Westfield Mom Calls for Filters on All Children's Computers at Library

Two of the four computers in the Westfield Memorial Library's children's section with internet access were equipped with filters this spring. Credits: Jill D'Ambrosio

WESTFIELD, NJ – Colby Sheppard, a Westfield mom who said her 11 year-old son stumbled upon pornography on a computer in the children's section of the Westfield Memorial Library in January, plans to create an online petition this fall and drum up local support to install filters on all computers with internet access in the library’s children’s section.

Sheppard has lobbied the library board of trustees and the town council on the matter. In April, the library installed filters on two of the four computers in the children’s section, but Sheppard wants to have all children’s computers equipped with filters.

She hoped the board would revisit the issue at its meeting on Aug. 20, but the meeting was canceled, she said. The next board meeting is scheduled for Sept. 24 at 7:30 p.m. in the library’s meeting room.

Sign Up for E-News

Sheppard says she has met with resistance from library officials on the question of filters.

“They’ve got their heels really dug into this one,” she said.

Her son now uses the filtered computers when at the library. She agrees with the need for parent oversight while children use computers but believes inappropriate material can be found during internet searches nonetheless.

“Honestly, when most [parents] are there, they’re not going to stand over their kid,” Sheppard said, adding that some patrons may be busy with younger children during their visits. “There is still room for accidents and error when it comes to typing on the internet.”

Enough Is Enough, a non-partisan organization dedicated to internet safety for kids, recommends “a layered approach of monitoring, filtering, time limiting, safe search settings among other tools to protect children," according to its website, www.enough.org, "but remember that these tools are no substitute for parental and adult supervision and guidance online."

Jennifer Schulze, head of adult services for the library, said that the librarians have not heard any other complaints about the children’s section computers since the issue came to light earlier this year. She explained the library’s position last week while director Philip Israel was away on vacation.

The idea that parents are responsible for the materials their children borrow from the library, such as videos, extends to computer use, she said.

“It’s sort of the same philosophy, that we allow parents to be the monitors, not us,” said Schulze.

Additionally, library officials believe that filters may block out internet sites that are legitimate for research. The American Library Association  made similar claims in a press release.

Schools and libraries nationwide are routinely filtering internet content far more than what the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) requires, according to “Fencing Out Knowledge: Impacts of the Children’s Internet Protection Act 10 Years Later,” a report released by the American Library Association (ALA). CIPA requires public libraries and K-12 schools to employ internet filtering software to receive certain federal funding, according to the release.

“Over-filtering blocks access to legitimate educational resources, and consequently reduces access to information and learning opportunities for students,” said Barbara Stripling, president of ALA when the release was written.

Dan Kleinman, who co-founded SafeLibraries, a New Jersey watchdog group, said that the Westfield library “is acting outside the law by allowing in porn and child porn despite the law.”

“Library law creates libraries for educational and recreational purposes for the use and benefit of the citizens. In other words, there are actual limits on what libraries can do,” Kleinman said. “They cannot do anything outside the law that created them. Porn is neither for the use nor benefit of the citizens, actually it harms the citizens, so it falls outside the law that created libraries. Municipal governments have the right and duty to stop libraries from acting outside the law, and they can do so without violating a library's veil of autonomy.”

Town leaders appear to disagree with Kleinman’s statement.

At the town council meeting on April 28, at which Sheppard appealed to the council members to install filters on the all four computers, Mayor Andy Skibitsky responded that by state law the town council was not allowed to intervene in library board of trustees matters. Town Attorney Russell Finestein then said that the town council had no jurisdiction in this matter and Sheppards’s concerns should continue to be brought to the library board of trustees.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Westfield Firefighters Give Assist at Overnight House Fire in Garwood

July 12, 2018

GARWOOD, NJ - The Westfield and Clark fire departments were on hand to assist at a house fire early Thursday morning in Garwood.  The fire was in the upper levels of a vacant home on Willow Avenue, according to officials.

Clark Fire Chief Frank Cerasa confirmed that five Clark firefighters took one engine to the site. One witness reported seeing emergency responders from ...

Change The Early Morning Timing on Central Ave. Traffic Light

July 12, 2018

In connection with asking Union County to review the signal timing, PLEASE also consider the timing early in the morning. I frequently am heading south on Central to Metropark Station to catch the 6 a.m. train. Whenever I am at the intersection prior to 5:30 a.m., the timing is such that a green light (going south) lasts for less than the amount of time it takes to get one car through the ...

Upcoming Events


Tue, July 17, 6:00 PM

Westfield Presbyterian Church, Westfield

Youth Mental Health First Aid

Education Health & Wellness


Wed, July 18

Westfield Area YMCA, Westfield

Westfield Area YMCA Wellness Wednesdays

Health & Wellness


Thu, July 19, 7:30 PM

Mindowaskin Park, Westfield

Free Swing Band Concert in Mindowaskin Park

Arts & Entertainment

Westfield Police Blotter: Car Scratchings, Car Burglaries Continue & More

July 11, 2018

July 2, 2018 11:37 p.m.

Chad Doriral, age 32, of Brooklyn, NY was arrested for possession of CDS pursuant to a motor vehicle stop. Subject was processed and released on summons.

July 3, 2018 11:08 p.m.

Divine Kennedy, age 19, of Newark, NJ was arrested on the strength of an outstanding warrant for his arrest from Westfield Municipal Court in the amount of $1,000.00. Further investigation ...

Tuesday Night Kids Event at Emma's

July 16, 2018

Parents, don't forget to take your kid to Emma's Brick Oven Tuesday for our kids night out event and see their favorite Paw Patrol character, "Chase". 

Big Changes in Store for New Jersey’s Employers and Employees

Big changes are in store for New Jersey’s workplaces, with dramatic legislation aimed at improving conditions for New Jersey’s workers. These changes include the enactment of New Jersey’s Equal Pay Act, a new law to help the unemployed, and passage of New Jersey’s Paid Sick Leave Act. Most likely one or all these laws will impact you or someone in your family.

New ...

Understand NJ's Shared Responsibility Act

Last year, the President signed legislation that repealed the “penalty tax” for not having health insurance for tax years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2019.


On May 31, Governor Murphy signed into law the “New Jersey Health Insurance Market Preservation Act,” which establishes a “shared responsibility tax” for state residents without ...

5 Simple Ways to Save Water this Summer

According to the L.A. Times, the average American uses an estimated 98 gallons of water EACH day.  

Here are five simple ways you can save water, to help you conserve water this summer and take some pressure off of your drains.

1. Unless you are using it, turn the faucet off. How many of us still leave the water running while we shave or brush our teeth?According to ...

26 Homes Sold July 8-15 in Westfield and Surrounding Towns

There were 26 homes sold between July 8 and July 15 in Westfield, Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Cranford and Mountainside`

TOWN          ADDRESS    STYLE            RMS   BRS BTH   GAR   Sale Price

Cranford  115  Bryant Ave ...

Dog Found in Garwood

UPDATE: Reunited with owner.

ORIGINAL POST: Dog found on Pine Avenue in Garwood. He was given food and water. Garwood police now has him. Sweet and friendly. Contact the Garwood Police Department.

It's Not What You Are Eating, It's What's Eating You


Emotional eating can be described as episodes of binge-eating, grazing and/or eating when not hungry to soothe feelings. Emotional eaters have a pattern of eating to cope with stress, emotional conflicts and problems of daily life.

Emotional eating is eating for reasons other than hunger. Instead of physical symptoms initiating the eating, ...

What Is Your Bottom Line?

This week's Parshah (Torah reading) is the Parshah of Pinchas the Zealot: the courageous young priest who stood up against idolatry and immorality and, in the end, saved Israel from a devastating plague.

While Pinchas' radical response made him a hero worthy of having a Torah section named after him, we wouldn't necessarily suggest to our children ...

'Servant of Two Masters' exudes foolish fun

‘Servant of Two Masters’ makes for foolish, frivolous fun

By Liz Keill

MADISON, NJ –Carlo Goldoni’s “The Servant of Two Masters,” in a rousing translation and adaptation by Bonnie J. Monte, has the outdoor audience at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey laughing and clapping all the way through.

The yearly production, held at the amphitheatre on the ...

ELL Summer Experience at Westfield Public Schools

Westfield students representing six different languages recently enjoyed a weeklong summer camp focused on providing meaningful enrichment activities for students to continue their English language acquisition while having fun.

The ELL (English Language Learners) Summer Experience ran from July 9-13 at Wilson School, welcoming students in grades 1-4 whose native languages are Russian, ...

Westfield Area YMCA: Take Swim Lessions This Summer

The Westfield Area YMCA is providing a free one-week guest pass to non-members which will also enable access to purchase a week of swim lessons at full member rates during the summer.  The one-week guest pass includes use of the Y’s fitness facilities, land and water group exercise classes and open gym/swim.

“Our goal is to have people of all ages and skill levels grow to ...

Woman Struck by Car in Bridgewater Mall Parking Lot Dies

July 12, 2018

Bridgewater, NJ - A Bedminster woman has died from her injuries after she was struck by a car in the parking lot of the Bridgewater Commons Mall Monday.

Marion Kelley, 62, was struck by a vehicle while walking in lot four near the Macy's merchandise pick up area at around 3:20 p.m. Monday.

The 2017 Mazda was driven by Chinmayi Parikh, 33, of Piscataway.

The crash is still being ...


Eric Lieberman, 47, of Scotch Plains, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly Tuesday, May 22, 2018 ...
Read more