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Ventura County Focus | West County / CAMARILLO

Suit Prompts Tabling of Library Funds Plea

March 26, 1998|DAWN HOBBS

A 1st Amendment lawsuit recently filed against the county's Library Services Agency has prompted Camarillo leaders to shelve a request by the city library seeking a $150,000 donation for computers and books.

The City Council's library committee decided against making a recommendation to the full council regarding the Friends of the Camarillo Library's funding request until the suit is settled.

About half the money would be used to buy 10 computers, provide Internet access and hire a staff person to train the public and maintain the equipment.

The Library Services Agency requires patrons to sign a form stating that they will not access pornographic material. The Libertarian Party of Ventura County filed a suit March 3 claiming that the practice violated the 1st Amendment.

"The suit has us concerned about funding computers that could allow people to access material we don't necessarily approve of," said Councilman Bill Liebmann, who serves on the library committee.

In additional, Liebmann said he has qualms about providing any more funding for the city's library, which is operated by the county.

"My concern, and it is every time they ask for money, is that I don't think it's appropriate to spend General Fund revenues on services that are not mandated for us, but are the responsibility of the Library Services Agency," he said.

However, Liebmann added, city staff has been directed to determine what funds could be made available through a federal community services grant.

In 1996, a ballot measure to create a $25-per-parcel tax for five years to benefit libraries failed to receive the two-thirds vote needed for passage.

The requested $150,000 donation would have been used as follows: $25,000 for computers, about $48,000 for a technical staff person and $75,000 for books.

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