UNR and library divert email

A local resident and former county library employee sent an email message to the members of the library board of trustees only to discover that it was first delivered to the library director.

The director, Arnie Maurins, then read the message and forwarded it to the trustees only after adding a message of his own.

The original sender, Rex Gunderson, used a feature on the Washoe County Library website that reads, “To send an e-mail to the Library Board of Trustees, click here.”

In his message, Gunderson raised the issue of whether the library should be closed on Easter, a Sunday, given the fact that it is normally open on Sundays. Interrupting the normal schedule for a religious observance, he said, raised First Amendment issues.

“These closures are saying to every county resident who is not practicing Christian, every Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and non-believer, that we are not really a part of this community; that we are not really welcome here,” Gunderson wrote to the trustees.

He received a response from trustee James Umbach, and Umbach’s message included the message the trustees had received from Maurins, which said Gunderson “is apparently the individual referenced as a ‘concerned . . . library employee’ ” who recently brought the issue to the attention of the Freedom from Religion Foundation.

Gunderson objected to a practice of messages to the trustees going through the director, who then puts his spin on them before forwarding them.

“I suppose this may be common practice in organizations where the executive sort of controls the board?” Gunderson asked. “I don’t know. It just seems kind of odd with a large potential for mischief.”

Easter is not a legal holiday in Nevada.

At the University of Nevada, Reno, meanwhile, the campus tech people are preventing delivery of some outgoing messages.

It came to our attention when we were informed that a message to the RN&R had been stopped and that we had 14 days to approve it for delivery.

Institutional checking on incoming messages is routine, but blocking delivery of outgoing messages is unusual, particularly from a publicly owned site. Campus information technology director John Vilseck said in an email message, “We do filter mail in both directions to prevent a compromised machine from sending out spam. Our mail filters must have found something in the message it determined was spam. We are looking into the situation and will make any needed adjustments to prevent this in the future.”

The message to the RN&R was a thank-you note from a campus professor.

RN&R checked with a non-campus computer consultant, who said, “I know that kind of technical capability exists, to check outgoing mail. I’ve never heard of anyone using it, though.”