August 28, 2003

American Library Association CIPA statement and reactions

The American Library Association recently issued a statement on CIPA (Federal library censorware law). I've greatly enjoyed reading some of the librarian discussion about it, such as the postings of Karen Schneider:

QUESTION: I would like to know what resources we are committing to these needs.I am concerned that we will attempt to resolve these issues with inadequate resources. We need to do more than "gather and share" information about filters, ... We lack mechanisms for responding to wild statements from vendors or press releases about brilliant new technologies that nearly always turn out (as I discovered in my own investigation lo these years ago) to be yet more silicon snake oil. We have allowed the filtering proponents to overwhelm us in one area you would think librarians would excel in -- providing information.


Yes, I am talking about spending money. Somehow, somewhere, we need to break a few eggs to do this right. My guess is this activity will never, ever come from ALA proper, and if we attempted to source it within the bowels of 50 East Huron it would slowly die of colic. However, it would behoove us to ensure it is happening and to help underwrite it if necessary. We have library schools, research institutes, and other agencies that could provide us with what we need if we make our needs clear and help pay for them.

And the comments of Melora Ranney Norman:

In order to study the selection of blocking software along with the selection of print and audio-visual materials, we would probably need to establish a core course called something like censorship 101, since that is the only thing that blocking software is used for.

Until now, selection criteria has been proactive, not reactive. We have claimed that we tried to ascertain what our patrons wanted and provided it to them; if we were judging and suppressing material it was not part of our coursework. Until now, we have not considered it a matter of scholarly inquiry to examine what parts of magazines, encyclopedias, or books we should slice up and burn. Does this profession think it's time to change that?

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in censorware | on August 28, 2003 11:23 PM (Infothought permalink) | Followups
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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