Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Filtering Computers

Internet filtering is a topic that is addressed in many libraries around the country. Libraries have implemented internet policies to explain rules and regulations for library patrons. Libraries must offer free access to all resources regardless of its format and materials. So when access is denied or internet sites are restricted for minors to use, does it violate their right? The American library Association states that minors should have free and open access to any information. “Library policies and procedures that effectively deny minor’s equal and equitable access to all library resources and services available to other users violate the Library Bill of Rights. The American Library Association opposes all attempts to restrict access to library services, materials, and facilities based on the age of library users.” With that said is it legal or morally correct for librarians to allow minors to search via the internet porn on the library public computers? How should libraries maintain policies and procedures who want to restrict minors from being able to access this information? The ALA states, “lack of access to information can be harmful to minors”, but is allowing minors to view inappropriate sites is acceptable? The ALA also states, “librarians and library governing bodies should maintain that only parents and guardian have the right and the responsibility to determine their children’s and only their children’s access to library resource…Parents who do not want their children to have access to specific library services, materials, or facilities should advise tier children”. This matter is a very controversial issue and many libraries have begun to install filtering sites to restrict certain sites for minors.
I read an article from the Library Journal, about a debate over internet filters at the San Jose Public Library in California. After an 18 month debate, the decision was made by the City Council to install filters on the public computers, given the current fiscal crisis, the Council would rather spend money on elsewhere, but a decision was reached to install the filters on the children’s computers for protection. In my opinion, this is good choice, because parents are not always there to protect their children from certain situations. Also, some children may not have that parental guidance, therefore will not have the support they need to understand certain issues.

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