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Managing access to the internet in public libraries: findings from the MAIPLE project Dr. Louise Cooke.

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Presentation on theme: "Managing access to the internet in public libraries: findings from the MAIPLE project Dr. Louise Cooke."— Presentation transcript:

1 Managing access to the internet in public libraries: findings from the MAIPLE project Dr. Louise Cooke

2 Overview  UK public libraries and filtering: some context  Our professional ethics and freedom of access to information  The MAIPLE project  Conclusions.

3 Context  People’s Network  “Moral panic”  Lack of knowledge or debate  Inaccuracy of filtering software.

4 Professional ethics  IFLA Code of Ethics, Art. 1, para. 2: Librarians and other information workers reject the denial and restriction of access to information and ideas most particularly through censorship whether by states, governments, or religious or civil society institutions. (IFLA, 2012)  CILIP Ethical Principles #3: Commitment to the defence, and the advancement, of access to information, ideas and works of the imagination. (CILIP, 2013)  CILIP Code of Professional Practice, S2, D: The defence, and the advancement, of access to information, ideas and works of the imagination. (CILIP, 2012)

5 The MAIPLE project  Desk research  Quantitative survey  Case studies.

6 Research strategy

7 Survey findings “We have had issues around people trying to access certain sites and some of the sites that they’ve accessed have been quite inappropriate especially when you’re sitting in a public building and you might be sat quite close to someone else. We’ve had complaints from the public because somebody’s maybe accessed pornography or, even worse, necrophilia sites, things like that or you know, we’ve had issues around terrorist sites as well” (CS 3).

8 Survey findings  Proof of identity: 98.8% of members need a borrower number, 87.5% need a password or PIN; 50.0% of guests need some proof of identity, 47.1% need a password or PIN  76 use some form of booking system: 40 use Netloan, 23 use iCAM  79 PLS had an AUP/T&Cs  Visual monitoring (83.5%)  Location of PCs (70.9%)  Collecting Internet use data (44.3%)  Training for library Internet users (34.2%)  Monitoring software (30.4%).

9 Survey findings  All 80 responding UK PLS provide filtered access to the Internet on their networked PCs  Of the 67 services providing Wi-Fi, 56 provide filtered Wi- Fi access  Top 5 categories blocked for ALL users are sexual (85.7%), hacking (83.1%), violence and intolerance/hate (both 80.5%) and extremist (79.2%)  Top 5 categories blocked ‘only for children’ are personals/dating (53.8%), social networking (51.3%), gambling (46.2%), chat (33.3%), weapons and bad language (both 28.2%).

10 Survey findings  Complaints about filtering in the last 12 months:  65.8%  30.4%  Over-blocking (88.5%)  Technical limitations of access (53.8%)  Use of filtering software (19.2%)

11 Survey findings

12 Case Study findings  Filtering inevitable, a pragmatic response, some regret: “We did think long and hard about it because in many ways filtering is anathema to librarians” (CS 1 Staff). “I don’t have any ethical issues with filtering. I think it’s something we do need to do” (CS 4 Staff).  Filtering not always transparent: “I think it maybe says it on the home… you know, when you log onto the Internet… I think it says” (CS3 User 3). “It is? So there are things that they just don’t let you on?” (CS 2 User).

13 Case Study findings  Variance in types of content blocked: “Sometimes it will block a random site where I don’t think there’s any need for it to be blocked” (CS 5 User).  File sharing and copyright not huge concerns: “With file sharing, peer to peer, all that sort of stuff, I’d say we’re fairly tight” (CS 4 Staff).  Offensive images within social media a growing problem: “You can see girls posing with their G-strings or sexy clothes, I’d say, almost every day” (CS 5 Staff).

14 Case Study findings  Unblocking processes are there, not always clear, not always consistent: “To be honest, I have to say that it’s quite ad-hoc. It’s generally brought up through me and I then take it through to the IT team who then would unblock it for me” (CS 3 Staff). “Well it comes up Administrator and they [IT] are the only ones that can [unblock it]… we can’t… and they said ‘That’s it. If that comes up then you can’t get on that site’. So you explain it to the customer and he said ‘Well, it’s a universal site’ and we said ‘Yes but there’s nothing we can do about it’” (CS 5 Staff).

15 To summarise (1)  Filtering of internet content in UK public libraries is ‘standard practice’  But breaches of AUP still common  As are complaints about filtering  Processes for unblocking are very random and poorly communicated  Users are reluctant to request unblocking.

16 To summarise (2)  Librarians generally accept use of filtering even if they have reservations  They also find it relatively effective  Library users also generally supportive  But awareness is relatively low.

17 Conclusions and further thoughts  Professional ethical codes support notion that libraries should not use filtering as a default strategy  This conflicts with MAIPLE findings  Focus now is on ways to minimise negative impact of filtering, e.g. proportionality, transparency, communication, easy and effective unblocking  Promotion of professional debate and awareness.

18 Recommendations (1)  Any content filtering in place for material accessed by adults should be set at the lowest possible level for all categories of material  Content accessed by minors may be subject to more stringent restrictions but should still not impose levels of censorship that inhibit genuine enquiry  There should be a simple, transparent and effective mechanism for having sites unblocked, that demonstrates respect towards the individual user

19 Recommendations (2)  We need to be more transparent and open about the use of filtering  There is a need for more professional debate on the topic in the light of our professional ethical commitments to freedom of access to information  There is a need for a more unified and consistent approach to managing internet access based on nationally agreed guidelines.

20 Further information MAIPLE Team: Louise Cooke, Rachel Spacey, Claire Creaser, Adrienne Muir. iple/about.html @MAIPLEproject email:

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