I wasn’t aware people play video games like Call of Duty in public libraries, but evidently they do in the US state of New Jersey. Or did. The library board there specifically banned first-person shooters from being played on library computers last month.
The National Coalition Against Censorship, the same outfit that upbraided Massachusetts for yanking light-gun games from state-managed rest stops, has sounded off on the matter. “It is no more acceptable for a library to ban access to certain kinds of video games than it would be to selectively remove other lawful materials,” the NCAC writes, reminding again that “Video games, like other forms of media and entertainment, do not appeal to every individual.
“The role of libraries is not to police the use of a perfectly legal form of casual entertainment,” the letter says.
Librarians at the Paterson Free Public Library had an informal practice of discouraging youths from playing video games, nagging them to do homework or read something else instead. But they petitioned the library board last month to adopt a policy of outright prohibiting the games, according to this story — which specifies them as “direct-shooter video games.”
A ban was needed, said one library board member, because the librarians “wanted something more than their own common sense”, backing up their feelings about the game.
“We felt we should do everything we can to prevent our kids from learning these behaviours,” library board member Irene Sterling said, according to PatersonPress.com.
But the NCAC says it is not a librarian’s job to be a babysitter. “They have no way to know that their views correspond with those of parents or guardians. Moreover, the policy apparently applies to patrons of all ages, including adults and minors who are accompanied by an adult.”
The letter is cosigned by leaders of four other advocacy groups, including the Comic Book Legal defence Fund, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression.