by donald kuhn - © library board of trustees 2003 - handout at library board of trustee open public meeting
the board's current understanding of the cipa is that libraries receiving federal funds are required to have filters in place on all computers with access to the internet with the provision that adult library users may request that the filter on a specific machine be disabled so as to allow a full search on the internet. further, it is our understanding that the fcc will be issuing rules and guidelines related to the act. these are not likely to be issued until the summer of 2004.
the board is sensitive to and supportive of parental concerns for the protection of children from inappropriate material that might be viewed on the internet. it has a policy in place that emphasizes the role of parents as responsible for monitoring their children's internet use. it urges parents to discuss the use of the internet in relation to family values and boundaries. to assist parents, the library provides a pamphlet, "child safety on the information highway." further, the policy indicates that individuals may not use library computers for illegal purposes. it requests that patrons be sensitive to others when accessing potentially controversial information and images. the library also reserves the right to ask individuals to discontinue the display of information and images that can be disruptive.
at this time, the long hill township does not receive federal funds and so is not legally bound by the provisions of cipa. it is awaiting, however, guidance from the american library association, the state library, and main with respect to policies or practices that are advisable for the protection of children while supporting unrestricted and uncensored access to materials it has available, whether in its collection or electronically.
there is considerable controversy about filtering systems that are available. the firms that provide them do not currently publish the criteria on which their filtering is based. were the library to install a filter, it is, in effect, allowing censorship of materials without having an understanding of the basis for the exclusions. the internet is used by patrons primarily for research activity. when filters are in place, the patron cannot be sure that all the information available on a specific topic is available.
it has been noted that the library had an incident of inappropriate use of its computers. that activity was specifically covered by the policy denying illegal use and was appropriately prosecuted. the perpetrator was an adult and it was a patron who reported the activity to the staff. under the provisions of cipa, material objectionable to a majority or patrons could be viewed providing the user requested that the filter be disabled.
the board will stay current with the developments in this area and will amend its policy when it is convinced that it is in the best interests of the community to do so.