CA Librarians Remain Committed to Free Access

An editorial in the Santa Cruz Sentinel ponders the whys and wherefors of patrons free access to information following the arrest of a porn viewer at the Cabrillo College Library.

The short piece concludes thusly, "Anne Turner, director of the city-county library system, summed it up best: "Free access of information is more valuable than the chance that somebody would see porn".

Freedom of information isn't always pretty, and it's also not without its risks. But in a free society, there will always be risk and imperfection."

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librarian as filter

from the editorial:

And, as the arrest and conviction of the person at Cabrillo shows, law enforcement is fully capable of enforcing the law, whether the computers in question are public or private. And it's not as though Cabrillo staffers don't act: They've tossed two people out of the library when they were spotted misusing the computers, whether for video games, chats, file sharing or pornography.

Works for me.

So it really is not unrestricted access

I think things are working very well at that library. However I think we as librarians pay homage to some universal ideal that access to everything is required and anything less is anathema.

We can see from this case that that is simply not true, unfettered access to child pornography is not a goal of any library. So rather than arguing for free access or unrestricted access or unfiltered access we should be arguing for free access to acceptable content. Child porn is not acceptable to any librarian that I know.

Some libraries choose to filter, some libraries choose to have librarians keep close tabs on patrons, some libraries keep their computers very open using sunlight as a social disinfectant. Whatever works is good.

I think we can all agree that free access to appropriate content (to of course be defined locally) is a noble goal. I think too we can agree that this library has done an exemplary job in providing just that.

Re:So it really is not unrestricted access

However I think we as librarians pay homage to some universal ideal that access to everything is required and anything less is anathema.

Personally, I think that notion is a simple-minded, right-wing bugbear that is brought up by people who cannot understand the diffence between protected speech and unprotected speech. Thinking, rational people know that there is no such thing as "access to everything is required". Thinking, rational people are able to gestalt the concept of proscribably obscene, for instance, while foaming at the brain reactionaries scream that Where's Waldo and Michaelangelo's David are obscene and must be removed or shrouded to "protect the children" because of a mammilae shown in profile, or simple nudity.

These same reactionaries misrepresent the position of the thinking rational people in part because they are unable to understand that the world is not black v: white.

Re:So it really is not unrestricted access

Then I guess they should be clear about it. I have an 85% rule. I feel that 85% of the people that I meet on any given day are too stupid to make it through the day without help.

Look at the number of people who respond to 419 scams, look at the number of people duped by phishing, look at people who can't fill out a simple form at any business. I worked with the public for years as a cop, a paramedic, a nurse, and yes a librarian. 85% is a kind estimate. Hell look at the person in front of you in the grocery who seems surprised that they have to pay this time and wait until they are told the total before digging out their wallet or chequebook. Look at the people who stare at the menu in McDonalds or Tim Hortons as if they had never been there before. They stammer and stutter when asked for their order.

Saying that they want free access to these people probably doesn't mean unfiltered, or child porn, they problably think free as in don't have to pay for it.

I was an adjunct instructor at a local community college. I said to a group of students that "Butterflies are free, that means you don't have to pay for them." No one cracked a smile, no one said a word, no one had any idea as was being foolish.

If you want people to understand what you say, you have to say what you mean.

Oh and the Where's Waldo or David crusaders, they are the foundation of that 85% group.

To gestalt I've never seen it used as a verb before that I can recall. I'm using that tomorrow at work, several times.

Re:So it really is not unrestricted access

Wow. I can't say that I agree with you, although your response certainly gave me a case of the giggles. Your grammatical skills are... quite astonishing. I would LOVE to hear someone say the word "problably" out loud.

Re:So it really is not unrestricted access

To gestalt I've never seen it used as a verb before that I can recall.

A bad habit of mine; I'm either going to have to break that habit or start taking credit for the phrase as my contribution to verbing that weirds language.

Re:So it really is not unrestricted access

Geez, I made a typographical error. Goodbye cruel world, I can't take this pain any longer.

I'm glad you were amused. Sometimes amusing someone is the best thing I do all day. Sometimes it is the only thing.

Re:So it really is not unrestricted access

I only got it in coversation once. I did use it in a email too.

The person I said it to uses the phrase 'net new' to mean new, so no attention was paid to gestalt as a verb.

I'm sure I'll work it in a few times of Friday. I really do like that linquistic legerdemain.

I wonder if I can use it as a gerund?

If you want me I'll be gestalting. :)
Gestalting is fun!

this belongs on Craigslist rants & raves

This must be the 50th time that the unfettered access vs. filtering debate has come up on this board. Why don't all the zealots take it to the rants & raves section on Craigslist where all the hatred and bile can spew out freely, and leave LISNews for those of us who actually want to learn something?

Re:this belongs on Craigslist rants & raves

Why don't you post under your name or STFU?

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