The Internet Screening Library Act has recently passed the Illinois General Assembly, and I feel alternatively ambivalent and disheartened about it. I am often strongly on the side of information transparency, the freedom of speech, and the freedom to share in the human record. For me it’s also about honesty; if we cannot freely discuss who we are interpersonally, generationally or societally, then we are in shadow, another degree further from understanding ourselves.
The Internet is a mirror of humankind, for better or worse. I feel very much that there are responsible ways to share, with all ages and people alike, in the unprecedented wealth of the world wide web. Will we be able to adequately respect equity of access and privacy under mandated filtering policies? I guess I’m skeptical, but I also understand that filters are improving, that too many websites, if publicly displayed, would create a hostile work environment, and that some communities are asking for filters.
Certainly this electronic historical genealogy of information is more vast and more accessible than ever before, even with filtering? And what does filtering do about the power to aggregate, correlate and communicate with one another?
I am relatively new to graduate school; mostly I’ve been in retail as a bookseller, not a librarian. Never a librarian, actually. School is fantastic so far, and I am enjoying almost everything about it. Being so new, though, I am still working out what I feel about the profession. I would love to hear from anyone else who is more informed or just plain opinionated about filtering.
Before I go, I wanted to share a few links with you that inspired this post. First, there’s Brandi’s Metroblogging Chicago post, The Jolly Library, from two days ago. She provides a link to the Act itself, as well as to a Boing Boing article about the whole affair. I’m also reading some ACLU pages that discuss similar issues. The first one is: ACLU Lawsuit Seeks Access to Lawful Information on Internet for Library Patrons in Eastern Washington (11/16/2006). Also, there is a letter, a Warning to Kern County (CA) Libraries About Using Internet Filtering (1/21/1998).
(If this isn’t interesting to you at all, you can watch Andy Kaufman and friends sing about Old Macdonald’s Farm. Really, it’s worth it.)
Blogging is so strange…I used to be a radio DJ in a small city & it kinda felt like this. Almost.