Internet filters legally stump libraries
Oklahoman.com has a nice story on the legal troubles filtering has
brought to libraries across the U.S.
What can libraries legally do to protect children and
adults against objectionable Web sites without infringing on
the constitutional rights of others?
Before the Internet, librarians were always able to separate
\"age appropriate\" materials, said Mary Haney, director of
the Hennessey Public Library.
\"With the Internet, you don\'t have that luxury,\" she said.
\"It\'s created a really difficult ethical issue for\"Libraries can\'t wait for state or federal laws, because
their customers need and desire Internet access,\" Young
said. \"So local library boards must set policy for
acceptable use of the Internet. The filtering decision is a
local decision. And that\'s good, because local boards know
their communities far better than we do at the state level.\"
Libraries typically use screening software to prevent
Internet access to Web sites depicting pornography,
violence, hate groups and gambling.
The American Library Association opposes filtering.
\"The reason we object to filters is because they don\'t work
very well,\" library association president Sarah Long said.
\"They don\'t block all the bad stuff and they do block good
It is a debate raging nationally. In Minnesota last month,
47 employees of Minneapolis Public Library signed a letter
of protest complaining of being exposed to Internet porn by
Holland, Mich., was the first city to put the issue on a
ballot. Last month voters there defeated a proposal to force
the local library to install filters.
The survey last November found at least 48 Oklahoma
libraries which did not use any filters. Forty-four
libraries did not respon