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Seattle library blasted for allowing porn, Wenatchee library sued for blocking it

Earlier this week, a controversy erupted over a man being allowed to watch pornography in a Seattle Public Library. Now there's another library system feeling the heat from the opposite direction. (AP Photo/file)

Earlier this week, a controversy erupted over a man being allowed to watch pornography in a Seattle Public Library. Now, another library system is feeling the heat from the opposite direction.

Seattle libraries are in the cross-hairs of some parents, angry that their kids could inadvertently be exposed to hard-core porn while in a public space, because adult patrons are allowed to watch it right out in the open.

And while some would like to see stronger filters at Seattle's libraries, a library system on the other side of the Cascades is getting blasted for not allowing access to pornography.

The American Civil Liberties Union [ACLU] is suing the North Central Regional Library District, centered in Wenatchee, for making online porn off-limits.

The district says it bans pornography from its computers in order to ensure a safe work environment.

"We believe that the presence of pornography in public places hurts our ability to accomplish our mission," says Dan Howard, with the North Central Regional Library system.

Howard says that mission is to promote reading and lifelong learning.

But the ACLU'S Doug Honig complains that the porn filter blocks many other appropriate websites as well.

"That has prevented our plaintiffs who are an artist, a college student, a gun rights magazine and a guy that had a MySpace page, from getting access to perfectly reasonable material," says Honig.

So broad is the reach of Wenatchee's porn filter that even Google images pages are off-limits.

The state Supreme Court ruled in favor of the library district two years ago. The case is now pending in federal court.

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