For those of you who picked up a copy of the Pioneer this week or browsed their online site, you might have noticed two opinion pieces concerning the Library and non-student library users.
Whitney Knight’s Shady Visitors Contort Purpose of Library
Jeremy Cloud’s Excluding Public Contradictory to College’s Role
What follows is Barbara King’s, OCCC Library Director, response to the two July 23rd opinion pieces.
As Director of the Keith Leftwich Memorial Library, I am pleased we are able to serve both the campus community as well as the public at large. OCCC has a long history of service to the surrounding community. While the Library’s primary goal has and continues to be support of the curriculum and student information needs as they relate to course work, we also feel strongly that supporting non-academic needs is important as well.
As librarians, we do not feel it appropriate to judge the information needs of our users. As long as users are not violating the law or campus policy (for example, viewing pornography) we see our role as information access providers. To deny access to computers because we do not feel the use is “worthy” would be no better than banning books.
During the spring 2010 semester there were a total of 5 incidents of computer misuse (violations of the College’s Information Technology Resources Acceptable Use Policy) compared to 19 from a year ago. There were over 37,000 separate logins during that same period of time, so characterizing our patrons as “seedy” seems inappropriate. It is important to note that not all the incidents of computer misuse are by the public. There have been students who have violated the Acceptable Use Policy and been reported.
The Library staff has always monitored computer usage to ensure that students are given priority. In January the Library implemented a sign-in system like the one recommended by Mr. Cloud. Non-students must show a valid ID to use the computers and are only allowed to remain on if there are no students waiting. With over 80 computers available, we are not aware of any time that students were unable to find an open computer. Even prior to the implementation of the login system, instances when all computers were in use were rare.
Given the long history of libraries in society as free providers of information, I find the parallel drawn between the Library and the Recreation and Fitness Center to be misleading. Further, after working with patrons in the Library for 29 years, I can assure Ms. Knight that a $5 or $10 fee could very well be beyond the reach of many of our users. She may want to read the article by Danniel Parker in the July 23 issue on the homeless struggling for an education.
Director of Library Services