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SISLT LIS Trends Recap September 19, 2008

Posted by cynhudson in Library Stuff, Student Stuff.

For those of you who missed it, the SISLT LIS trends addressed a pretty important topic this month, legislative issues that affect libraries.  Specifically we looked at how CIPA (Children’s Internet Protection Act) affected library processes and what it ultimately means for the librarian.

Just as background, CIPA was a bill introduced by Senator John McCain (1999) that attempted to limit children’s exposure to pornography and explicit material through the use of internet filters, or a similar technology.  Though the use of filters is not mandatory for any libraries, the bill successfully tied monies, known as E-rate monies or discounts, with its implementation.  Therefore, any public or school institution that would like to receive these discounts would need to install some type of internet filter that would effectively limit the ability to view explicit sites.

After reading the article, CIPA:  Decisions, Implementations, and Impacts by Jaeger, et. al. many individuals at the Trends discussion were concerned by the fact that though CIPA allows adults to request the filter to be turned off, there is no law stating when, or even if, libraries must comply.  This act also states that requests to turn off filters must be justified as bona-fide research or for other lawful purposes.  This essentially means that if a request is made for a filter to be turned off, a librarian has the right to ask for the purpose and ultimately determine its research validity.

Though everyone at the Trends discussion agreed that protecting children from explicit materials was immensely important, many wondered at the effectiveness of these filters.  We all have heard of instances in which filters have blocked completely acceptable websites for no apparent reason.  What effect this has upon the availability of information for students and adults who regularly use internet-filtered computers has therefore become a topic of much debate.


Children’s Internet Protection Act. accessible at: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d106:s.00097:

Jaeger, P.T., McClure, C.R., Bertot, J.C., & Langa, L. L. (2005). CIPA: Decisions, implementation, and impacts. Public Libraries, 44(2): 105-109.



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