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



Library Board Members Present:
Kay O'Rourke, Chairman
Linda Arnold, Vice Chairman
Sonja Garcia, liaison
Fred Hearns, Rosa Goldsmith,
Nancy Crippen, Dora Reeder
Helen Swisshelm, Sandra Cameron
Gloria Abrams, Elizabeth Blue
Catherine Cottle, Arnold Kotler
Library Board Excused:

Library Board Absent:

Library Staff:
Joe Stines, Director
Marcee Challener, Assistant Director
Jean Peters, Chief of Reference & Information
Marilyn Sheck,
      Manager of Automated Systems & Services
Linda Gillon,
      Manager of Staff & Administrative Support
Susan Oliver, Site Coordinator,
      North Tampa Branch Library

David Wullschleger, Chief of Operations
Suzy George, Facilities Officer
Patrice Koerper, Public Relations Coordinator
Jeannie Fletcher, Administrative Assistant

Special Guests:
Daniel A. Kleman, County Administrator
Jimmie Keel, Assistant County Administrator for Human Services
David Barberie, Assistant County Attorney
Roger Dean, Director of Information & Technology Services
Don Harwig, Director, Facilities Maintenance


Chairman Kay O'Rourke called the meeting to order at 4:00 PM. She extended a special welcome to County Administrator Dan Kleman and Assistant County Administrator Jimmie Keel.


Secretary, Rosa Goldsmith conducted the Roll Call for the meeting. All members were present. Kay O'Rourke took an opportunity to announce that Catherine Kelley had recently married. She asked Rosa to record that Catherine's new last name is "Cottle". Congratulations were extended.


Chairman O'Rourke asked if there were any corrections or additions to the January 22, 1998 minutes. As there were none, the minutes were approved by consensus.


Internet Use Subcommittee:

Kay O'Rourke introduced County Administrator, Dan Kleman and invited him to address the Library Board on the subject of the Internet. Mr. Kleman began by thanking the Board for giving him time on their agenda and for their hard work on behalf of the Library system.

Mr. Kleman explained that he had been instructed by the Board of County Commissioners to study the issue of Internet access at the Library and bring back a recommendation. He said he recognized the difficulty in balancing the needs of the community, the legal obligation to respect the right of free speech and the equally important obligation to protect minors from pornography. He congratulated the Library Board on their thoughtful and careful approach to the issue.

Mr. Kleman continued by saying that he had been asked by Commissioners to explore the possibility of using filtering software. He said he would like to ask the Library Board to consider the use of a filter for a trial period and suggested that this could be added to the list of ingredients already included in the Library Board's Internet Access Management Plan.

Mr. Kleman noted that a number of libraries have begun to use some sort of filtering technology. He said he would like to suggest a combination of approaches-- to implement the plan already approved by the Library Board but to add a trial of filtering technology. He noted that there is legitimate concern in the community about the levels of pornography available on the Internet and suggested that using a filter would be similar to making a decision about what should be put on the shelves and what should not. He said there is strong support from the public to try a filter to see if it works.

Mr. Kleman asked Joe Stines to comment. Joe said Mr. Kleman had spent quite a bit of time with staff learning about the Internet issue. The Internet Use SubCommittee also met recently and discussed Mr. Kleman's proposal. He said staff had looked at several types of filtering software. Knowing that there is no "ideal" product, they, nevertheless, felt that WebSENSE for Firewall-I had definite advantages. He explained that this is one of the versions of WebSENSE now available.

Joe pointed out that there had been 21 incidents involving pornography in the Library system since Internet was made available. He stressed that infractions have been dealt with by staff; monitoring has been easy because it is obvious from looking at the monitor if a patron is viewing inappropriate materials. On the other hand, it is not as easy to monitor chat and interactive games. He said monitoring the use of the latter is more of a problem than monitoring pornography. He pointed out that WebSENSE for Firewall-I can be set to block both chat and games. However, its overridefeature also allows librarians to unblock sites if they are deemed worthwhile for research purposes.

Joe said he thought of WebSENSE for Firewall-I as a management system rather than a filter. He noted the following advantages of the product: WebSENSE for Firewall-I:

  • blocks both chat and games
  • is not based on keyword blocking (blocking is done by category)
  • allows librarians to unblock sites
  • provides feedback pages to citizens so they can see why the site was blocked
  • provides reports to staff
  • permits staff to configure denial pages and set block categories
  • is installed on a server rather than on individual machines
  • would work well with the firewall being used by the County
  • is currently being used by Orange County in Orlando and Jacksonville Public and is deemed to be a
  • very user-friendly form of filtering

When asked to define a "firewall", Joe Stines asked Roger Dean to respond. Roger said a firewall is a group of programs which serve as an interface to keep people from breaking into a system. Joe stressed that the use of WebSENSE for Firewall-I would be added insurance; it would in no way nullify the plan already approved by the Library Board. Staff would still rely heavily on the Code of Conduct to enforce the rules regarding the displaying of pornography. Use of a Library Card number and pin would still be critical as well.

Sandra Cameron asked how much WebSENSE for Firewall-I would cost. Marilyn Mulla responded that it would cost approximately $30,000 initially and $10,000-$15,000 every year thereafter. Joe Stines pointed out that the Library should be getting major FCC discounts this year. The discounts make trying filtering software this year more cost effective.

Sonja Garcia suggested that, if the Library Board accepted the proposal, the public should not be lulled into a false sense of security. She stressed that filtering software is not failsafe. She said people would need to understand that all of the measures approved by the Library would make for an effective Internet access management program. There would be times, for example, when the Library would have to rely on the Code of Conduct. Joe Stines agreed and said recently awarded Gates Grant funds would be used to set up training labs for the public. Marilyn Mulla added that MCI grant monies could also be used to help with education. It was agreed that education of the public would still be a key ingredient of the overall Internet Access Management Plan.

Gloria Abrams asked about the educational value of chat for elementary school and high school students. Susan Oliver responded that chat rooms are used in the schools for very good purposes when students need to exchange information with teachers, authors and other students. She said it had definite advantages in a classroom setting but not in a public library.

Gloria Abrams asked if it would be legal to block chat. David Barberie, Assistant County Attorney for Library Services, noted that there is not a great deal of case law on this subject. However, he drew an analogy between blocking chat and using a collection development plan to decide what kinds of materials should be made available in the library. He did not think it would be illegal to block chat. He said the Supreme Court is leaning toward making Internet access a very liberal, First Amendment issue.

Gloria said her real question was whether or not chat belongs in the library at all. Joe Stines responded by saying that THPL's Code of Conduct bars chat because it does not fall within the Library Department's mission statement. Nor would there ever have enough staff to monitor its use. Dan Klemen agreed and compared chat to free long-distance phone service for patrons. He said he did not feel that it is a library's role to offer such a service. He added that part of the challenge would be to constantly re-define the library's mission as technology changes, however. The solution that is right for 1998 may not be right for the year 2000.

Gloria Abrams asked how staff would know if the filtering software was working. Susan Oliver responded that the program prints reports showing the number of complaints from customers, the number of times sites are blocked, the number of times people get through and shouldn't, etc. Gloria suggested that staff could get a lot of complaints from people who want to get into sites to do research and find they can't. Once again, Susan pointed out that librarians would have the option of unblocking sites but that, with blocking by category, there should be few such incidents.

Joe Stines reiterated that WebSENSE could not be viewed as the answer to the pornography issue. He stressed that it would be used as "added insurance" to be used in conjunction with the other parts of the plan already approved by the Library Board. He noted that the use of filtering software would give peace of mind to those in the community who have serious concerns about pornography on the Internet but are currently unfamiliar with the technology.

Gloria Abrams asked if the public would know that the use of WebSENSE is a trial. Joe Stines replied that it would be necessary to advertise it widely. He added that it would be necessary to explain the Library Board's decision to the press also.

Helen Swisshelm asked if the filter would be used systemwide for both children and adults. Joe Stines said "yes" and added that it would apply to Plant City and Temple Terrace if they choose to have Internet access through THPL.

Helen questioned the advisability of using filtering for adults. She offered the example of a 30 year old doctor who comes in to do research and finds sites blocked. Joe Stines pointed out that WebSENSE does not block by keyword; instead it uses categories. This reduces the number of erroneously blocked sites. He added that Orlando Public has their filter set to block only pornography and suggested that THPL could do the same.

Helen Swisshelm asked David Barberie how filtering relates to First Amendment Rights. Mr. Barberie responded that he did not think the policy of using a mild filter would be deemed unconstitutional. However, he added that there could be problems in its application if customers complain about being blocked from legitimate sites. He said the use of a filter should be defensible in light of the criminal statute regarding the responsibility of protecting minors from pornography; using filtering for adults may be another issue. Adults could make the legal case that they have a right to see certain sites which are blocked by a filter. He suggested that complaints could be referred to the County Attorney's Office for handling if necessary.

Mr. Kleman said it was entirely possible that the Library could be challenged legally if it implements the current Internet Management Access Plan or if it adds filtering as an ingredient. Either course of action could result in a lawsuit--on the one hand, from the defenders of First Amendment rights and, on the other, by those who are seeking to protect minors. Joe Stines agreed and said some libraries are being sued by two groups at once--those who think they are using too much filtering and those who think they are not using enough.

Arnold Kotler asked about the connection between the filtering and the materials selection policy. He expressed concern that filtering could "bleed through" and affect book selection as well. He asked if it would precipitate the censoring of standard reading materials like Lady Chatterly's Lover. Joe Stines responded that it could be a problem in the future; however, he did not see a problem for the present time. He added that he didn't see a direct connection between the electronic resources policy and the selection policy for printed matter.

Catherine Cottle asked if staff had looked at consumer information on WebSENSE. Joe Stines responded that his staff had examined an abundance of information. She asked if the County has Firewall. Joe responded "yes--but theirs is a totally separate system."

Sandra Cameron suggested that the Library Board have a standing committee to review new products as they become available. She said the Internet Use Subcommittee needs to remain intact. Joe Stines agreed and said that recommendation is already part of the approved Internet Access Management Plan. The Internet Use Subcommittee will continue to meet and research new products as they become available for use in public libraries.

Helen Swisshelm asked Joe Stines for his assessment of WebSENSE. Joe replied that he supported a trial and felt comfortable with it because librarians can unblock sites. Sonja Garcia said she agreed and said the Internet Use Subcommittee also supported the use of WebSENSE on a trial basis. She pointed out that the Internet Use Subcommittee felt strongly that the original Internet Access Management Plan would address the issue; however, she added that the members also recognized a responsibility to serve people who are have strong feelings about pornography on the Internet. She reminded the Library Board that WebSENSE would be used on a trial basis. She reiterated that the Internet Use Subcommittee sought to protect the information needs of the community while allaying the fears of those who have concerns.

Helen Swisshelm asked Sonja if USF Library uses filtering. Sonja responded with an emphatic "no," but argued that an academic library is completely different from a public library. She said she could support the use of WebSENSE in a public setting. However, she could not support its use in an academic setting. She stressed that the missions of public libraries and academic libraries could not be compared at all.

Dan Kleman said he wanted to make two additional comments: 1) that his proposal to the Library Board was not so much a compromise as a more comprehensive approach 2) that he would do everything he could to keep decisions regarding the library in the hands of the Library Board. He stressed his belief that the Library Board's decisions would be the most carefully and deliberately thought out. He added that, after meeting with the Library Board, he hoped to be able to report to the BOCC that the issue had been resolved.

Fred Hearns suggested inviting the media for a demonstration of WebSENSE so as to dispel any misinformation about what the library is doing. All agreed that would be a very good idea. Fred suggested further that the media could actually become allies in this matter if they really understood.

Elizabeth Blue agreed and reiterated that the issue of displaying pornography is not as serious as many people think it is; hacking, chat and interactive games are even more of a problem currently. She pointed out that people have to be looking hard for pornography in order to find it on the Internet; it doesn't just appear suddenly. She supported the use of WebSense as a management tool in that it would do much more than provide a simple filter. She said the original Internet Access Management Plan would deal with pornography very well; WebSENSE for Firewall I could be used to handle the blocking of chat and interactive games.

Helen Swisshelm commented that she had attended the BOCC meeting during which the Commissioner expressed concern about pornography and children; however, she said she didn't recall concern about adults. Helen reiterated that she felt comfortable using filtering for children but not for adults. Nor did she object to blocking chat.

Catherine Cottle asked if librarians could unblock some chat. Joe Stines said "no--it's an all or none proposition."

Dora Reeder asked about the timeframe for installing WebSENSE. Joe responded that it could be installed by October 1. He explained that the 5th Modification to the DYNIX Agreement would have to be approved by the BOCC first. In the meantime, staff will rely on the original plan approved by the Library Board.

Gloria Abrams noted that there had been only 21 incidents with pornography in the entire Library system since the introduction of Internet. She said this was a very small number considering the size of the system. She questioned why the Internet Use Subcommittee's original recommendation had to be compromised. She stressed that, if the Library Board approved a trial of WebSENSE, it should retain the option of going back to the original plan.

Gloria went on to say that she recognized that it is difficult to allay the fears of those who don't understand computers. However, she said it would be just as difficult to control people who insist that filtering is an infraction of their rights. She cautioned that the Library Board could take that into consideration in making a decision.

Kay O'Rourke asked how long the trial would be. Joe Stines responded that the Library would try it for 6 months to a year. Because of the expense and technical difficulty required to set the software up, he felt a year was more reasonable. He said the situation should be looked at again closely at the end of that time.

Dora Reeder asked what Mr. Kleman would have to do if the Library Board approved of this plan. Mr. Kleman explained that he would report to the BOCC on March 18. He said he would like to say that he recommended the action taken by the Library Board. For that reason, he was asking the Board for their support on testing filtering software for a designated period of time.


Elizabeth Blue made a motion that the Internet Use Subcommittee modify its original Internet Access Management Plan to include a trial of WebSENSE for a period of one year. Dora Reeder seconded the motion.

Kay O'Rourke called for further discussion.

Helen Swisshelm commented that it was inconceivable to her that the County would spend $30,000-$40,000 on software and then abandon it in six months to a year. She said again that she could support filtering for children but not adults. For these reasons, she said she could not vote in favor using WebSENSE unless only parts of the program could be used (i.e., use it to block chat and games and filter for children, but not for adults).

Kay O'Rourke said she felt comfortable that librarians can unblock sites. She said the software offered flexibility. She added that she could speak first hand about the fact that Internet has information that isn't available in any other format. She said she experienced that personally when she had to do research on venereal disease in cattle. Joe pointed out that she would not have been able to get the information if a keyword filter had been in place. WebSENSE would have allowed access to this information.

Gloria Abrams asked that the original motion be modified slightly to include verbiage indicating that the Library Board's action regarding a trial version of filtering software would be consistent with its original plan.


Elizabeth Blue amended the motion to read: "Consistent with the Library Board's approved Internet Access Management Plan, the Internet Use Subcommittee recommends a test trial of filtering software like WebSENSE as a management tool for a period of one year. Dora Reeder seconded the amended motion.

      - The motion passed 10-1.

Mr. Kleman thanked the Library Board for their support.


Members of the public were on hand to offer comments regarding the disposition of the Eastlake Branch Library. Kay O'Rourke welcomed them and invited those present to speak.

Martha K. Van Valkenburg: Mrs. Van Valkenburg expressed concern that there is no public transportation to the Wal-Mart Plaza site on S.R. 579. She said she did not drive and had to rely on the bus. She also said she likes the current hours and would not want to lose access to this branch.

Joe Stines responded that Hartline has a stop near the Wal-Mart Plaza site. The #38 services the location once every hour. He said transportation issues had been taken into consideration by the Planning Committee.

Paula Jerkins: Ms. Jerkins said she uses Eastlake heavily. She asked about the proposed new location for Eastlake. Kay O'Rourke explained that the Wal-Mart area in Seffner was being looked at. Ms. Jerkins said that was a long way from Eastlake. College Hill would also be too far for her. She also expressed concern about transportation.

Gloria Abrams asked if Temple Terrace would be an option for her. Ms. Jerkins said it would be convenient for her personally but she didn't know if the bus went there. Joe Stines responded that Bus Route #6 goes through Temple Terrace. He added that Hillsborough County pays a considerable amount in grant funds to Temple Terrace Library so as to make it available to all residents of the County.

Mary Neumeier: Ms. Neumeier, a former librarian, said she supported the idea of having a library n a mall because it is where people congregate. She suggested that if Eastlake is moved out of the mall, the Library may want to move it back someday. She also expressed concerned about bus routes and said she was in tune with people who have depend upon public transportation. She said, if the Library Board did vote to move Eastlake, it should be to a place where people go to shop, pay bills, etc.

Kay O'Rourke thanked those present for coming and invited them to stay for the Planning Committee report.


Planning Committee:

  1. Eastlake:
    Sandra Cameron began by giving a brief history of the Eastlake Branch Library. She said it started as the East Gate Library and then moved to the mall as the Eastlake Branch. Since then both College Hill, Temple Terrace and 78th Street opened within five miles of that site. Sandra pointed out that Temple Terrace is doubling in size and would soon be open Thursday evenings and on Sundays. She said Eastlake's statistics have continued to decline steadily; check-outs are down, registrations are off, holds and programming are down, etc. With the lease expiring in June, the Planning Committee felt pressed to offer a recommendation to the Library Board on the disposition of this branch as soon as possible.

    Sandra continued by saying that a survey conducted by staff indicated that most Eastlake customers have another branch to go to. On February 2, 1998, the Planning Committee participated in a driving tour conducted by Charlie Prather, County Real Estate. At that time the site at the Wal-Mart Plaza on S.R. 579 was visited. She said it was the recommendation of the Planning Committee that the Eastlake's materials and staff be moved to the Seffner/Mango area. She said more people would be served and bus service would still be available. Nancy Crippen pointed out that the people from Seffner/Mango were the only ones in the survey who didn't have another branch to patronize.

    Helen Swisshelm asked if the Library would lease the building. Joe said "yes." However, the final decision would have to go before the BOCC. He added that the owners of the strip mall would do all the building modifications; the cost would be absorbed over time through the lease agreement. Helen also asked if there would be ample parking at the proposed site and Joe responded that there was. He said the building is already adapted for ADA as well.

    Helen Swisshelm suggested that the Library Board vote on the Planning Committee's recommendation. Joe Stines suggested that the vote be done in two steps: first, to relocate or not and second, to pursue this site.

    Sandra Cameron reiterated that the Planning Committee recommended re-locating Eastlake's resources (materials and staff).

    The Library Board voted 8-0 to approve the Planning Committee's recommendation to relocate Eastlake's material and staff.

    Sandra Cameron continued by saying that the Planning Committee also recommended relocating the Eastlake Branch to the Wal-Mart Plaza Shopping Center in the Seffner/Mango area.

    The Library Board voted 8-0 to re-locate the Eastlake Branch Library to the Wal-Mart Plaza Shopping Center in the Seffner/Mango area.

  2. Northwest Regional Library:
    Don Harwig, Director of Facilities, was on hand to give an update on the Northwest Regional Library. He said the County Administrator was in the process of informing the BOCC about the current conditions in the library. A Staff Report went to them on February 18 and would be followed in 30 days with specific recommendations. Mr. Harwig said the recommendations would include those already discussed with the Library Board, i.e., to expand the building within its current footprint, upgrade the mechanical systems and design an addition. Don said Senator Grant and Representative Culp had proposed legislation to provide funds to assist with the renovations. The County would need to supply matching funds.

    Mr. Harwig said the de-humidifying equipment had been fighting the effects of El Niño. So far there had been no more roof leaks. Humidity is down to 40% and reports are being provided on a weekly basis to the consultant to be sure everything is being done correctly. The building is basically stabilized.

    Helen Swisshelm asked how the libraries had fared in all the rain. Mr. Harwig said there had been no major problems. Some minor leaks in the older buildings had been fixed. He said Northwest was in the process of being waterproofed. One wall was being done. Elizabeth Blue asked if the County would waterproof only one wall of the building and suggested it would be better to do the entire building. Mr. Harwig said it would all be done eventually; however, funding is a concern at the current time.

    Linda Arnold asked about the site for the Jan Platt Regional Library. Mr. Harwig said it appears to be staying fairly dry. Joe Stines confirmed this and said he had checked on the site recently.

    Gloria Abrams asked what was being done to the property adjacent to Northwest. She said a contractor has cleared the land and is laying pipe. Mr. Harwig said he didn't know but would investigate. Joe Stines commented that he thought the office complex was doing some work (possibly parking expansion).

    Sandra Cameron said the Planning Committee supported staff's recommendations regarding Northwest, i.e., to:

    • stabilize the building
    • expand the building within the current footprint
    • put the building of an addition on the CIT list

  3. Sites for SE County and South County Libraries:
    Sandra said the Planning Committee looked at sites for a SE County and South County Regional Libraries during their drive-around with Charlie Prather. The Committee continues to look at potential locations.


  1. Naming of the renovated Commerce Bank Building:
    Joe Stines said it was very important for the Board to make a recommendation on the new name for the Port Tampa Library. He explained that the Port Tampa Civic Association supports the name "Port Tampa City Library" as it reflects the historical flavor of the area; at their last meeting over 60 members voted unanimously in support of this name. He said staff agreed with the recommendation and added that this suggestion would be brought to the BOCC via an agenda item on March 4. A dedication is planned for June 14.

    Catherine Cottle questioned the new name as Port Tampa is no longer legally "Port Tampa City." Joe explained that the name doesn't have to be "legal." Dora Reeder countered by saying that the Library Board should support the name proposed by the people in the area.

    Gloria Abrams said she understood the wishes of the citizens but wouldn't want people to think that the library belongs to the City of Tampa. Joe responded that Mr. Kleman voiced the same concern at Agenda Review. He was informed that the people in the area have always to referred to the area as Port Tampa City. Joe said he didn't think the name would cause confusion.


    Helen Swisshelm made a motion that the Library Board agree with the recommendation of the community in suggesting that the Commerce Bank Building be named the "Port Tampa City Library." Dora Reeder seconded the motion.

          - The motion passed 8-0.

  2. Letter to the Editors of the Tampa Tribune and St. Petersburg Times:
    In light of the fact that the Library Board voted to modify the Internet Access Management Plan to include a trial of filtering software, it was suggested that sending a letter to the editors of the Tribune and Times would be counter-productive at this time.


    Dora Reeder made a motion to rescind the January 22, 1998 recommendation to send letters to the Editors of the Tampa Tribune and St. Petersburg Times. Elizabeth Blue seconded the motion.

          - The motion passed 8-0.


Joe Stines highlighted the following:

  • the awarding of a Gates Grant to the Library
  • the willingness of a donor to help finance the next phase of the Egypt Lake project

For all other items of interest he referred the Board to his written report.


As there were no Budget Committee updates or reports from the Public Art Committee, Kay O'Rourke adjourned the meeting at 6:30 PM.

Next Library Board Meeting:
         Date: March 26, 1998
         Time: 4pm-6pm
         Location: College Hill Branch Library

                 - Unless notified otherwise

Hillsborough County Comments | Contact Us | THPL.org | HCPLC.org
© Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library System
Member: Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative

Site established: March 15, 1995  |  Page revised: June 30, 2014