I read it first on Librarian in Black but liked the coverage of the Mercury News. The San Jose Public Library decided to not add filters to the public library computers after a year and a half of debate. One of the points made by the article is that startup costs to add filters would be about $90,000 with annual maintenance costs of $5,000. You can read the final policy statement here (pdf). In includes the fact that, out of almost 1.4 million computer login sessions at SJ Public Libraries (excluding the King Library), library staff received two complaints of lewd behavior and only one complaint to staff about pornography viewing. The King Library, the main library, had a similar number of login sessions and 14 complaints about pornography viewing.
“Government imposed censorship is very different from censorship imposed by a parent.”
“Internet content filtering does in fact have flaws… It overblocks.”
Thanks to Sarah for the heads up and kudos for the ACLU using your research. I find that numbers, not emotional appeals are what are going to really help make the case against governmentally-mandated filters. Here’s hoping.
From The Librarian’s Rant comes this report from AL Online of a public library in Florida blocking MySpace because their Internet use policy prohibits using the computers for “chat-room access, e-mail, and recreational uses.” The actual policy goes so far as to prohibit “entertainment” use as well, so they block YouTube. Longer article here, please make sure to note the MySpace = predators assertion.
I spoke to a librarian at a rural library today. She works ten hours a week — well she’s paid for ten and works many more. The library has one computer, and that computer has dial-up access. Her board is considering getting her a second computer, so that she can do her work while the library is open and patrons are using the other one. She has also been talking to them about possibly getting broadband access. She and I discussed creating a web page for the library, maybe thinking about wireless in the longer-term future. Money is tight, as you can imagine. When I mentioned thinking about E-rate assistance for connectivity, she wasn’t enthusiastic. I’m not sure if this is because of CIPA or other reasons, but we’re looking into alternatives.
Vermont is not one of the states that has its own filtering laws in addition to the laws laid down by CIPA. What I did not know was that twenty-one states have filtering laws that apply to schools and/or libraries. Some of these just require libraries to have an Internet use policy concerning public/patron use of the Internet, but many go much farther than that. The Utah code, for example:
Prohibits a public library from receiving state funds unless the library implements and enforces measures to filter Internet access to certain types of images; allows a public library to block materials that are not specified in this bill; and allows a public library to disable a filter under certain circumstances. Requires local school boards to adopt and enforce a policy to restrict access to Internet or online sites that contain obscene material.
The National Council on State Legislatures has a page outlining all these state laws with links to the actual state legislation: Children and the Internet: Laws Relating to Filtering, Blocking and Usage Policies in Schools and Libraries