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. Read More →

image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons user niiicedaveA couple of recent events and conversations have me thinking, once again, about the importance of library staff working with teens connecting with stakeholders, administrators, teens, etc. to make sure that teens have the best services possible. Here’s a brief rundown:

  • When Chris Shoemaker and I presented on YALSA’s Badges for Lifelong Learning project at the ALA Midwinter Meeting some participants talked about the struggles they continue to have in their schools and public libraries accessing what now we might call traditional technologies – YouTube, Facebook, Tumblr, etc.
  • I’ve been reading about the “new” digital divide and talking to library staff that work with teens who talk about why they can’t use devices with those they serve because of access issues.
  • I listened to teens at the YALSA Summit on Teens and Libraries talk about their use of digital media (including the aforementioned Tumbler which is filtered out of some libraries) and the importance of relationships with library staff on library use.

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In February, I posted about changes that were made to YALSA’s website that required a login to reach the selected lists and awards. I explained the rationale and indicated that there would be refinements in the process.

There have been refinements, but we haven’t done a very good job of sharing that information with you, so I want to apologize for that lack of timely communication and try to remedy it now.

First of all, I do apologize for the early glitches and for the unfriendliness of ALA’s web interface. It can be very discouraging to click on a link that says “login” and immediately get an “access denied” message. However, if you just click on the ALA login link in the upper right corner of the screen, all will be well. Read More →

Yesterday the Pew Internet in American Life project released a report on wireless Internet use. When I first heard about the report I didn’t think very broadly about what the data might have to say about the impact of access for teens (and for libraries for that matter). But, when I read several news reports that highlighted findings that wireless access, particularly on mobile devices, is serving to lessen the digital divide I started thinking about teens. While not everyone has what some might consider traditional internet access at home – a wired or wireless connection that is used with a laptop or desktop – that doesn’t mean that the Internet isn’t available in the home. People are accessing the Internet with laptops and desktops and they are using game consoles and handheld devices for their access.

If outside of the school teens use handheld devices and gaming consoles to access the Internet, we need to look at how our resources are provided to the age group. We need to make sure to provide access to programs and services in ways that work well for someone using an Internet enabled device. For example: Read More →

I’m at Computers in Libraries this week, and this morning I attended Helene Blowers‘s talk on digital natives. It was awesome. Helene is a great advocate for children and teens using technology. Here are some selected notes from her talk:

Identity—For teens, their online identity is the same as their in-person identity; they explore to see if a space is safe; their social identity is very important to them

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The title of this post is the result of a Twitter conversation that I had recently with librarians working in high schools and colleges. The conversation was about how teens/students do and don’t have access to technology and started with a Twitter post that linked to an article about the University of Virginia’s plans to phase out public computer labs.

I’ve been thinking about access to technology for a long time and I’ve realized more and more that there is a digital divide that isn’t frequently discussed.
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In a startling development in the battle for copyrights and royalties, top Democrats have introduced a bill requiring not only “technology-based deterrents” against peer-to-peer filesharing, but also preemptive subscriptions to fee-based alternatives.

The penalty for non-compliance? All students lose their federal aid.

Could this be a harbinger of what’s to come for libraries? It’s no secret that libraries are hotbeds of music piracy, and it’s not as though Congress hasn’t extorted libraries into draconian policies before. It reminds me of Stephen J. Dubner’s post “If Public Libraries Didn’t Exist, Could You Start One Today?” which squarely drove home how fragile our limited rights are under the pressures of industry lobbyists. What use will the first sale doctrine be, if it comes equipped with a hefty price tag–or else?

Teens deserve access to media and information in all its formats. Libraries, by providing CDs and Internet access, give teens just that. What can we do to fortify ourselves against very real threats to intellectual freedom? There’s always writing your representative, but what leverage do we have against corporate entertainment lobbies? What are we building?