Banned Website Awareness Day

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It’s our sister division AASL’s Banned Website Awareness Day, reminding us that books aren’t the only information sources whose access can be challenged.

For the past ten years, by law, libraries must be CIPA-compliant. The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) stipulates that public and school libraries receiving federal e-rate funding must implement technology that prohibits Internet access to visual images of child pornography, obscenity, and material that is “harmful to minors.” As a recent YALSA blog post pointed out, this does not translate into blocking social media.

Over the past two years, I’ve worked in two different systems with radically different approaches to filtering, so I’ve seen first-hand how those policies affect students. Continue reading

How CIPA Affects the Future of Libraries and Teens

275690-teen-computer At the end of July the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) and the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) teamed up to host a conversation on Revisiting the Children’s Internet Protection Act: 10 Years Later. This symposium, funded by Google, brought together thirty five experts from within and outside of the library community to discuss the long-term impact of implementing CIPA. The associated Twitter conversation that can be viewed with the hashtag: #CIPA_ALA2013.

Both Part I‘ and’ Part II‘ are archived on YouTube, and they’re definitely relevant for both public and school librarians in working with youth today.

For example:

• The efficacy/success rates for most filters (shown repeatedly in study after study) is 80% and less than 50% for image/video filters.

• Both filters in public libraries and school libraries block far beyond what CIPA requires (i.e. certain topics such as GLBTQ is one example of a frequent “overblock”)

• Getting around filters can be extraordinarily easy for patrons (misspelling words for example).

• CIPA doesn’t require filtering of social media, yet sites such as YouTube, FaceBook, and Google docs are often blocked.

So, how CIPA is contributing towards a digitally literate society? First, look at what exactly CIPA is… Continue reading

28 Days of Teens & Tech #28: Help Me YALSA! I’m Blocked

Welcome to the last day of Teens & Tech. I hope you enjoyed it. Sorry for the delay in getting this last post up. I was having, of all things, technology issues. Today’s topic was suggested by the Tech Integrator at my school, Allison Lundquist.

Dear YALSA:

Thank you for all of the great suggestions. Here’s my problem. I’m totally blocked. I want to share awesome YouTube videos with my teachers, but YouTube is blocked. I want to create a Facebook page for my library, but Facebook is banned, too. Skype-An-Author? I’d love to, but Skype is verboten. How do I get around these filtering issues?

All Blocked Up

Dear ABU:

I feel your pain, I really do. Nothing is worse than seeing that SonicWall come up to stop you in your tracks.

Really this is an issue of intellectual freedom, the same as a book challenge. If we feel that a site has merit, we need to fight for it. The ALA office of Intellectual Freedom has a very useful page about filters and filtering.

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Firewall Firestorm

I came back from the February break schools get up here in New England to a surprise: they had updated the firewall. I discovered this when I sat down to do my morning routine on the computer: log in to GMail, open up my GoogleCalendar and GoogleDocs, and log in to Twitter. But thanks to our newly robust firewall, Twitter was blocked.
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Urban Myths

Here is how it started. A librarian discovered that emails sent via Google Docs, asking teachers and students to collaborate on projects, were being filtered by the school. When the librarian asked the school technician about this she was told that use of Google Docs, and like services, was not allowed in the school because of a recent ruling by a state judicial body. She was further informed that the ruling stated that schools needed to archive locally all materials created by students and teachers, so using something like Google Docs – which is not local storage – would go against that ruling.

The librarian tweeted this discovery which started a discussion about whether this ruling could prohibit schools from using web-based collaboration tools. Emails and Twitter messages went back and forth and librarians working for the state’s law library system were asked if they knew anything about the ruling and its impact on schools.

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Teens Drop CDs in Favor of Digital Downloads

A new NPD group study shows that 48% of teens did not buy a CD in 2007, down further from the 38% that was reported in 2006. This is the same time iTunes is announced as being the #2 music retailer, only behind Wal-Mart (though sales projections show that Wal-Mart is set to be overtaken later this year). Meanwhile, some music service providers raised hackles at the Digital Music Forum by claiming that the only way to serve people’s digital music needs is to operate illegally.

With more and more light being cast on new generations of teens and their propensity toward media convenience and digital downloads, the RIAA has stepped up its legislative agenda, lobbying against net neutrality and has sponsored net filtering mandates as part of state funding for universities. Could libraries be facing similar legislation down the road, which would disallow libraries from letting users download digital content? If the RIAA continues to run amok, we could very well be seeing it introduced soon! Then maybe the next Teen Tech Week could include a contest for teens to name the legislation restricting their access to digital media at their library. My vote is for ODPA (the Online Download Protection Act).

Positive Uses of Social Networking One Year Later #3

A year ago YALSA launched the 30 days of positive uses of social networking project. Every day throughout October, three YALSA bloggers posted ideas and information about using social networking in the school and public library. The postings were in response to the U.S. Congress Deleting Online Predators Act and the realization that librarians working with teens needed support and information on using social networking with teens.

Now, one year later, the same YALSA bloggers are each writing an update post during the month of October about the world of social networking, teens, and libraries. You can see Linda’s post here and Kelly’s post here. Now it’s my turn.

As a school librarian, I’ve become sharply aware of the limitations that are placed on the use of social networking tools in our schools. In more schools than not, social networking tools are banned outright. It’s much easier for administrators to say no to all tools rather than try to distinguish among the huge variety that are now available, including those that are designed for educational use. It’s an interesting coincidence that one of my favorite school librarian bloggers, Doug Johnson (The Blue Skunk), posted about some of these same issues during October, even as we are engaged in this review. In his October 3rd “rant” (appropriately labeled with his “rant skunk”), Doug discussed the restrictions in terms of intellectual freedom. Blanket blocking of entire classes of information and tools is an unnecessary and illegitimate restriction of students’ intellectual freedom. On October 8th, he obtained Nancy Willard’s permission to reprint her LM_NET post on Internet fear-mongering. Nancy’s observation is that cyberbullying is causing kids far more harm than is sexual predation. Yet police, district attorneys, the FBI, and their audience – school administrators – seem to be fixated on social networking being a direct link to certain sexual predation. Doug’s October 30th post contrasts the different approaches taken by two videos on Internet safety – the U.S. Attorney’s Project Safe Childhood video and the What You Need to Know video from iKeepSafe. The first video focuses on the Internet and child predators while the second is about what parents can do to protect their children and, more importantly, how parents can teach their children to protect themselves.

Yet great social networking things are happening in schools too. I’ve just returned from the American Association of School Librarians National Conference and the program was peppered with sessions on social networking tools and Web 2.0 topics. Clearly, the times are a-changing. My feeling is that as these tools become part-and-parcel of the fabric of society, the barriers in schools will begin to crumble. There’s simply too much good to be had.

HB 1727- Mandatory Internet Filters on all Public and School Libraries

This bill passed the Illinois House of Representatives on May 2. It is now headed toward the Senate. It will affect those under 21 since they will need to request that the filter be removed even for research or other legitimate purpose. For Action Alert and talking points from the Illinois Library Association, read here. For the bill’s full text, see here. For more information, see the Illinois Library Association site.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki