mind-rotting television @ your library

That is how the kids use the internet at our library -- as mind-rotting television. There is little interactivity, unless you count them smacking each other in front of the screen. Some kids are good and use it for homework, which is great (although not at the exclusion of books) and some use it for email, which is fine. But we have an inordinant amount of kids that come in and look at shoes. If I could get a filter that blocks footlocker.com and Nike.com, that would rock.

The librarians have tried to figure out the shoe phenomenon... These kids get surly over shoes. I had a kid tell me that the iMac was "broken" because it didn't have Flash on it, and he couldn't see the movie at www.reallyexpensiveshoes.com.

The internet, at its best, is a tool. It gets us information. It allows us to voice our concerns almost instantly all over the world. That's great. At its worst, though, it's a television set with a 123-key Windows XP compatible PS/2 remote.

I am concerned about the new iteration of SurfControl we are putting up. Honestly, aside from occasional glances at the screen when troubleshooting a site for someone, I don't want to think about what patrons are viewing too much. But I guess I have to. SurfControl's website, anyway, seems to be geared toward businesses. I don't give a flying crud how long my patrons spend on what site (unless it's a library related site, but that's what our web hoster is for). All I care about is that they're viewing nothing that could get us in trouble, or is explicitly against our rules (chat, games). Aye, there's the rub... how I wish those boys were looking at InfoTrac, not Google Images of sneakers. But there's not much I can do aside from try to steer them in the right direction.

I like what the assistant director was saying yesterday (what I could hear through my insane coughing fit). The library is for books, it is for information. Computers are part of that, yes. But the internet is no longer for that, at least, not for some people. It's for advertisements that are better than scratch and sniff because there are buttons to click and stimuli to be had.

Granted, looking through some of our issues of Glamour, that's about the same thing.

I know some network libraries are thinking of really limiting things on at least some computers. I just don't know how I feel about that. I want people to be able to have fun at the library. Going to your favorite band's website is fun. Going to a message board is fun. I just don't want you doing anything illegal, detrimental to the health of the other patrons or my preciousssss machines, or being there all day. Dammit, I want to have my cake and eat it too! Somehow, I think limiting the internet to all sites ending in .edu, .org, or our online databases is just a drag.

I wonder how things went today at the library. I stayed home, as I took some cold medicine that made me feel like I drank something fizzy and alcoholic, without the umbrella. My cold is starting to feel better, although I still have mega-lymph nodes.

Some skunk appears to be using my email addresses (both of them) to send spammage. So I killed one, and I'm ready to kill the other if need be.


There is a way to block those sites: modify your hosts file.

Here's a search to get you started. It's easy to do, and you can give any domain you want a perfectly invalid IP address of or anything else you want.

Let me know if you want a little more info. I use it on my Mac and it's apparently just as easy on Windows.

I could do that. If the problem persists, I will. I just feel like, on the other hand, they're not technically doing anything really against the rules of law, humanity, and library. The real problem for me is the occassions where they all gather round to look at the pretty shoes, and then it gets loud and crowded in reference, making it hard to do, well, reference.

I guess I'd rather, at this point, reset the screen of the computer so they can't use anything when they're engaging in unwanted gathering than say I don't really approve what you're using your allotted hour for. I need to learn to pick my battles, I guess. Nothing would make me happier though, than blocking CartoonNetwork.com. As much as I love Yu Yu Hakusho and Rurouni Kenshin, I so hate those damned Flash games.

I will check it out. Thanks. CartoonNetwork, here I come. Bwhahahahahaa!

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