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Downers Grove Library adds software to screen out material on children's computers

Published: Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014 1:52 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 9:49 p.m. CDT

DOWNERS GROVE – A half dozen computers in the Downers Grove Public Library’s children’s area are now equipped with software that screens inappropriate material.

The computers are available for children up through eighth grade, and replace the previous policy that required children of a certain age to be accompanied by a parent or guardian while using computers.

The children’s computers also are now out in the openinstead of in a room that was previously unlocked only upon request.

Library board president Kathleen DiCola said when the old Internet Access Policy was written, technology would have made it difficult for the library to filter only certain computers without filtering all of them in the building.

“The policy that was in place had been in place for quite some time and was really out of date.” she said. “The staff came to us with a proposition to make the change.

“It was time for the library to catch up.”

The board voted in November to update the Internet Access Policy to include the filtered computers, which were added this month.

The computers “got busy over the weekend immediately,” Library Director Rick Ashton said. “And what we have been seeing these first few days is that parents are kind of letting their kids get on there, and parents are not hovering over them.”

He said the filtering software is similar to what School District 58 installed on its computers.

Computers on the second floor for adults will remain unfiltered. Ashton said if an adult is viewing sexually explicit material, library staff will ask the person to stop. If they don’t, they are asked to leave. Repeat offenders can be barred from the library, he said.

“We inform people that [viewing sexually explicit material in the library] is considered a form of harassment and a form of disturbance to others,” he said.

Ashton added that the library does not plan to begin filtering the second-floor computers.

“We certainly also do expect people in a public environment such as a library will conduct themselves appropriately for a public place,” he said.

Patrons do not need a library card to use computers in the building, but a card is needed to print.

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