Children and LibrariesAnother interesting story I spotted on LISNews: Brenda Biesterfeld, a staff member at the Tulare County Library in central California, lost her job after turning a library user in to the police. She called 911 after seeing a man viewing child pornography on a library PC. The story on the CBS 47 site says:

… Biesterfeld says by calling the police, she disobeyed the direction of a supervisor. The supervisor told her to make a note on the man’s library account and tell him to stop looking at the pictures. Biesterfeld felt that the authorities needed to be alerted, so she called the police anyway. When police did get involved, they found thousands of images of child pornography. 39-year-old Donnie Chrisler was arrested, and a day and a half later; Biesterfeld was out of a job.

But now her supervisor – Brian Lewis, the county librarian – is in hot water. His bosses, the Tulare County Supervisors, have called him in for an “unscheduled performance evaluation.”

It’s a fascinating situation. Every library manager hesitates over doing something that will gain a big mess of unflattering attention in the community. And I know that it’s typical to keep notes or incident reports on library users to document their behavior in case it’s necessary to bar them from the library in the future.

But neither do you want library users committing crimes in the building. Last I heard, viewing pornographic photos of children is an illegal act, and if you spotted someone in the library, say, beating up kids or stealing purses, you’d call the police, wouldn’t you?

You always have to think – how is this decision going to look if it hits the front page of the paper?