The Chapel Hill Town Council rejected a motion on Monday night to purchase software that would censor pornographic internet content on computers at the Chapel Hill Public Library.

The rejection was unanimous by council members, who heard from Brian Sturm, the chair of the Chapel Hill Public Library Board of Trustees, on why the software was under consideration.

“From the board’s perspective, this came down to a decision between increased money for digital inclusion versus a slightly smaller information sphere for existing users,” stated Sturm.

The Chapel Hill Public Library provides ungoverned access to that information sphere, but Susan Brown, the director of the library, explained that this policy conflicts with federal legislation.

“This policy means that we are not eligible for federal funding for technology projects as we are not compliant with the federal law known as CIPA, or the Children’s Internet Protection Act,” noted Brown.

According to Brown, the library is unable to spend federal grant money on technology that connects to the internet unless filters are in place to censor online material that is harmful to minors.

“We have received about $235,000 in federal grants in the past three years,” cited Brown. “Because of our current policy, we can’t use any of those funds to purchase anything that might connect to the internet.”

Brown explained that the library would be eligible for an additional $100,000 in federal grants if the software were approved, but council member George Cianciolo remained noncommittal.

“Potentially selling rights for $100,000 is, I think, not justified in this situation,” ruminated Cianciolo. “If we need technology, and I’m sure we do, then I think we need to find other ways to fund it.”

In a nod to historical research, council member Ed Harrison mused that internet filters may keep adult library patrons from exploring scholarly subjects that are provocative in nature.

“It’s really hard to go through the history of art, and certainly Western civilization, without coming across images that might be caught by a filter,” mentioned Harrison.

Council member Maria Palmer referenced another librarian and his support of unfiltered public internet access for the LGBT community during her remarks on the software.

“He referred kids who are struggling with sexual identity and want to do research to come to Chapel Hill,” stated Palmer.

With a veto in place for the software by council members, the Chapel Hill Public Library will remain one of only three public libraries in the state without CIPA-compliant internet filters.