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Action Research Paper

Action Research Paper

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Published by: Stephen Henry Sonnenberg on Jul 26, 2012
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The Library and Pornography: A Case Study of Guilford and New HanoverCounties, NC Public Libraries and State Universities
LIS 600 Action Research PaperStephen Sonnenberg
Pornography is one of the most controversial issues in America. Many Americans look atpornographic materials as harmful, but many watch them. Where do we draw the line betweeninformation/literature/art and pornography? This paper explores the idea of pornography,censorship, and the libraries of Guilford County, New Hanover County, and the academiclibraries of UNC-Wilmington and UNC-Greensboro.
About a month ago I was sitting in Jackson Library at UNCG, and looking around while Iwas on the phone. I saw a man just standing by a computer with a friend, and they were bothlooking at what was clearly pornography, a man and woman performing sexual acts on eachother. As the days went by I kept seeing the same people in the library. I noticed others doing thesame thing. They were usually very discrete about it, but I was getting annoyed by the dailyoccurrence of it. I decided to tell a librarian one day about it and the librarian asked the man tostop, but he was not asked to leave. I was more interested now knowing that someone couldwatch pornography without real repercussion. I began to think back on my time in undergraduateschool at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, and I remembered seeing materials alsothere that I considered pornographic. One movie UNCW has in its catalog records is a movie Istumbled across one day entitled
Countess Dracula’s Orgy of Blood
. I started to notice back atUNCW that films and books of questionable content could easily be in libraries. If things weredonated or ordered by professors or other librarians, a lot of stuff could have stuff that the publicmight not want in a collection could be there, but also there may be material that is beneficialwhether it is controversial or not. I also thought about the fact that many professors andresearchers could study pornography. Sociologists, Psychologists, Anthropologists, otherscientists, and even people in the humanities may study these materials. If we censored materialsthen would these professors have access to these materials? Should we even in censor anythingin the library? With pornography being a big part of society, whether we like it or not, we needto consider the implications of it even in the setting of a library.I hope this paper explores the nature of the attitudes of the public towards these materialsthat are deemed pornographic and ideas of censoring these materials. I hope to look at UNCW,UNCG, and the public libraries of New Hanover and Guilford Counties to see what materials arein the libraries of the places I have lived and studied. Guilford and New Hanover Counties offeran interesting cross section of North Carolina. They both have urban areas, Greensboro andWilmington, but they also have more rural areas as well. The schools, UNCG and UNCW, alsoare interesting because they are both medium sized public institutions with 18,000 and 12,000students respectively. The paper will also explore issues of censorship or certain materials andthe merit of pornography as a material that should be studied.
Research Questions:
I had a few questions that I will look at specifically when doing this study. A few of them are:
What is pornography?2.
Does the public think that pornography is accessible at the public libraries of NewHanover and Guilford Counties and on the campuses of UNCG and UNCW.3.
Does the public think we should censor pornography?4.
Would censoring information make sense?
Literature Review:
Pornography and the library are not often written about together, but separately, the ideasof censorship, pornography, and especially censoring material in the library are written about alot. Here is some literature I found on the topics of library and pornography use, and censorship:
Deep classification: Pornography, Bibliographic access, and Academic Libraries
” is an article
published by Library Collections, Acquisitions, and Technical Services by Juris Dilevko of The
University of Toronto’s Information Studies department and his writer friend Lisa Gottlieb. This
article is specifically about pornography and the academic library. This article is importantbecause it realizes that pornography is part of mainstream culture, it is constantly changing, and
as the article points out, “…As
pornography becomes part of mainstream culture, society will continueto redefine what is obscene or pornographic.
” This article will be helpful in my paper.
-Blocking Software Block Access to Health Information on the Internet?
” is
an article that is particularly relevant to what we are studying at the corps, censorship. Thisarticle, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, shows that depending onhow strict the settings are, health information, particularly about sexuality can be restricted. Thehighest settings blocked about 90 percent of pornography sites and nearly one quarter of healthsites, while the lower and middle settings blocked out nearly the same amount of pornographyand five percent or lower on health information sites. The results were that questions aboutsexuality could be blocked a lot more than other health questions, and that lower settingsblocked less health info with almost the same amount effectiveness against porn sights.
Selection and Cataloging of Adult Pornography Web Sites for Academic Libraries
” is an article
by the same authors, Dilevko and Gottlieb, and focuses on ways to catalog these websites. Onceagain the duo suggests that academic libraries(not public) should be cataloging adult websitessince they say that they are increasingly apart of mainstream culture.
“Take the Library Porn Challenge” is an article found in the
 Journal of Access Services
and is taking astrong stance against porn in libraries. It is written by an author calling themselves, Annoyed Librarian,but the author certainly raises good points about usage of public funds, and pokes fun of the notion thatlibrarians are supposed to just give access to information no matter what it is. Annoyed Librarian raisesissues about what is information. She argues that just watching people have sex for pleasure cannotconstitute information. The librarian wants people to think rationally about what materials and services
the library collects and offers, and they do not want it to be collecting “Juggs” and “Barely Legal”
magazines. The librarian says that
anything done in a public place cannot be a private act
and that iswhy she wants libraries to consider not turning a blind eye to people looking at pornography at libraries.
“Who Wants to Censor Pornography and Hate Speech?” is an article published in
MassCommunication and Society by Dr. Jennifer Lambe of the University of Delaware. It shows that

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