Mike Hale Confiscates Avondale Library Computers
Used for Purposes of Gambling
Avondale() - In an early morning raid that left construction workers stunned, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office seized all computers from the partially renovated Avondale Branch of the Birmingham Public Library. Work on the multi-million dollar project, which is already behind schedule, was halted briefly while deputies removed the offending computers from the nearly completed internet cafe.
The Avondale library has been under renovation since last summer and was initially supposed to be housed in a temporary location at the almost completely renovated Avondale Villa. Unfortunately, the wheelchair ramps at the villa were not ADA compliant so the library could not use the space. Fortunately, with the money saved by not having to rent the villa from the city, the library was able to add an internet cafe to the construction plans. That is when the sheriff’s office began keeping tabs on the situation.
Sheriff's deputies initially had trouble locating the Avondale library. They first stopped in North Avondale to ask directions, but no one they spoke to had ever heard of the Avondale library. It did not help that the photo they had printed from a Google search was actually of the original Carnegie library. Once they arrived at the library it was clear that the computers were in fact hooked to the internet which would enable them to be used for unsanctioned online gambling. "These were clearly not educational sweepstakes machines," said Hale. "I don't see any educational benefit these computers could have."
Birmingham Public Library Director Barbara Sirmans was defensive about the use of computers in the library. "We filter everything anyway," she said. "We could filter out the gambling." In fact during testing library workers were only able to access a few mirrored Wikipedia articles and a registration page for the New York Times online. "Someone seems awfully interested in what library patrons might be looking for," said Sirmans. "I don't know if it is the Pentagon or Homeland Security, but they seem to have beat the sheriff to it as far as the efficacy of these computers go." Even without the computers, the library still plans to operate the cafe, selling gourmet coffee and scones to South Avondale and Forest Park residents.
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