echoes sentinel

township library policy not consistent with u.s. supreme court ruling

28 august 2003


following up on my last article, here is a new internet use policy for the review of our community.

as detailed last time, our current policy is the exact opposite of the recent u.s. supreme court decision called u.s. v. ala.

since the community does not want children to be exposed to pornography, a new internet use policy is required.� i ask everyone to review the proposed changes, and then respond to me directly or in the echoes-sentinel with concerns, suggestions, or approvals.� almost all additions come word for word from the u.s. supreme court decision.� material added or removed from the existing policy is clearly identified.� for brevity, subtitled sections not changed are not included.

new internet use policy for community review

long hill township library provides public access to the internet in keeping with its mission to serve the community's educational, informational, cultural and recreational needs.

consistent with our mission and the professional principles of public librarianship, this internet use policy affirms the safeguarding of first amendment rights, intellectual freedom, equity of access, confidentiality of information about users and their use of all library resources including electronic, and individual responsibility.� the library affirms the following principles and user rights [remove:� as delineated in the american library association's bill of rights in cyberspace]:

•� electronic information, services, and networks provided by libraries should be readily, equally, and equitably accessible to all library users.� [add:� however, internet filtering software will be used.� patrons may request particular web sites be permanently unblocked.� adults may request the temporary disabling of the internet filtering software for their own use.� despite any request by an adult, the library will not unblock pornographic web sites or disable the internet filtering software for the viewing of pornography, just as the library currently excludes pornography from its print collections because pornography is deemed inappropriate for inclusion.� the interest in protecting young library users from material inappropriate for minors is legitimate, even compelling, as everyone agrees.]

•� libraries and librarians should not deny or limit access to information available via electronic resources because of its controversial content or because of personal beliefs or fear of confrontation [add:� so long as internet access is provided for the same reasons other library resources are offered: to facilitate research, learning, and recreational pursuits by furnishing materials of requisite and appropriate quality].

•� information retrieved or utilized electronically should be considered constitutionally protected unless determined otherwise by a court with appropriate jurisdiction.� [add:� the library's use of internet filtering software does not violate our patrons' first amendment rights; the library can permanently unblock certain sites or temporarily disable the filters for adults' own use upon request.� it is to be understood that the library provides its patrons with materials of requisite and appropriate quality, and does not create a public forum for internet publishers to express themselves.]

•� responsibility for, and any restriction of, a child's use of the internet rests solely with his or her parents or legal guardians.� [add:� however, all computers will have internet filtering software that can only be temporarily disabled upon the request of an adult for that adult's own use.� we cannot guarantee that the internet filtering software will be 100% effective due to the nature of the internet and the software itself.]

the library assumes no responsibility for any damages, direct or indirect, arising from its connections to the internet.� the library makes no guarantee, either expressed or implied, with respect to the quality or content of the information available on the internet.� not all the information available via the internet is accurate, current or complete.� users are encouraged to be good information consumers by evaluating the validity of information accessed via the internet.

users are cautioned that ideas, points of view and images can be found on the internet which are controversial, divergent and/or inflammatory.� the provision of access does not mean or imply that the library endorses or sanctions the content or point of view of any of the information or commentary, which may be found on the internet.

the internet offers access to a wealth of information that can be personally, professionally and culturally enriching.� library staffs have attempted to identify on the library's home page specific starting points for searches and links to sources on the internet, which are consistent with the library's mission and roles.� but, because this is a vast and unregulated information network, it also enables access to ideas, information, images and commentary beyond the confines of the library's collection, mission, selection criteria and collection development policies [add:� if an adult requests the disabling of our internet filtering software].� because of this and the fact that access points on the internet can and do change often, rapidly and unpredictably, the library cannot protect individuals from information and images which they might find offensive or disturbing.

since the library computers on which the public can access the internet are located in public areas which must be shared by library users of all ages, backgrounds and sensibilities, individuals are asked to consider this when accessing potentially controversial information and images.� library staff cannot consistently and effectively monitor the public's use of the internet.� yet the library reserves the right to ask individuals to discontinue the display of information and images which cause a disruption.

users are cautioned that, because security in an electronic environment such as the internet cannot be guaranteed, all transactions, files and communication are vulnerable to unauthorized access and use and, therefore, should be considered public.

child safety on the internet

parents or guardians are responsible for the internet information selected and/or accessed by their children [add: , although internet filtering software should significantly reduce inappropriate material.]

children who use the internet unsupervised may be exposed to inappropriate or disturbing information and images [add:� because no filtering software is 100% effective or because an adult working on another computer may have requested the disabling of the filtering software or may have printed inappropriate material].� parents are encouraged to discuss the use of the internet in relation to family values and boundaries with their children and to monitor their children's use of the internet.

to assist parents, the library has available in print form, the pamphlet child safety on the information highway published by the national center for missing and exploited children, which include "guidelines for parents" and "my rules for online safety."� parents are encouraged to review this information with their children.

click to see this internet usage policy before the recommended changes, including the portions not changed above.

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