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BELLTONES: Filtering Woes Redux

By Mary Ann Bell - Posted May 1, 2006
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Another article about filtering! Aren't there enough out there already? Truth is, I did not go looking for this topic. It reached out and grabbed me while I was looking for information about something else. While researching general computer use in schools and libraries, I noticed the topic of filtering to be a continuing issue. Listserv postings and comments by my MLS students repeatedly bemoan the impression that filters are getting more and more restrictive.

So I was prompted to post queries about Internet access at my three favorite listservs: LM_NET (for librarians), EDTECH (for technology specialists), and TLC (Texas Library Connection). I got a flood of responses, replete with the posters' recent horror stories about their filters. Out of close to 70 responders, four said their filters were about the same, two said they felt like their filters were more lenient, and the rest said they believed filters were indeed clamping down tighter. This was not, of course, a scientific survey. People who are unhappy are more inclined to vent in response to this type of question. Still, I find it striking that so many people do find their filters increasingly problematic. Here are some of the stories I got:

* One librarian reported, "A third grade teacher came in because a student needed information on trigger fish but it was blocked. I guess the trigger was trigger."
* A school principal could not get to a Web site about trees. The reason for blocking was "profanity." In that same school, information about Sojourner Truth was blocked for "gambling."
* At another school, the New York State Recommended Reading List for High School Students is blocked.
* A librarian reported, "Last week we could not get to Library of Congress. Then we could not get to any film or movie sites, really difficult for students researching entertainment during WWII."

Troubling Trends

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This article is available in its entirety in a variety of formats — Preview, Full Text, Text+Graphics, and Page Image PDF — on a pay-per-view basis, courtesy of ITI's InfoCentral. CLICK HERE.


 
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