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Lamar Library and Heritage Defenders to Work to ‘Clean Up’ Internet Homework Helplines

Belinda Groner, representing a local group known as Heritage Defenders, asked the Lamar City Council on Monday, April 23rd, to take action to force homework helpline websites to filter pornographic materials and related advertisements to school age children in the community.  Groner provided documentation from various groups that have followed the money to a company called EBSCO.  She said the Colorado Department of Education is using state tax dollars to fund Colorado’s EBSCO wholesaler, the Colorado Library Consortium.  Much of the material is proprietary, she said, which has been designed to bypass school and library filters.  The materials come from various periodicals, some nationally known, that are featured with embedded advertisements.  “We’ve asked them to make these changes, but when they do, EBSCO just takes them from one site and moves them to another,” she told the council.  Groner explained that 80% of these sources are from the periodicals or magazines which are found on the homework helpline sites. 

Mayor Roger Stagner said the city is aware of the situation, as well as the Lamar Library and the Library Advisory Board and both Sue Lathrop, Lamar Librarian and the city’s IT technologist, Thomas Sanchez, have taken steps to filter out this material, but efforts won’t be 100% effective.  Sanchez explained, “Our filters have stopped a lot of it.”  Councilman, Kirk Crespin, who is also an IT Technologist for Community State Bank, added that some of these porn sites are moving targets, going from one site to another, “They make their money through clicks.  Every time someone goes to them, it means dollars for the site.”

Groner suggested that Heritage Defenders work with the Library Advisory Board to make use of the list of sites that has already been established by Adams County in the state and aid the Library in creating a master plan, a directive, she said, that is in the city’s statutes.  Lathrop said she already has a Policy Plan for the library and routinely checks these sites and contacts EBSCO to make changes when she encounters objectionable materials.  The city will also seek out any ‘clean’ sites for homework help and determine if they would be suitable for school age children.  One of the problems is that the source materials can still be accessed at home, so the websites themselves have to be forced to eliminate those articles and the best way, Groner explained is by eliminating their funding.

A second meeting between the Heritage Defenders and the Library Advisory Board was recommended so an update on their most recent efforts can be explored.  Groner suggested that members from her group can be seated on the library’s board to assist in regulating materials offered to the community.

By Russ Baldwin

 

Filed Under: City of LamarConsumer IssuesEducationFeaturedPublic SafetySchoolYouth

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