A new Facebook friend just asked me a question, and I thought I’d share it with y’all – in hopes of garnering him some more input, or “ammunition” if you will…
Here’s the deal:
“Maybe you can answer a question that our City attorney needs clarified?
She seems to think that if we [a public library] have a blog we can’t restrict commenting
(at all) because it’s a public forum (the City recently even got rid of
the Mayor’s bulletin board because of this). From my own Internet
research it seems that this is the case from a legal standpoint. How
are other libraries dealing with this? If this is the case it seems
that it’s only a matter of time before some library gets sued over this.”
you know of any libraries getting sued for removing comments, or where
to find any pro blog justification for libraries from a legal
standpoint? Blogging is obviously a good thing for a library to do, but
the City is deathly afraid of lawsuits… Even the chance of a lawsuit
and they won’t go out on a limb to disrupt the homeostasis. My
municipality is very conservative in this regard.”
As an aside – good the for the city attorney for recognizing blog comments as a form of public forum (because it is).
Now, obviously I’m no lawyer, but I told my fine facebook friend that as long as the library has a policy in place that covers how the library handles comments, they should be covered (certainly anyone CAN sue… but probably not successfully?). And that policy is probably already there in some form of patron behavior clause.
And – I’m pretty certain there are some libraries that really DON”T remove comments – they show the bad AND the good, and just filter a short list of “naughty” words. So that might meet the city attorney’s requirement, too.
So… what do you think? How does your library handle website/blog/myspace/facebook/youtube/etc comments? Do you moderate? Do you block words? Do you remove the nasty comments altogether? And do you have a policy or guideline in place for commenting?