James Johnson, Jr., Chair
 
900 North Ashley Drive
Tampa, Florida 33602
James Martin, Jr., Vice-Chair
William Scheuerle, Secretary
 
Phone: (813) 273-3660
Fax: (813) 273-3707

Tampa-Hillsborough Public Library Board

MINUTES FROM THE DECEMBER 9, 1999 PUBLIC LIBRARY BOARD MEETING
JOHN F. GERMANY PUBLIC LIBRARY, 4-6PM

CALL TO ORDER:

Chairman Sandra Cameron called the meeting to order at 4:10pm

ROLL CALL AND ATTENDANCE OF STAFF & SPECIAL GUESTS:

In the absence of Linda Arnold, Elizabeth Blue called the roll.

Library Board Members Present:
Catherine Bartolotti, Elizabeth Blue
Sandra Cameron, Josephine Gracia
Fred Hearns, Dora Reeder, Kay O'Rourke
William Scheuerle, Helen Swisshelm
Library Board Excused:
Linda Arnold
Anniece Ross


Library Board Absent:

Library Staff Present:
Joe Stines, Director of Libraries
Marcee Challener, Assistant Director
David Wullschleger, Chief of Operations
Janet Lorenzo, Chief of Community and Access
Jean Fletcher, Administrative Assistant

Priscilla Lakus, Chief of Youth Services
Jean Peters, Chief of Reference & Information
Maurice Site, Chief of Planning & Analysis
Jason Biggers, Automated Services
Patrice Koerper, PR&P
Linda Gillon, Manager, Staff & Administrative Support

Special Guests:
Senator Helen Gordon Davis
Commissioner Ronda Storms
Maureen Gauzza
Members of the Public:

None.
Pam Prysner, Vice-President, Westchase Community Association
Bob Argus, President, Westchase Community Association

APPROVAL OF THE OCTOBER 28, 1999 MINUTES

Helen Swisshelm moved that the minutes from the October 28, 1999 Library Board meeting be approved as written. Bill Scheuerle seconded. The minutes were approved by general consensus.

SPECIAL COMMENDATION:

Helen Swisshelm and Dora Reeder were commended for their hard work on the public art for the Port Tampa City Library. Sandra Cameron presented both with certificates and thanked them for a job well done.

PRESENTATIONS FROM THE PUBLIC/SPECIAL GUESTS:

Sandra Cameron introduced Maureen Gauzza, Westchase resident, Pam Prysner, Vice-President, Westchase Community Association and Bob Argus, President, Westchase Community Association, all of whom were present to make a formal request for a regional library in their area.

The following information was provided:

  • Westchase is bordered by Sheldon Rd., Hillsborough Ave., Countryway Boulevard, Racetrack Rd. and Linebaugh. It is located in the northwestern part of Hillsborough County, not far from the Citrus Park Mall.
  • While the area has no true identity of its own as a community, it is rapidly developing one. Currently, the area is comprised of several neighborhoods and associations, all of which support the effort to site a regional library (or libraries) in the area.
  • This part of Hillsborough County is experiencing growth at a phenomenal rate. The population is expected to double in the next twenty years. Now that the Citrus Park Mall is open, the region is developing at a phenomenal rate.
  • Westchase itself is currently comprised of 2200 homes; when it is built out in 3-4 years it will have 5000 residential units. Numerous developers are going into the area. There are 340 units in Citrus Village, 300 units at the Preserve, and 433 units at Lakechase.
  • The desire for a library has been expressed by citizens of all ages, from young children in school to retired people.
  • This desire has been recognized by the developer, Terrabrook. Brian Swell, Vice-President and General Manager of Terrabrook, has identified three parcels of land that have great potential as sites for a regional facility. The County also owns land in the area off Montague.
  • Schools are being built in the area to accommodate the rapid growth; the need for a library to support the schools is being felt strongly. Westchase Elementary School is already built; a second elementary school is being planned. A new middle school will open in August of 2000.
  • A Friends of the Library group is being formed; the first meeting is January 13, 2000. The Presidents of Homeowners Associations in the area are doing everything they can to notify residents and solicit support. There has been tremendous interest thus far.
  • Both single family residences and apartment complexes are being built in the area.
  • Most citizens currently use West Gate Library.
  • One of the unique features of the area is commuter rail access.

Joe Stines asked if the developer would be willing to donate the land for the library. Ms. Gauzza responded that it appeared more likely that he would sell at a reduced rate. Joe pointed out that a library for Westchase is on the County's Unfunded CIP List. It is also on the Library Board's Planning Committee project list. He thanked Ms. Gauzza, Ms. Prysner and Mr. Argus for their hard work in identifying potential sites.

Joe explained that most of the Library's funding comes from the County's Special Library Taxing District but added that state funds are also an important factor. He encouraged them to write letters in support a $10 million increase in State Aid to Libraries which has been proposed by Secretary of State Harris. He said he would be glad to provide addresses.

Sandra Cameron thanked Ms. Gauzza, Ms. Prysner and Mr. Argus for coming and said their request would be discussed further at the next meeting of the Planning Committee in January.

INTERNET WORKSHOP:

INTRODUCTION:

Sandra Cameron began by reading a letter from Commissioner Pat Frank, Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners, who said she was writing on behalf of the Board of County Commissioners to request that WebSense be installed on all Hillsborough County library computers with Internet access. Sandra said that the remainder of the meeting would be devoted to a discussion of this proposal.

Sandra said that the Library Board could agree on three things:

  • that it is of the utmost importance to protect children without limiting the legal rights of adults
  • that it is necessary to be fiscally responsible
  • that there are inherent limitations in all blocking or filtering software

She explained that the Library Board and staff had worked on this issue for several years and had explored numerous filtering and non-filtering options. As a result of these efforts, the Library system now filters most machines with WebSense and has an approved Code of Conduct. However, this code has not proved to be a sufficient deterrent to misuse. She said the Library Board would continue to work on this issue for quite a few more years as technologies keep changing. With these things in mind, she asked Joe Stines to give an overview of where the library has been and is now in regard to this issue.

INTERNET OVERVIEW (JOE STINES):

Joe said that an incident in 1998 at one of the library system's branches precipitated the formation of an Internet Use Subcommittee on the Library Board. Recognizing the need for controls, this committee worked with Library staff to bring an Internet Access Management Plan to the Board of County Commissioners. In late 1998, the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) approved this plan and directed staff to install WebSense for Firewall I on the Library's children's computers. On January 19, 1999 WebSense had been installed and became operational. A number of machines systemwide were left unfiltered for use by adults. The Library Board asked that staff monitor WebSense to measure its effectiveness. This has been done for the last year.

In March of 1999, the issue was revisited because of concerns regarding the 15-17 year-old age group. At that time the Library Board amended its Internet Access Management Plan to include a requirement that customers use library cards and pin numbers to access the Internet. This would necessitate re-registering all children under the age of 18 with parents being given the right to approve or deny open access for their children in this age category. Joe said the Library had been unable to do this thus far because of technical difficulties.

Joe went on to say that there are over 300 computers in the THPL system; all but 48 are filtered with WebSense. The electronic libraries in Bealsville and Progress Village are filtered to the max because they are located in Parks & Recreation Centers and are configured for children doing homework. Chat is blocked systemwide. The 48 unfiltered computers are configured for adults. The Code of Conduct provides guidelines for their proper use. Elizabeth Blue pointed out that the Code of Conduct lists specific activities that are not permitted. It also states what will happen if a library user is caught breaking the rules. She said the Library Board had studied the decision passed down by the courts in the Louden County, VA case where it was ruled that a library could not bring adults down to the level of a 7 year old child. The Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library Advisory Board agreed with this and hoped that this is where the Library's Code of Conduct would come in. Illegal activities would not be tolerated and the police would be called. She added that the John Germany Library now has a full-time, armed deputy who assists staff at the downtown facility. She acknowledged that there is always room for improvement and said that the Library Board would continue to look at new technologies and software products as they become available.

Bill Scheuerle asked how the Code of Conduct is distributed. Liz replied that it is posted at each computer. Librarians monitor the computers. While they are not requested very often, privacy screens are available to those who are viewing sensitive materials. Joe added that the Library has trespassed people who do not respect the Code of Conduct. He said that it is becoming more and more difficult to enforce the Code of Conduct, however. Staff members are finding it difficult to monitor computers in the busy branches. The policy is good on paper but implementation is very difficult. In the meantime, there are more and more requests for computers with Internet access. Joe didn't see the demand lessening in the future.

COMMENTS FROM COMMISSIONER STORMS:

Sandra Cameron introduced Commissioner Ronda Storms. The Commissioner said she brought the Internet issue to the attention of the Board of County Commissioners after she received a letter from a constituent complaining that her children were exposed to pornography at the library. After receiving this letter, Commissioner Storms went to the library with a Hillsborough County detective to check things out for herself. She said she was appalled that she was able to access obscene materials in a matter of a few seconds.

Commissioner Storms made clear that she had not come to ask the Library Board to filter pornography. She noted that pornography is protected by the Constitution. However, she said she did want to ask the Board to filter obscenity. She expressed concern that pedophiles can use library computers to exploit children. She said that the Library Board had a moral obligation to the community to put WebSense on every computer in the Hillsborough County Library system. She reiterated that she was not interested in filtering "centerfold shots" but hardcore obscenity that attracts people with deviate interests.

Commissioner Storms went on to say that Orange County has implemented this system with no problem. Joe Stines agreed and said Orange County filters using WebSense on Sex I and Sex II and it is working well. Customers use a form to ask that a particular site be blocked or unblocked. The same form is used by customers who have a problem with print materials. Staff members review the request, and if it cannot be handled satisfactorily, it is referred to the Library Board. He said only one form has been submitted so far. It was for a site that should not have been blocked. Jacksonville Public is doing the same thing. Joe said the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library Advisory Board could choose to modify WebSense to filter on Sex I and II .

Commissioner Storms concluded her appeal by saying: "Please, please do everything you can to do this. It is in your best interest to do it." She then called for questions.

Bill Scheuerle asked for the definition of "obscenity" as determined by WebSense. He said Lady Chatterly's Lover would fall under Sex I yet it is still in the library. Commissioner Storms said the Supreme Court Case has defined what obscenity is. There is a standard; for example, obscenity has no artistic merit. It appeals to the purulent interests of the individual and offends the common standards of a community. She said WebSense does not have to block legitimate literature and added that the Library already makes "gatekeeping" choices by selecting or de-selecting materials. She said this should be extended to the Internet.

Bill Scheuerle continued by saying that someone could question why the Library should offer Lady Chatterly's Lover in book form but not as a visual on the Internet. The Library is then making a distinction between what we read and what we see. Joe agreed that he had a point; however, he said there is a difference between reading something in the privacy of one's own home and viewing it in a public setting. Commissioner Storms said she agreed that you couldn't compare reading something privately and viewing it on a screen for all to see.

Elizabeth Blue commented that WebSense filters by domain name and added that the problem is that thousands of new sites crop up daily. The Commissioner agreed that there is no foolproof filter. She said the schools use Integrity On-Line and it isn't perfect either. She added: "But, you have to do something."

Helen Swisshelm asked who determines what is pornography and what is obscenity. Commissioner Storms said she didn't know who the gate keeper was. Joe Stines said people hired by filtering software companies do it by definition. WebSense has two categories called Sex I and Sex II where all of the obscene images are placed. He explained that WebSense hires people to surf the Internet daily to identify sites that are obscene according to the definition of the law.

Joe said that Websense is so flexible that customers can request to have sites blocked or unblocked. Librarians are able to do this. He said it is rare to find this kind of flexibility. It is becoming more and more difficult to manually monitor each machine and then enforce the Code of Conduct. Library buildings have not been designed for separated computer use; there is no telling when a young child will walk by and no way to truly isolate adults from children. He pointed out that our libraries are really built for families as a whole.

Commissioner Storms suggested that a library policy is not going to deter people who are determined to engage in illegal activities on the computer. She said there is really no deterrent whatsoever. She said pedophiles are already using the library to exploit children sexually. She asked why the Library Board would allow something that would only add fuel to the fire and perpetrate additional crimes.

Helen Swisshelm asked if the Library allows chat rooms. Joe said "no." That decision was made up front. He added that THPL does offer e-mail and added that Jacksonville blocks it. He said there would be a major outcry from the public if e-mail were blocked.

Kay O'Rourke asked if trying to block people from engaging in perverted activities would only encourage them more. Joe said he didn't think so. He said people would probably turn away and go elsewhere. He noted that establishments offering this kind of service for a fee are now springing up.

PUBLIC COMMENT/RESPONSE:

Senator Helen Gordon Davis said she represented the American Civil Liberties Union. She complimented the Library Board for their hard work on the Internet issue. She noted that the case from Louden County, VA has been declared unconstitutional. In fact, most cases dealing with this issue have been found unconstitutional. She said Jacksonville has not been sued yet but she could guarantee that, if they did go to court, they would lose. She cautioned the Library Board to remember that the constitutional issue of free speech is very much a factor. She questioned whether it would be better to have children register to use computers. She asked if THPL requires this. Joe said "no." He added that there is much computer use by school age patrons.

Bill Scheuerle said he felt torn between his hate for obscenity and his feelings against censoring. He quoted from the ALA (American Library Association) Bill of Rights, which opposes censoring in favor of intellectual freedom and enlightenment. Bill said he felt very concerned about censoring the library's computers--and added that that is what filtering is. On the other hand, he didn't want people to be exposed to obscenity, either. He said that, before he could vote, he would want the Library Board to investigate putting some kind of security access on the unfiltered machines or using the physical placement of computers to isolate open access machines from the general public.

Sandra suggested that the Library might filter all but a specific number of machines and require registration on those. She asked if a filter could be turned off if people wanted open access. Joe said "no." He explained that sites could be blocked or unblocked but the filter itself could not be turned off and on. Joe said staff could see what it would take to provide open access in some kind of enclosed space. He said it would be expensive because of the need for separate printers. He added that there might be a stigma attached to an adult male if he wanted to use a separate room for the Internet. Joe went on to say that it would not cost anything to activate Sex I and Sex II. All computers in the THPL system could be filtered for Sex I and Sex II with no additional funding.

Bill said he agreed with Senator Davis that Hillsborough County could be sued for filtering. Commissioner Storms said she disagreed, adding that, if the ACLU was going to sue, they would have already sued Orange County and Jacksonville. For that matter, they would already be suing THPL for its use of WebSense. She added that the Louden County, VA case has no bearing on the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library.

Commissioner Storms continued by saying that she was only asking that the Library Board not allow people to engage in criminal activity on the Internet at taxpayer's expense. She asserted that it is important for the County to set a standard even if it loses. "We may lose the battle but we still have to fight," she said. She applied the same concept to prostitution, molestation, drug dealing, and other types of crime.

Elizabeth Blue said she was 100% in agreement with this. She said the problem comes in determining exactly which sites are illegal.

Sandra Cameron asked if the sites blocked by Sex I and Sex II are determined to be legally obscene. Joe Stines replied: "No, not necessarily." Using their own definitions, WebSense staff members have categorized these sites as such. He said the Library communities that have used WebSense with Sex I and II have felt comfortable enough after a year of use to continue.

Library staff members in Orlando and Jacksonville view WebSense with Sex I and Sex II as an additional aid. Though they, too, have strong feelings about First Amendment rights, they support the blocking of these two categories. They have not felt the same way about blocking the third category called "Adult Entertainment." Sites in this area may not be judged obscene in a court of law. Joe said his staff members are in agreement with this as well. Sex I and Sex II are "the worst of the worst".

Helen Swisshelm said that at one point she'd asked what they do at USF. She said she was told that they don't filter. The justification was that their mission is different than THPL's. She asked if someone could explain how adults at the university, who are also taxpayers, have different rights and standards. Helen stated that THPL already has filters for the children's machines. Joe said that computers in the children's areas are filtered; however, there are times when librarians have had to let children use the unfiltered machines because the Internet offered a way to meet their needs. Helen said she wasn't aware of this. Joe said this is the problem a public library faces; if THPL were an all adult library, the problem would not exist. The same would be true if THPL were an all children's library. Having to serve the needs of all age categories is what creates a problem. Public libraries have to serve the entire population, and the family as a whole.

Helen asked if young children could get into THPL's 48 unfiltered computers. Joe said: "Yes, with monitoring by adult reference staff." Helen said again that she wasn't aware of that. Joe added that a librarian would intercept someone calling a child over to look at pornography; however, the fact remains that a child using an unfiltered computer could accidentally pull up obscene sites. It could certainly happen at one of the busier branches like Brandon. He added that THPL does not have the manpower to continue enforcing the Code of Conduct the way it should be as more and more computers become available to the public.

Bill Scheuerle said he agreed that it is very dangerous for everyone the way things stand right now. He agreed with Commissioner Storms that monitoring is not adequate. He said this was no fault of anyone at the Library; the librarians are simply busy. He summarized the alternatives as follows: 1) keep things as they are 2) filter everything 3) look into some type of security access. He said he didn't know if the latter would be fiscally or physically possible but said he would like it to be investigated. Joe agreed that physical location rather than technology is THPL's problem. He offered to do an analysis of the library's floor plans to see what could be done. He remarked that WebSense has filtering capability but is also much more than just a filter. It has been used as a very effective and invaluable management tool that allows the library to measure activities, lock down machines that are not designated for Internet use and prevent hackers from breaking in to change the protocol. He said it has been a successful system. Bill said he was not recommending that WebSense be done away with.

Sandra Cameron read into the record an e-mail to the Library Board from a Mr. Larry Seylor who wanted the Library Board to know that he is in favor of filtering.

Fred Hearns asked if staff members are trying to provide everything for everybody at every branch--both filtered and unfiltered Internet access. Joe said "yes." He said THPL's goal was to provide equal service in every section of the county. There is open, unfiltered access at every branch location.

Commissioner Storms asked for some sort of indication of where the Library Board was going with this issue as it might affect further actions that she would take. She said she expected the Board of County Commissioners to take action regardless of anything the Library Board did. She asked if anyone planned to make a motion.

Elizabeth Blue responded that other alternatives might need to be looked into. She asked if a meeting of the Internet Use Subcommittee should be scheduled. Joe said that would depend upon the pleasure of the Library Board. He noted that the next Library Board meeting is January 27 and added that it might take that long to look at floor plans and get cost estimates.

Bill Scheuerle asked Commissioner Storms if she had a set deadline. The Commissioner responded that she didn't.

Joe Stines said the Library Board could recommend that children not be allowed to use the 48 unfiltered machines. Helen Swisshelm said she was surprised that the Library is not doing that already.

Fred Hearns said he hoped that the issue would be revisited by the Internet Use Subcommittee with a report being made to the full Library Board in the near future. The Library Board could then come up with a recommendation after receiving staff input as well. He said, however, that no matter what the Board came up with, it would involve additional resources. It could call for additional staff or walls, etc. if the mission remains to provide everyone with everything at every branch. He said he didn't necessarily agree with that mission, but perhaps if that is the Library's mission, then the Board should go forth with that. He said he didn't see how the Library could do more with what it already has in terms of staff, equipment, etc.

Commissioner Storms said that she was coming to the Library Board in order to follow the process. She said she would bring the Library Board's recommendation back to the BOCC. If the Library Board's recommendation was to filter all computers with WebSense the funding would be there. If the Library Board could not support this move, however, she said was prepared to ask the BOCC to override the Library Board's decision. She said she felt sure she'd have the votes to do this. Commissioner Storms went on to say that she would not be prepared to offer any funding for rooms or walls or anything of that sort. She said she didn't mean this as a threat but the Library Board would be on its own with funding for anything like little rooms or walls.

Kay O'Rourke commented that the Library Board really had no decision then. Commissioner Storms said the Board did have a decision; she just wanted to let the Library Board know what her perspective was. She said she was asking the Library Board to do the right thing. Helen Swisshelm said she agreed with Kay--the Library Board may as well not do anything as it's already out of the Library Board's hands. Commissioner Storms disagreed.

Kay O'Rourke said that the Library Board had voted to install WebSense. Board members had worked on this issue to the best of their ability. Granted the filter fell short now but that was not the fault of the Board. She said that the Library Board had already done what the Commissioner wanted. Commissioner Storms responded that the Board had not already done it; she said WebSense needs to be used on all of the Library's machines. She said she was asking for the Library Board's vote to install it on all rather than just some. She said she was aware that the Library Board liked WebSense; for that reason, she was not recommending something else. The Commissioner said again that she wanted to go along with the Library Board. She was just asking that the Board go one step further to install WebSense on all of the Library's computers.

Joe suggested that Board members make a trip to Orlando and/or Jacksonville to see how WebSense is working there. He added that WebSense is already installed on THPL machines. It would just be a matter of flipping a switch. It would not cost any more to filter for Sex I and Sex II on all of the Library's machines. It would just be a matter of having the Library Board give the go ahead. Joe said his recommendation would be to filter using Sex I and Sex II. He said it would go a long way in assisting staff with handling obscenity and illegal activities.

Sandra Cameron asked if it could be turned on for a trial basis. Joe said "yes, certainly." He added that anyone could test it to see how it works.

Fred Hearns said he didn't have a lot of power but he did have the power to leave the meeting. He said he didn't appreciate the Commissioner's threat and added that it really was just that.

Dora Reeder said she would like to see the Internet Use Subcommittee meet again and work on it further. She added that she would not like to see the Library Board make a recommendation at this time. She said she didn't want to make a hasty decision. Joe asked if she would like the Internet Use Subcommittee to meet before the next Library Board meeting. Dora said "yes." She said she would like to digest what Commissioner Storms and Senator Helen Gordon Davis had said.

Liz Blue said something to keep in mind is that WebSense filters by domain name. A domain name is something that someone purchases. The problem is that people who are publishing pornography on the web are not using names that define the true content of the web site. They use colors, names of fruits and other things so that it is almost like a code. It can take a lot of time to identify these sites. She applauded Commissioner Storms for researching the issue and going into the library to see for herself what can be pulled up. She said the problem is that, even if the Library installs WebSense on all computers it won't solve even 80% of the problem. Sandra Cameron said that was the thing that bothered her, too.

Liz went on to say that the objectionable sites would be there no matter what. If a site is closed down one day, it is reopened under a different name the next. There is no way to keep track of it all. She said she does a lot of research in her office at work. She suggested that the user really has to look for pornography in order to find it. She said she's never had it just "pop up." Typing in a domain name, however, is a different matter. She said she is more wary of receiving trashy e-mail.

It was agreed that the Internet Use Subcommittee should meet and bring a recommendation back to the full Board.

COMMITTEE REPORTS:

PLANNING COMMITTEE:

None.

BUDGET COMMITTEE:

None.

POLICIES & BYLAWS COMMITTEE:

None.

INTERNET USE SUBCOMMITTEE:

None.

PUBLIC ART:

None.

DIRECTOR'S REPORT:

None.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS:

None.

NEW BUSINESS:

Joe Stines announced that THPL has added a few more hours using the current staff. The regionals and John Germany Library will open 1/2 hr. earlier on Sunday. John Germany, Brandon Regional, New Tampa Regional and Northwest Regional will be open until 6:00pm on Friday; and, Thonotosassa will be open from 10-7 on Thursdays. He said no action from the Library Board would be needed because no additional funding is needed. The new hours go into effect January 2.

ADJOURNMENT:

Sandra Cameron adjourned the meeting at 5:55pm

Next Library Board Meeting:
         Date: January 27, 2000
         Time: 3pm-6pm
         Location: John F. Germany Public Library

                 - Unless notified otherwise


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