Chapter Report: Children, the Internet, and Filtering

Article excerpt

A friend who works for a public-relations firm recently reported that a corporate sponsor was concerned about supporting a state library association by carrying ads for a summer reading program on their products. The sponsor thought the words "library association" might make people think it was supporting the American Library Association, as portrayed negatively on Dr. Laura's radio show (AL, June/July 1999, p. 56).

My friend wanted to know if anything similar had happened at ALA. My own experience has been with funders who seem to think libraries and the things they stand for are worth supporting. That may be at least in part because of who they are--publishers, media companies, and information-industry people who tend to articulate many of the same values as part of their own professional code.

It's pretty easy to tell where you stand when you're all standing in the same place. But if you're not in one spot, simply standing your ground won't get you closer together. Libraries and library associations do not need the support of those who oppose the things that libraries value; however, they do need to be able to talk in terms that other industries, professions, or groups can understand.

Community interests

The Internet and Our Children: A Community Partnership is a February 2000 publication of the Illinois Library Association (ILA) that was developed to help ILA members communicate library concerns to legislators, the media, local inter-est, groups, parents, and others. As ILA President Carolyn Anthony wrote, "A crucial point is that librarians can not address this problem alone, but seek to work in partnership with parents, community officials, and the media to enable children to safely explore the amazing variety of educational and entertaining information on the Internet" (ILA Reporter, February, p. 8).

The publication is attractive and presents information on the Internet, filtering, and the ILA position clearly. A summary on the back cover presents the hallmarks of its Internet policy position: local policy development, language about the limited usefulness of filters, assertion of the library's role in information navigation, denial of the government's right to limit access, and the individual's need--as well as right--to know.

"Librarians have been accused of being ideologues who are uncaring about the potential dangers of the Internet for children. This publication was developed as the result of many hours of discussion by several units of ILA.[ldots] It explores the complexity of Internet filtering and access issues and discusses ways in which librarians are seeking workable solutions," Anthony wrote.

Copies of the publication are available from the Illinois Library Association, 33 W. Grand Ave., Suite 301, Chicago, IL 60610; 312-644-1896; fax, 312-644-1899; e-mail, ila@ila.org. Single copies are free; multiple copies are available in packets of 25 for $12.00 plus shipping.

Chapter(s) and verse(s)

Chapters in Alaska, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas. Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wyoming have filed statements on Internet filtering with ALA's Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF), according to OIF Program Coordinator Don Wood. …

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