LAWRENCEVILLE - Despite a groundswell of local controversy, it doesn't appear strong-arm measures like impenetrable filters or limited Internet access are in the Gwinnett County Public Library's future.
Instead, library leaders plan to ask thousands of Gwinnettians for suggestions on moving forward.
Library board members agreed Monday to a large-scale survey that, in theory, will take the pulse of far more library users than those who have come forth thus far with suggestions on Internet issues.
Ruth Hardy, a library user, sparked debate over Internet access after she witnessed a man viewing pornography last year at a local branch, she said. The Gwinnett system has more than 75,000 registered minors who frequent its 14 branches.
Deputy Director Rhonda Boyd said the library plans to reinforce procedures that are already in place. For now, she doesn't anticipate any radical new policies or filters to crack down on library patrons who peruse obscene materials.
Boyd said materials defined as obscene by Georgia Code - such as child pornography - will be strictly prohibited. But, she said, library staff are too busy to frequently patrol computer usage.
When a customer or staff member reports someone viewing questionable material, offenders will face one of the following actions:
n Library staff could capture the browsing history from the suspect's computer and call police if the material is deemed child pornography.
n The patron could be asked to leave.
n If the material is not prohibited but could be harmful to minors, staff will assist patrons to a computer in a more secluded area.
"This is to make sure the legal requirements are clearly understood," Boyd said.
Boyd bucked suggestions that the library should outlaw social networking sites - such as the wildly popular YouTube.com - or restrict Internet access to minors altogether.
And the library's filter, she said, is up to snuff.
The library currently uses a filter in compliance with federal law, the same program used in 57 other library systems in Georgia.
Boyd hopes to "maybe bring in an outside group" to conduct the widespread survey. She hopes to finalize specific questions soon, complete the survey and report results at the board's next meeting.
The public's recommendations will later be implemented into new library policies, she said.
"I think we're moving in the right direction," said board member Lloyd Breck.