Paterson NJ Library Board Votes to Allow Banning Patrons From Playing Video Games

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NEW YORK, Feb. 4, 2013–On Friday the National Coalition Against Censorship sent a letter to the Paterson Free Public Library in Paterson, N.J., criticizing a new policy banning the playing of certain video games on library computers. The policy was enacted by the library board after staff members petitioned to have an official rule granting them discretion over computer use (read online).

The Center for Democracy and Technology, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the Association of American Publishers and The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund also signed the letter.

The letter (link) noted that the Supreme Court has ruled that video games are protected speech under the First Amendment. Bertin called the library’s action to remove games because of an individual’s objection to content “constitutionally problematic.”

“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 letter states. It goes on to add that it is not the duty of librarians to babysit patrons and points out that, while the policy was crafted with youths in mind, it apparently applies to patrons of all ages.

The Paterson board vote follows a Massachusetts Department of Transportation decision to remove arcade games featuring plastic, “light gun” interfaces from highway rest stops in response to a visitor’s complaint.

NCAC has long been a defender of video games when they have come under fire from those seeking to draw correlations between media violence and real-life violence.

NCAC Letter to Paterson Free Public Library (via Scribd)