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November 19, 2007

Comments

Mary,

I think the reason patrons aren't asking to be unblocked is because many of the filters don't let you know that you've been blocked.

One of my pet peaves is that they sometimes just display an error (404 - site not found) so the user thinks they entered the URL wrong. Some do let you know that the site has been blocked and may even let you know the category that triggered the block. But not all filters are so responsible.

Also, I think libraries prefer to use filters that operate in more of a stealth mode so as to create fewer issues....

When searching, users might not ever know they are being blocked so won't think to ask. You may be being blocked as well. I know I am. I use Google frequently and my default setting it to restrict results to English and to use moderate filtering (which is Google's default).

I never know what I'm missing. Most people don't.

Lori

Wyatt Ditzler:

You say "asking for them to be unblocked for the purposes of conducting 'research' as stated in CIPA."

Under CIPA, you do not have to supply a reason for the unblock request. At least I believe that's the state of the law. So you don't have so say you are conducting "research." Count the libraries that ask you to provide a reason.

But that brings up a possible angle of investigation. After having been unblocked merely upon request as allowed by CIPA, go to an obvious (and legal) porn site in plain view of the patrons and the library staff to see what kind of reaction you get. (I suggest not allowing children to see it though.) CIPA allows you to get filters disabled just for the asking, but it does not allow people to use that unblocked computer for porn (of the type CIPA proscribes, such as images). So what percentage of libraries stop such usage AFTER a CIPA unblocking request may be relevant.

Collect the URLs for the relevant library policies.

Also, CIPA requires librarians or library staff to unblock, not patrons clicking the yes/no filter button. See if unblocks are only done by library staff or if they are done by individuals at point of use or via preprogrammed cards.

Also, see if libraries having CIPA filters have any computers that are unfiltered, and provide a count of them.

May I suggest including publicly accessible state library computers as well as public library computers?

MLIS schools are notoriously one sided. Hopefully you can maintain balance and provide bias-free data without jeopardizing your grade.

What you are doing sounds interesting.

Mary,

I am in the intial stages of determining the effects that CIPA has on adult patron information access in Oklahoma public libraries. This research is for my MLIS thesis and will involve testing Internet filters in public libraries and then, if websites are blocked, asking for them to be unblocked for the purposes of conducting "research" as stated in CIPA. I also intend to look for or ask about unblocking websites in the public libraries to gain insight to whether the procedures are in place at the libraries to unblock sites.

If this is data that you might find useful please let me know. It might be possible to incorporate a component of your research in with my research with little hassle and benefit for both of our projects.

I suggest you check with Nancy Willard (Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use). Her email address is nwillard@csriu.org. Perhaps she can help you.

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