Home Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library Policies Request For Review of a Web Site

Hillsborough County
Department of Library Services
LS307
Policies and Procedures Manual

Subject: Request For Review of a Web Site

Effective: November 1, 2014

Supercedes: August 26, 2010

Review: 2 Years

  1. Purpose:
    1. The Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library System (the "Library") utilizes web filtering technology in order to comply with Florida Statutes (Ch. 847) regarding visual depictions considered obscene, and the Children’s Internet Protection Act.
    2. This policy defines the procedures to be followed when a Library customer requests that Library staff review a web site for the purpose of blocking a web site if it is not blocked, or unblocking a site it if it is blocked by the web filtering technology utilized on Internet access computers.
  2. Policy:
    1. Any Library customer may request at any time that the Library staff review a web site for the purpose of blocking it, if it is not blocked by the web filtering technology utilized by the Library or unblocking it if it is blocked by the web filtering technology utilized by the Library. A copy of this policy shall be provided to the customer upon request or at the time the customer requests a Request for Review of a Web Site Form.
    2. The review of a web site pursuant to this policy will be made to determine whether visual depictions on the web site, taken as a whole, are "obscene", as that term is defined by law, and will be conducted following the procedures set forth in Section 3 below.
    3. If the customer merely wishes to make comments about the Internet access provided by the Library without requesting a review of a particular web site to determine if it should be blocked or unblocked, the customer may do so on a public comment card available at all public service desks and online.
    4. This procedure and the Request for Review of a Web Site Form apply only to web sites requested to be blocked or unblocked based on review for "obscenity" (categorized by the web filtering technology as "Sex") on Internet access computers. Customer requests to block or unblock sites for any other reason or web filtering category, or on any other type of computer should be placed directly through SiteHelpDesk, the Library ITS Helpdesk System for review.
    5. Public Services professional staff and branch/department supervisors have the primary responsibility to accept customer requests for review of web sites, to inform customers of the review process, to provide customers with information regarding effective use of the Internet and of the Library's various computer configurations and to address customers’ concerns in a polite manner.
    6. Request for Review of a Web Site forms (the "Request Form") are available at all public service desks located in all library branches.
  3. Procedure:
    1. Review Process:
      1. Any library customer who desires to have a web site reviewed shall complete a Request Form and submit it to a Library staff member on duty. A separate Request Form should be submitted for each web site the customer request to be reviewed. (Hereinafter, the web site named in a Request Form shall be referred to as the "web site".)
      2. Upon receipt of a completed Request Form the library staff member receiving the Request Form shall verify the completeness of the form and verify the accuracy of the web site address (URL). Library staff shall determine whether it is blocked by web filtering and under which web filtering category.
      3. The Library staff member shall submit a SiteHelpDesk case to request that the web site be reviewed for consideration to be blocked or unblocked as requested by the customer. A scanned copy of the Request Form and a screen capture of the web filtering block message must be attached to the SiteHelpDesk submission.
      4. Promptly upon receipt of a SiteHelpDesk request from Library staff to unblock a web site pursuant to a customer request for web site review, Library ITS support staff and Library Technology and Collections staff shall review the web site and determine the nature of the web site.
        1. If the web site does not appear to fall within the categories intended to be blocked by the web filtering categories utilized by the Library, the web site shall remain unblocked. Library ITS support staff shall inform Library staff – via SiteHelpDesk - that the web site was blocked in error and that the block has been removed. Library Staff shall then notify the customer immediately that the block has been removed. Library staff shall note the decision to unblock and the time and date of the decision on the Request Form. Library staff shall return a copy of the completed Request Form to the customer. The original, completed Request Form and a copy of it should be retained by the Library.
        2. If Library ITS support staff and/or Library Technology and Collections staff determines that the web site appears to fall within the categories intended to be blocked by the web filtering categories utilized by the Library, the Web site block shall not be removed. Library ITS support staff shall inform Library staff –via SiteHelpDesk - that the web site was blocked correctly and that the block will not be removed. Library staff shall promptly notify the customer that the Library’s preliminary review indicates that the web site is correctly blocked and offer the customer the opportunity to request further review of the web site pursuant to Subsection 3.A.(5) below.
      5. The following is the sequential process whereby a web site is reviewed after an initial determination has been made by Library ITS support staff and Library Technology and Collections staff pursuant to Subsection 3.A.(4)(b) above that a web site has been appropriately blocked and a customer requests further review, or when a library customer has requested that an unblocked web site be blocked.
        1. Two photocopies of the Request Form completed by the Library customer and checked for completeness by the Library staff member shall be made at the time the customer requests that a further review of blocked web site be made or that an unblocked web site be blocked. The original shall be faxed to the Administrative Assistant to the Library Director (with the hard copy sent by separate cover). One copy shall be retained at the branch receiving the Request Form; and one copy shall be given to the customer.
        2. Within one (1) business day of the date on which the customer submits the Request Form to a Library staff person, a panel of three (3) librarians (the "Review Panel") consisting of three (3) members of the Library Management shall review the web site for the purpose of making the determination described in Subsection 3.A.(5)(e) below. In making their determinations, the three members of the Review Panel shall not consult with one another or with other members of the Library staff about the web site, but each shall base his or her determination upon an independent review, based on the criteria set forth below. After each member of the Review Panel has made his or her independent determination concerning the web site, each shall forward that determination to the Library Director electronically and in conformance with the format provided in Attachment 2, which is attached hereto and incorporated by reference. The web site review provided for above shall be made solely for the purpose of determining whether the web site contains obscene materials. The United States Supreme Court has set forth the appropriate review standard when determining whether materials are "obscene". That standard, which is set forth below, shall be the sole standard used by the Review Panel in evaluating the web site.
        3. The determination of whether or not materials are "obscene" is made by reviewing what "reasonable persons" in the community (in this instance, Hillsborough County) would say about the materials, "taken as a whole."The following three questions are to be asked in this analysis.
          1. Applying "community standards,"does the material appeal to the "prurient interest?"("Prurient"is defined as "a shameful or morbid interest in nudity, sex or excretion. An obsessive interest in immoral or lascivious matters.")
          2. Applying "community standards"does the material depict sexual activity in a patently offensive manner?"and
          3. (Does the material possess serious literary, political, artistic, or scientific value? "Community standards"are not applied to determine the answer to this question. If the answer to this question is "yes,"the material is not defined as "obscene,"regardless of the answer to questions (1) and (2) above.
        4. Based on the foregoing criteria, the three members of the Review Panel will each independently make a determination as to whether the web site is "obscene"and forward it to the Director of Library Services or his or her designee (collectively, the "Library Director"). The three determinations will be reviewed solely by the Library Director.
        5. If Review Panel members do not unanimously determine that the web site is "obscene", the web site will be made available for viewing on all library Internet access computers. Notice of that determination shall be sent to the customer within one (1) business day of such determination.
        6. If all three (3) members of the Review Panel unanimously determine that the web site is "obscene"in accordance with the criteria set forth above, then upon receipt of the recommendations of the Review Panel members, the Library Director shall also review the web site for the purpose of making a final determination as provided herein. The Library Director shall independently review the web site within three (3) business days of the date the Request Form is submitted by the customer and shall utilize only the criteria set forth above in making his/her determination.
          1. If the Library Director, based upon his/her review of the web site determines that the web site is not "obscene", a Notice of that determination shall be given to the customer within three (3) business days of the date the customer submitted his or her Request Form, advising the customer that the web site has been reviewed and that the web site has been deemed to be not obscene; and that the web site shall be made available through the Library System’s Internet access.
          2. If, after review of the web site, the Library Director concurs with the Review Panel that the web site is "obscene", Notice of that determination shall be sent to the customer within two (2) business days of the date the customer submitted his or her Request Form, advising the customer that the web site has been reviewed and has been determined to be "obscene"and that the web site shall be blocked from the Library System’s Internet access.
    2. If the customer is dissatisfied with the final determination made by the Review Panel or by the Library Director pursuant to Subsection 3.A.(4) above, the customer may, within seven (7) days of receipt of the Notice of that determination, appeal that decision to the Tampa-Hillsborough Public Library Board (the "Library Board") in accordance with Subsection 3(C) below. If no appeal is filed by the customer within such seven (7) day period, the decision of the Review Panel or the Library Director, as the case may be is final.
    3. Appeal to the Library Board
      1. A customer dissatisfied with the decision rendered by the Review Panel pursuant to Subsection 3.A.(4)(f) above or by the Library Director pursuant to Subsections 3.A.4(f)(i) or (ii) above, may appeal that decision to the Library Board by notifying the Chairman of the Library board in writing (the "Appeal Notice") within seven (7) days of receiving the Notice of Determination of the customer’s desire to appeal the decision of the Review Panel or the Library Director, as the case may be.
      2. Upon receipt of an Appeal Notice, a special meeting (the "Appeals Meeting") of the Library Board shall be scheduled and held within fifteen (15) days of receiving the Appeal Notice. Written Notice shall be provided to the customer of the scheduled Appeals Meeting date.
      3. Prior to the scheduled Appeals Meeting, members of the Library Board shall independently view the web site which is the subject of the customer’s appeal considering the criteria set forth above.
      4. At the Appeals Meeting, the customer or a person acting on behalf of the customer may make a verbal presentation to the Library Board with regard to the web site in question. The customer may also provide supplementary materials to the members of the Library Board prior to or at the scheduled Appeals Meeting
      5. After hearing the presentation of the customer, if any, and after its discussions and deliberations, the Library Board shall vote at the meeting whether the web site is "obscene" utilizing the criteria set forth above. The Chairman of the Library Board shall announce the results of that vote immediately at the Appeals Meeting and shall direct the Library Director to take action with respect to the web site in question consistent with the results of that vote. The vote of a majority of the Library Board members present at the Appeals Meeting shall constitute the Library Board’s decision in the matter. If the Library Board has determined that the web site is not obscene, the web site shall be made available through the Library System’s Internet access. If the Library Board determines that a web site is obscene it shall be blocked from the Library System’s Internet access.
      6. "Notice" to the customer shall mean that a telephone call was made to the customer and a confirming letter was mailed to the customer during the relevant time period referred to above. "A business day" shall mean any day Monday through Friday, excluding Hillsborough County official holidays.
  4. Authority:

    Pursuant to Section 5(1) of Chapter 84-443, Laws of Florida, the Public Library Board has the duty and the responsibility, among others, to serve in a recommending capacity to the Director of Library Services and to the County Administrator in respect to all matters pertaining to the public library.