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Time's Up!

The Denver Public Library plans to pull the plug on Internet hogs.

Anya Breitenbach, the library's public-relations manager, admits that Earnest's particular scenario--that of an address-less patron--is one that the library has yet to fully consider with the time-out plan. She says the library will institute a testing phase to work out such bugs before anything is finalized. "A lot of these questions don't come up until you start working with customers," she says.

Other libraries are eagerly awaiting the answers DPL provides, says Jamie LaRue, president-elect of the Colorado Library Association. "They're a good test case," he says. "Denver is in the spot that it's on the frontier."

LaRue says the trick for libraries is to develop the broadest policies to start with and then step in to fix what doesn't work with regard to computer access. "Most libraries try, instead of restricting usage, to restrict time," he says.

The time-out solution, says LaRue, is reasonable, considering the limited resources of most libraries. "It's a new twist on an old problem," he says.

But for patrons like Earnest, the clock is still ticking. He may want to e-mail library officials to register his objections--as long as he doesn't tell them where he's writing from.

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