Library patrons allowed to surf porn, Ottawa mom discovers – Ottawa

A family trip to the local library left an Ottawa woman and her two daughters shaken after they observed a man watching hardcore pornography at a public computer terminal.

What surprised Jennifer St. Pierre even more, however, was to find out that the man was perfectly within his rights.

‘It opened up a dialogue I never thought I’d be having with my 11-year-old about what that man was watching. It was not right for me to have to do that at that age.’
– Jennifer St. Pierre

St. Pierre said she was searching for a book at the Greenboro branch of the Ottawa Public Library (OPL) in late July when her daughters, ages 11 and 13, told her they’d seen something disturbing on a nearby computer screen.

“My 13-year-old came up to me and said, ‘Mom, I think there’s somebody watching something inappropriate over there.’ I went over and sure enough this man was watching very graphic porn. You could see the site was pornhub.com,” St. Pierre said, referring to a popular free porn site.

Jennifer St. Pierre and her daughters, ages 11 and 13. (Jennifer St. Pierre)

The man was sitting at a public computer terminal in a high-traffic area of the library. St. Pierre immediately informed a staff member, then took her children home, she said.

After sharing her experience on social media and hearing from one friend that what the man was doing was in fact allowed, an incredulous St. Pierre decided to follow up with the library the next day.

She was told anyone can access online pornography at the Ottawa Public Library, so long as the material they’re viewing is legal and they’re over 18, she said.

“I was really angry,” St. Pierre said. “It opened up a dialogue I never thought I’d be having with my 11-year-old about what that man was watching. It was not right for me to have to do that at that age.”

‘We respect their intellectual freedom’

The manager of branch operations for the Ottawa Public Library, Catherine Seaman, said library staff aren’t in the business of policing what patrons are viewing on the internet.

OPL’s manager of branch operations, Catherine Seaman, said staff will not censor legal content but may ask a patron viewing pornography to move to another computer. (CBC News)

“When it comes to adults accessing information, we respect their intellectual freedom,” Seaman said.

OPL has web filters in place to block access to illegal material such as child pornography and hate literature. Otherwise content is not…

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