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



In the absence of Chairman Linda Arnold, Helen Swisshelm called the meeting to order at 4:00pm


Dora Reeder, Secretary, called the roll.

Library Board Members Present:
Catherine Bartolotti
Sandra Cameron, Nancy Crippen
Josephine Gracia, Elizabeth Blue
Fred Hearns, Arnold Kotler
Dora Reeder, Helen Swisshelm
Library Board Excused:
Linda Arnold

Library Board Absent:
Kay O'Rourke

Library Staff Present:
Joe Stines, Director
Marcee Challener, Manager of Public Services
David Wullschleger, Chief of Operations
Jean Peters, Chief of Reference & Information
Marilyn Sheck, Manager, Automated Systems & Services

Janet Lorenzo, Chief of Community and Access
Priscilla Lakus, Chief of Youth Services
Suzy George, Facilities Officer
Jeannie Fletcher, Administrative Assistant
Linda Gillon, Manager, Staff & Administrative Support

Special Guests:
David Barberie, Assistant County Attorney
Nancy Becker, USF Intern
Members of the Public:
Jerusha Tyson, President, West Tampa Friends of the Library
Barbara Edwards, West Tampa Friends member.


Helen Swisshelm called for additions or corrections to the December 3, 1998 Library Board minutes. Catherine Bartolotti pointed out that the time of adjournment was incorrect. After the error was noted, the minutes were approved as written.


"THPL'S Internet Access Management Plan Revisited" - David Barberie, Assistant County Attorney for Library Services

David Barberie said that it would be advisable to revisit the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library's (THPL's) Internet Access Management Plan, given that there have been changes in the law and the Library's filter has not been activated yet. He mentioned the following developments:

The court in Louden County, VA ruled that it was unconstitutional for the public library to use filtering software for adults. (Adults cannot be reduced to the level of a child.) As of November 1998, it was reported that over 1600 U.S. public libraries (14.6%) were using filtering software on some or all of their public Internet work stations. (Over 7% were using filters on all stations.) Proposed federal legislation would require the use of a filter on at least one computer in each library in order to retain universal service assistance. When citizens sued the city of Livermore, CA, for failing to install a filtering system, the case was dismissed by the court. A similar case filed in 1997 against the School Board in Broward County has yet to be decided. In both cases, the complaint was that filtering had not been installed.

David said that the filter approved by the Library Board and Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) has been recommended by at least one filtering proponent because the stoplist is reasonably accurate. Furthermore, it can be customized. Keyword blocking can be turned off and sites can be unblocked. Nevertheless, he said he felt some aspects of the Library's Acceptable Use of Electronic Resources Policy might need to be refined. Elements that remain nebulous include the following:

  1. the location of the computers in the library
  2. the age of majority
  3. the use of the filter on selected computers
  4. the need for parental permission for children to have full Internet access

David went on to explain that the library system in Louden County decided not to provide e-mail, Chat or access to pornography. They were using the X-Stop filtering system. This software was intended to block out obscene material, pornography and materials harmful to minors. It blocked out much more than this, however. The court determined that the X-Stop filter blocked legitimate sites that were in no way obscene or harmful to minors. The computers were in full view of library staff. If patrons wanted to unblock a site, they had to provide personal information and justification.

The Louden case held or implied the following:

  • Libraries cannot be sued for monetary damages in cases involving Internet filtering. A change in policy may be mandated, however.
  • Filtering is not comparable to an acquisition decision. It is a decision to remove material. The court determined that, once the Internet is offered, all of it must be made available. To filter would be to censure.
  • Libraries are limited public forums. The least restrictive means must be used to curtail limitations on speech. A compelling state interest must be served in order to limit free speech.
  • Minimizing the amount of pornography available to children is a Acompelling state interest.
  • Internet use policies, privacy screens, filtering a limited number of computers, locating full access terminals in less public areas and using a filter that can be deactivated were viewed as possible alternatives to using a restrictive filter.
  • An adult cannot legally be brought down to the level of a child.
  • The education of adults regarding the Internet is recommended.
  • The law should be enforced when criminal violations occur.
  • Imposing time limits on the use of the Internet may be acceptable.
  • The use of library staff to monitor computer usage may be acceptable.
  • Installing a filter on children's terminals may be acceptable.
  • The method of unblocking sites must not be unduly burdensome.
  • Library staff should know what sites are being blocked.
  • Access to the Internet includes the right to provide and receive information.
The court did not rule on Chat.

In summary, David said polar opposites are at work with the courts saying that it is unconstitutional to use filtering software for adults and the legislature saying that minors must be protected from pornography. An Internet policy that prohibits adults from accessing non-pornographic information is subject to challenge. A more supportable approach would be to limit full Internet access to selected computers and/or provide an easy mechanism for unblocking sites. David said the use of privacy screens, the education of patrons, and the strengthening of the existing usage policy should all be considered. He affirmed WebSense as a viable product but cautioned that it cannot be used for adults and children in the same way.

Elizabeth Blue said she found it remarkable that THPL has complied with almost all of the court's suggestions through the current Internet Access Management Plan. David Barberie noted that the Library Board did change from having a no-filter policy to using a filter on the lowest setting. He said the court in Louden County, VA would probably find WebSense unacceptable for adults.

Elizabeth said the Library Board approved WebSense because it can be unblocked easily. David Barberie responded that a problem arises when sites are blocked and customers don't even know which ones they're not getting access to. A customer could claim that asking to have sites unblocked is unduly burdensome. David stressed that, if THPL used WebSense on even the lowest setting for adults, the County could be subject to a lawsuit.

Elizabeth pointed out that the current plan excludes Chat and games. She asked how this would affect future policy. David said eliminating Chat on the basis of content would not be defensible; however, not offering this service to begin with most likely would be.

Elizabeth Blue asked if the Internet Use Management Plan states that Chat is not offered. Joe Stines responded: No, it does not. Joe agreed that this should be mentioned.

Helen Swisshelm commented that the Library Board did not favor filtering originally. The first plan was amended and WebSense was subsequently purchased. She asked how the recent court rulings would affect THPL's decision to filter. David responded that the policy approved by the Library Board and adopted by the BOCC is in place. Any changes would most likely have to be brought before the BOCC. He commented that, in his opinion, filtering adults on even the lowest setting would become a legal problem. He acknowledged that 75% of the sites blocked probably should be. However, if only 10% are being blocked without good reason, there will be a problemCespecially if the process of unblocking a site is onerous.

Elizabeth Blue reminded the Board that they authorized parents to decide whether or not their children could have full Internet access. She asked when this part of the plan would be implemented. Joe Stines responded that the Library is at least one year away from having this capability through DYNIX.

Elizabeth also reminded the Board that they approved WebSense because it included the firewall, a device that provides crucial protection for the entire system.

Joe said the Library Board could choose from the following options since WebSense has been purchased but not activated:

  1. Leave the filter turned off and use WebSense for the firewall only. (No money would be wasted since most of the $30,000 price tag was spent on equipment and only $5,000-$6,000 was spent on the filter itself.)
  2. Use WebSense to filter children's computers only. This will necessitate determining the age of majority and re-registering all children.

Helen asked if Mr. Kleman had been informed of the recent court rulings on the Internet. David said Mr. Kleman and the Commissioners have been kept informed.

Joe commented that THPL now has electronic libraries in recreation centers operated by the County's Parks & Recreation Department. Library staff members have been warned not to make pornography available where there are so many children. Joe said he didn't think there would be a problem in choosing what to offer in recreation centers. Nevertheless, some direction from the Library Board would be needed.

Helen Swisshelm asked if there had been any new incidents. Joe responded that Temple Terrace had the last major problem. The police were called when someone was using the open access terminal to send hate mail to a police officer. Jean Peters said the most recent incident she could recall occurred at the John F. Germany Public Library. A man was looking over women's shoulders to get their e-mail addresses so he could send them messages.

Nancy Crippen asked if anyone had complained about not being able to get to a particular site. Joe said no because the filter has not been activated.

Arnold Kotler pointed out that the two incidents just mentioned have nothing to do with pornography or children. He questioned whether or not it would be advisable to monitor the situation a little longer before activating WebSense. He suggested that the Library might be premature and over zealous in trying to address potential rather than real situations. Joe said that would be a Library Board decision and suggested that the matter be referred to the Internet Use Subcommittee.

Sandra Cameron asked if the Library Board would have to get their own attorneys if THPL is sued. David explained that he represents Hillsborough CountyCnot the Library Board. Joe Stines commented that the Library Board serves as an advisory board only. It is not a governing board. The Library Board's recommendations go to the County Administrator and the County Administrator can decide whether or not to take the matter to the Board of County Commissioners. Ultimately, Mr. Kleman and the Board of County Commissioners must take responsibility for any decisions they make.

Arnold Kotler asked if the American Library Association (ALA) had changed its anti-filtering policy. Joe said, no. ALA remains firmly against filtering for anyone, children or adults. ALA believes that parents should know what their children are doing at all times.

Joe asked David if the Internet Access Management Plan approved by the Library Board and Board of County Commissioners would be deemed unconstitutional on the grounds that there are rules governing what adults can and cannot do. For example, adults are prohibited from displaying and printing obscene material. David said this should be looked at more closely; however, if something is truly obscene, it cannot be displayed. The problem comes in defining what is obscene. He said he would be much more concerned if the word "pornography" had been used because not all pornography is obscene. He added that there is no constitutional right to have obscene materials.

Joe agreed that Library staff could be sued if they tell an adult that he or she can't view something because it is obscene and then a court decides it was pornographic but not obscene. David said there could be no monetary damages in this kind of case. Therefore, it's unlikely that it would be taken to court. What has more potential is the case of adults suing because they find they cannot get to legitimate sites.

David suggested that this concern be brought up at the Trespass Workshop being held on March 18, 9:00a.m., at the College Hill Branch Library. Joe explained that the Library would be conducting a seminar for staff on the Internet Use and Trespassing. Representatives of the Sheriff's Office, State Attorney's Office and Tampa PD will participate. He invited the Library Board to attend.

Helen Swisshelm said that only one segment of the population was heard from when the Library Board made their final decision regarding what to include in the Internet Access Management Plan. Joe said that's why staff supported WebSense. Helen said she was under the impression it would be used for all customers in the library. Joe said it could be if the Library chose to activate the filter on all machines.

David Barberie said it was the Board of County Commissioners who decided to use WebSense on the lowest setting for all customers. This was not the decision of the Library Board. He said the Library Board voted to use WebSense for children. When it was discussed at the BOCC level, it evolved into a policy of filtering for everyone. David reiterated that the Library Board is only a starting point. The County Administrator and BOCC have the final decisionCif the County Administrator choses to bring the matter before the BOCC again.

Elizabeth Blue said the minutes reflect that the Library Board supported WebSense because of the Firewall. Joe said many other library boards are facing the same dilemma and are taking a second look at their policies.

Arnold Kotler commented that the Board of County Commissioners went against the Library Board's original recommendation that was designed to avoid carte blanche censorship. He said the matter is a time bomb and should be reconsidered very carefully.

Helen thanked David for his presentation. David said he would work with Joe and the Internet Use Subcommittee.


Helen Swisshelm introduced members of the West Tampa Friends. No members of the public wished to speak.



Long-Range Planning Taskforce: Sandra Cameron said the Long-Range Planning Taskforce met on January 19, 1999. Handouts were reviewed and the John F. Germany Public Libraryreorganization was explained in detail. The group was asked to return on February 9th to share their community SWOT analyses (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats). Sandra invited the Library Board to attend.

West Tampa: Dora Reeder said she was very pleased with the public meeting held on January 27th at Rey Park. She said the citizens made it clear that they want to keep the West Tampa Library. Moving into the Centro Espaņole to partner with the Urban League would be acceptable as a temporary measure only. The citizens understood that it would take time to apply for grants, purchase additional land for parking and make the facility ADA accessible. Out of 56 people, only 2 spoke in favor of something besides raising money to restore the existing building. Joe said he'd had one phone call from an individual who wants a new library like College Hill. He stressed that all options must be explored as the BOCC will ask if this has been done.

Cathy Bartolotti commented that she wished there had been more of the public there; she was distressed that word about the meeting got out so late. Joe said the Communications Dept. didn't get the information out. The Director apologized profusely. Library staff did everything they could to make phone calls and send out flyers. He said the law requires that other public meetings be held.

Jerusha Tyson confirmed that the citizens and West Tampa Friends support the idea of restoring the current facility. She noted that the building is an original Carnegie library. It was constructed in 1912, and is a part of West Tampa's history.

Replacement Northwest Regional Library: Joe commented that three potential sites have been identified-- the Lowell Rd. site and two pieces of property of Bearass Ave. Joe said he hoped there would be good news by the next Library Board meeting. In the meantime, the estimates have come in for cleaning the books at the current Northwest Regional Library. The lowest bid is for $22,000 and would entail removing all the book covers. If the covers are not removed, it will cost in the neighborhood of $40,000. He said other options would be explored before a decision is made.

Southeast County Storefront: Commissioner Storms is getting as much information as possible regarding a possible storefront in the Bloomingdale area. She is only brainstorming at this point but is looking closely at funding options.


Helen Swisshelm said the Budget Committee met twice to discuss the status of the budget process with staff. County Administration is mandating that performance measures be used to justify expenditures. Helen said two things need Board approval:

  1. the expenditure of the extra State Aid that will come to the library in FY99 and,
  2. the way cash collections are handled.

1. Extra State Aid: Helen explained that there will be $300,000 of unanticipated State Aid this year. During the Budget Committee, a motion was made as follows:


Fred Hearns made the motion that the unanticipated, extra $300,000 in State Aid for FY99 be applied toward new carpet and other refurbishments for the John F. Germany Public Libraryso as to assist with the re-engineering project and leverage donations. (No second necessary)

Helen explained that State Aid cannot be used for construction. Joe commented that Holland & Knight is interested in donating money for the children's area of the library; however, they don't want to spend the money unless there is nice carpet, etc.

Helen said she would like to bring the motion to the Library Board for a vote.

      - The motion from the Budget Committee, as stated above, carried unanimously.

2. Cash Collections: Helen asked the Library Board how they would feel about installing cash registers in the library system. Joe said the Clerk's Office wanted to go to electronic receipting in 1992 but they would not approve the cash collection module in DYNIX.

There was a consensus among the Library Board members that cash registers should be pursued. Helen commented that Decision Units (DU's) would be discussed and ranked at the February Library Board meeting.

In concluding her report, Helen commented that the Library has reserves of $600,000. The goal is still $1 million.


Nancy Crippen reported that the Policies & Bylaws Committee met to review the current Bylaws. Changes were suggested. Copies will be included in the February Library Board mailing. She called special attention to Article 5, Section 7 and said the Secretary does not perform any of the functions mentioned. She asked the members to review this section closely.


Joe said Port Tampa's benches are in fabrication. The project is still on schedule. There is no date for installation, however. Framed pieces are being looked into for the Jan Platt Regional Library.


Downtown Parking: Joe Stines passed out information on free parking near the John F. Germany Public Library. Meetings regarding handicapped parking are still being held.

State Aid Increase: Joe explained that the Florida Library Association has mounted a campaign to try to get more State Aid. Currently, libraries receive 11.3 cents per dollar of expenditures. The maximum allowable is .25 cents per dollar. Secretary of State Kathleen Harris supports the idea and will work toward this end without raising taxes. Joe noted that increased State Aid might allow the Library system to open and operate a storefront library in Southeast County. Commissioner Storms is very interested in this possibility. Joe encouraged the Library Board to express support for State Aid to their legislators.






The meeting was adjourned at 5:50pm

Next Library Board Meeting:
         Date: February 25, 1999
         Time: 4pm-6pm
         Location: Port Tampa City Library

                 - Unless notified otherwise

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