Librarian to be Fired After Offender Uses Library Computers to Access Illegal Sites

The Internet Patrol - Patrolling the Internet for You

 

Florida librarian Sue Martin has been suspended, and the Valparaiso City Commissioner is recommending that she be fired, after Michael Bushee, a registered offender, used the Valparaiso library’s computers to access illegal online child-themed content. Authorities claim that three male minors also accessed adult content from the library’s computers.

Said Martin, in a letter to City Commissioner Robert Billingsley, “We continually enforce our policy by monitoring all computers. Any suspicious use is immediately checked by accessing the history of the patrons’ Web use. In addition, the staff monitors the patrons’ use by ‘walkthroughs’ of the computer areas.”

Billingsley has declined to explain either why the charges are being brought, why these measures were apparently insufficient, or why he believes that Martin should be fired, which raises some interesting questions.


Exactly what are a library’s responsibilities in policing this sort of activity? Are monitoring computer usage, walkthroughs, and even studying a patron’s usage history not enough? (Some would argue that snooping into a patron’s usage history is too much.)

Should Martin have instructed her staff to demand a patron’s registered sex offender status at the door? To check the registered offender registry against each patron’s i.d.? To post someone at every single computer, 24/7?
Just how much is enough?

And when, oh when, are we going to demand responsibility and accountability from individuals, instead of insisting on babysitting the world, and holding the babysitters accountable?

No Paywall Here!
The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free?
Click for amount options
Other Amount:
What info did you find here today?:
Get notified of new Internet Patrol articles for free!
No Paywall Here!
The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free?
Click for amount options
Other Amount:
What info did you find here today?:

11 thoughts on “Librarian to be Fired After Offender Uses Library Computers to Access Illegal Sites

  1. That librarian is never at the library. Maybe 2 hrs a day on average. She spends the day going to breakfast and lunch with her friends (one of which is a commissioner or some other type of board member).

    Mr. Billingsley is aware of this and is of the opinion that maybe this would not have happened had she done her job. Perhaps it would have happened anyways, but in this case, it would have been nice had she come to work once in a while.

  2. Anything that does not belong to you should be able to be monitored or audited, no different than if one was at the workplace. The key here is, “Any suspicious use is immediately checked by accessing the history of the patrons’ Web use. In addition, the staff monitors the patrons’ use by ‘walkthroughs’ of the computer areas.” The librarian is not handcuffed to each computer user, nor is she knowledgeable about every sequence of events that takes place.

    There are many freedoms that we have that are unfortunately abused. Freedom does not mean liberty to what one pleases outside given parameters; the freedom to own a gun does not define killing anyone at will; freedoms must be governed in order to protect one another against abuse. When they are exceeded, it is no longer freedom; it is disobedience of the laws of the land. Our infringement on real freedom is also against the law, and anyone within that framework is also ideally protected. There must always be a balance against the right to do whatever one pleases and the imposition of too much restraint. You can go 55 MPH or under, but not too much under or too much over before getting a ticket. You can walk across any street at the appropriate location, but you cannot J-Walk. I cannot go to a bank and take money that does not rightfully belong to me, but I can withdraw all money that is already mine.

    Whether the Librarian was watching every computer or not does not make her responsible for the wrongful actions of others; those actions are individual choices. If one does what is right, he is left alone; if not, he pays the piper.

    The law says that if the perpetrator is caught, he suffers the consequences if he is found guilty in a court of law. The milkman who delivers milk is not liable if the customer is poisoned because of poor-quality bottling at the warehouse.

    Should I care? Am I my brother’s keeper? In a manner of speaking, yes. I should want to protect my neighbor from harm’s way. If I am a librarian who sees wrong-doing, I now become responsible for what I know, and am obligated to do what I know is right. By ignoring my responsibilities, I am participating in what I know is wrongful, but if I am unaware, then I do not possess such knowledge and should not be held liable. So there is willful intent, which also must be proven. In this way, I do care, and I am my brother’s keeper.

    At this point, there is insufficient information about what the librarian knew or did not know to form any just decision on whether she was at fault.

  3. The comments of those individuals listed under items 5, 6 amd 7 say it all! I’m a retired City of Austin employee(Library Dept.) and I’m well-acquainted with the bureaucratic process and mindset. Scapegoating is alive and well, but management tends to protect their own, when possible.
    In our libraries, there is some filtering, but our policy is not to be overzealous in monitoring what patrons are accessing. There is a separate computer area for our younger patrons, with more safeguards there.

  4. This is the kind of thing I would expect from the Nazi party and am not particularly suprised to read about it happening in any red state. Those with small minds fear the thoughts of others.

  5. Libraries who receive federal funding for internet are forced to filter computer access. The problem is the filters don’t work. They don’t filter graphics, only words, only in English and can’t separate a helpful site about breast cancer from a porn site because both use the word ‘breast’. The filters can be got around by any ten year old with a few minutes to spare. People think filters are the perfect solution to avoid having to take personal responsibility for what they are viewing. The whole story seems like a typical knee-jerk reaction. Somebody did something wrong, so let’s target a scapegoat!

  6. This is ridiculous. Since when is a librarian resposible for what a patron reads whether in print or on a computer. This is a classic case of city government passing the buck and looking for a scapegoat.If they do fire her i hope she sues them for all she can.

  7. I am baffled by the comments of Flores and Fores, who seem not to have read the story. The threatened librarian is a woman, unconnected to the offender; nothing in the story suggests that he was a library employee, or that anyone “gave permission to minors to view” anything.

  8. Typical pencil-pusher attitude, cut off the head to spite the foot. The librarian isn’t the one at fault here. She’s being punished because the courts let this sicko back out on our streets. Another reason that sexual predators should not be among us.

    As the network admin for a local school district, it amazes me that public libraries are not required like we are to content filter public access pc’s. Federal funding provides our internet access, and part of the requirements is to limit what internet browsers are able to access. Seems it should be the same with public libraries. The recieve the same federal technology funding as school districts do.

  9. This guy should at least get a ticket, because he broke the law of the library.May be if this guy gets hired in another library he might do the same thing.And on top of that, he gave permission to minors to view this sites, now that is just wrong.

    Well, Thank you.

  10. I think that man should get fired.Because what he did is just unacceptable.And next time, nobody should hire him for an administradorn of a library.
    Thank You…

  11. This is about equivalent to someone walking into Robert Billingsley’s office and using his phone to conduct a fraudulent transaction, with Billingsley being fired by his superior for ‘not protecting office resources sufficiently’. This has all the marks of professional scapegoating — I am a bit surprised that the ALA has not invoked sanctions in this case.

    Were I, as a certified library professional, looking for a job, I certainly would avoid Valpariso City!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *