In my most recent issues of both Library Journal (June 1st 2010) and School Library Journal (June 2010), there is discussion of the recent decision of the state of Washington’s Supreme Court to allow libraries “to filter the Internet without being required to disable the filter when an adult requests access to websites with constitutionally protected materials”. I especially appreciated Brian Kenney’s editorial on this matter in School Library Journal when he compares Internet filtering to outdated collection development policies where librarians select only the “best material” for their users.
My opinion on filtering has changed quite drastically since I began library school two years ago. In fact, I remember being surprised during a library school trip in the first year of my MLIS to the new Greenboro branch of the Ottawa Public Library. The librarian conducting our guided visit proudly talked about their no-filtering policy and their computer privacy screens. At the time, I thought “What, they don’t filter and they use privacy screens? Are they asking for trouble?” I have since developed the opinion that access to information entails access to all information without discrimination. It is ironic then that I have experienced filtering at my new library since arriving only a few weeks ago. I’m proud to say that our public access computers have no filtering; however, there are sites that I, as library director, am not authorized to access on my staff work computer since it technically belongs to the provincial government. Now we enter into a weird grey area because I do completely understand and respect the difficulties of managing the technical support for an entire network of provincial computers. From what I’ve been told viruses and bandwidth problems for such a large network cause major headaches for everyone involved especially the tech support team. The public access computers are set up to be wiped every time someone logs out. This eliminates whatever software/viruses might have found their way onto the computer when it was being used. However, the settings for the staff computers are different. I smile weakly at the irony of the public having better internet access than the library personnel.
I am fairly certain that I will be so insanely busy in my new director position at the library that I won’t be tempted to browse the internet for fun while at my job. However, yesterday I was on our Intranet looking for sites with free clip art/images for a poster when I discovered that a link to Flickr was blocked. It seemed like false advertising to post a link on the Intranet only to block its access. I have discussed the issue with our regional tech guy and he completely agrees with me that there should not be blocked links on the Intranet and he is working to fix that problem. He has informed the “powers that be” at the provincial level and either the site will be unblocked or the link will be removed. Flickr is a site on which you could possibly find questionable photos but there are also a lot of great images with creative commons licences that could be useful for all sorts of library use. It’s like the Internet; you have to take the chance of there being some bad in order to access all the great stuff that is available.
Instead of adding filters, I think libraries and government bodies should be more focused on educating users about internet security. Teaching users how to identify and avoid the dangers of the internet from viruses to internet fraud to damaged reputations (posting indecent photos) is a valuable investment of an organization’s resources. If organizations like libraries were to provide training sessions on these issues then they might save a lot of the time they currently spend on surveying and modifying their filters. Not to mention, they would be empowering people by providing them with more knowledge instead of disabling them by censoring their access to information. What do you think? What do you do in your library?
As many of you know, in April, I participated in the Librarians Without Borders’ McGill Student Chapter’s trip to Guatemala. Our group worked very hard to develop a manual of recommendations for a new library currently being built at Miguel Angel Asturias Academy in Xela (Guatemala’s second largest city). We also offered a training session to the school’s director Jorge Chojolan and to the teachers who will be taking on the roles of the librarian and the literacy program coordinator. The leaders behind this project are ambitious that this library will not only serve the K-12 students at the Academy but that it will also serve as a community library to the people of Xela allowing them with the opportunity to improve their education. Tomorrow (Wednesday, June 16th 2010), the website GlobalGiving will be matching all money donated towards the Asturias Library project. People, this is an extremely worthy cause! After visiting the school myself and having met the hardworking and inspiring people who are dedicated to improving education in Guatemala, I am whole-heartedly convinced that this library will make a difference in the lives of the students and the community of Xela. I encourage everyone to visit the GlobalGiving Website as well as the website of Asturias Academy and donate generously. Please contact me with any questions you may have about the work of the Librarians Without Borders group when we went down in April.
This Norwegian video on plagiarism has already been posted on a few other library blogs: LibrariansMatter and Re: Generations but I’m posting it again so that as many people as possible can watch it. I think that this video produced by the University of Bergen is so great (except for perhaps the over-the-top musical number near the end). The Slavic countries seem to be light ages ahead of North America in so many areas and I can’t get over the professional quality of this video. At the same time it demonstrates the universality of the problem of student plagiarism which is sad. As a student how would you react to this video? It was posted to You Tube only a few days ago
Officially I will be starting my position as library director at the Tracadie-Sheila Public Library this coming Monday. Ironically I have spent much more time and energy stressing about my move from Montreal to Tracadie than I have about starting my job. Since arriving on the east coast this week, I’ve been especially concerned about making good first impressions wherever I go because I never know who I will meet. I’ve been warned that the gossip train travels fast in this small town and so if one person doesn’t like me then the whole town is likely to hear about it within a few days.
Unfortunately, as those who know me are aware, when I try too hard to be friendly I tend to become rather awkward by talking too much. I guess it is my way of overcompensating for being nervous; some people clam up but I talk a lot. I want so badly to follow Stephen Abram’s advice that we have two eyes and two ears but only one mouth for a reason. This is such perfect advice for me but I find it hard to follow. For example, today when I attempted to check out my new library incognito, I ran into the assistant regional director who had interviewed me for the position. She introduced me to all the staff and I found myself rambling on and on. It was almost like an out of body experience. I could see myself dominating the conversation but I felt helpless to shut myself up. Luckily on Monday, I will have my orientation so I will be required to listen attentively and take notes all day.
Despite having to face my own awkwardness, I am really having a wonderful time discovering my new community. I have been passionate about Acadian culture since I read Pélagie-la-Charette (in english Pélagie: the Return to Acadie) by Antonine Maillet during my first semester of French Literature at Université Laval. I have been so excited about moving to an Acadian area and so far I have not been disappointed! I was even invited to a fresh lobster meal yesterday and was taught the difference between a male lobster and a female lobster. What an experience!
I promise to keep you all posted once I actually start my job!