburbs of Chicago and we had one unfiltered computer (at the time). There was guy that always used to look at porn on it. I’d also like to add that he had a shoe fetish and would check out people’s footwear as they walked past *shudder*

    • *eye twitch* ew. That’s just… ew.

  5. search trends show that even 14 yrs is like gettin too old for gettin started on internet porn. OTOH, why are the library computers’ web access not filtered? or was the kid using a proxy?

    • They don’t filter anything and technically, unless they are looking at something illegal (ie. kiddie porn) there is almost nothing we can do.

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