(For immediate release --- Thursday, January 29, 1998)

Public libraries should facilitate, rather than censor, access to Internet

EFC president to speak at Burlington Public Library

In local communities across Canada, public libraries are finding themselves caught in the middle of a tug-of-war over access to the Internet. On the one hand, a few vocal parents want librarians to intervene and block access to what they consider "inappropriate content" that is available on the Internet. On the other hand, free speech advocates are concerned about censorship.

David Jones, a computer science professor at McMaster University, will address the board of directors at the Burlington Public Library. (The meeting, which is open to the public, is scheduled for 5:30pm on Thursday, January 29, 1998, at the Burlington Central Library at 2331 New Street, near Guelph line.)

"I would like to persuade the board", says Jones, "that it would be impractical, unnecessary, and improper to filter Internet content to remove material that people might find controversial or offensive."

"The Dundas Public Library", says Jones, referring to a nearby community, "dealt with a similar complaint last summer, and they found they could address parental concerns without resorting to censorship."

"Public libraries play an important role in society", explains Jones, "in helping to achieve the goal of 'universal access' and to avoid a separation between information haves and have-nots. People who get their Internet access through the library shouldn't be treated as second-class citizens."

"If we dumb-down the Net to a level that is appropriate for five-year-olds", says Jones, "we will no longer have an 'Information Superhigway'; instead, we'll have a digital Sesame street. That's not the solution."

"The benefits of public libraries facilitating community access to the Internet, for children and adults alike, are tremendous", says Jones. "Just ask any parent whose child has been using the Internet about the improvement in their thinking, research, and communication skills."

Dr. Jones is president of Electronic Frontier Canada (EFC) which is this country's leading organization devoted to the protecting freedom of expression in cyberspace.


EFC Contact Information:

Electronic Frontier Canada

Dr. David Jones, djones@efc.ca
phone: (905) 525-9140 ext. 24689, fax: (905) 546-9995
Dr. Jeffrey Shallit, shallit@efc.ca
phone: (519) 888-4804, fax: (519) 885-1208
Dr. Richard Rosenberg, rosen@efc.ca
phone: (604) 822-4142, fax: (604) 822-5485

Electronic Frontier Canada's, online archives:
URL: http://www.efc.ca

Related Web Sites:

Burlington Public Library

Related Documents:

D.Jones - Speaking Notes
This is a brief summary of the specific points presented to the board of directors, May 21, 1998. (David Jones)

Staff Report on Internet Access in the Burlingon Public Library
This report was prepared following the Board Meeting on February 19th following a Board motion directing staff to review Internet Use Guidelines and possible registration forms.

Library Board Minutes
These are the minutes of the meeting held February 19, 1998.

H.Neary - Speaking Notes
This is a summary of the presentation made by Hilary Bates Neary, on behalf of the Ontario Library Association, February 19, 1998. the ...

Staff Report on Internet Access in the Burlingon Public Library
This report was prepared following the Board Meeting on January 29th, and was presented at the subsequent meeting, held February 19th. (Sonia Lewis)

D.Jones - Speaking Notes
This is a brief summary of the specific points presented to the board of directors, January 29, 1998. (David Jones)

Internet at the Library
an example email message sent to the library in support of open access, January 29, 1998. (Elma Miller)

A.MacIntosh - Speaking Notes
This is a summary of the points presented to the board of directors by a police officer who is concerned about children being exposed to inappropriate Internet content, January 29, 1998. (Alan MacIntosh)

BPL: Internet Access Policy and Internet Use Guidelines
The Burlington Public Library's Internet policy was last updated in May, 1996.

Burlington By-Law #169-1993 Regulating Adult Magazines
This By-Law is being interpreted by some city councillors as applying to Internet access in the public library. Read the wording and see for yourself whether it only applies to magazines in retail establishments.

CLA: Position Statement on Intellectual Freedom
Here is the Canadian Library Association's long-standing statement on freedom to read and the responsibilities of librarians, November 18, 1985.

EFC: Public Networks and Censorship
invited talk at Ontario Library Association, January 15, 1995. (Jeffrey Shallit)

V-chip rating system extended to books
This is a spoof news release that was issued by Electronic Frontier Canada as an April Fool's Joke in 1996. The idea that the V-chip (for blocking controversial material on television) might be extended and used in libraries to prevent access to controversial books sent a shockwave through the Canadian librarian community. This was rated the 'best April Fool's Joke on the Net in 1996' and was even mentioned in Maclean's magazine!

Newspaper Articles:

Library compromises child's rights
Burlington News, 13jun98, (Leigh Morrison)

Internet exposure is a worry
Burlington News, 13jun98, (Arie J. Hordyk, Burlington)

Library clamps down on Net porn
Burlington News, 23may98, (Carmela Fragomeni)

New Noard lobbied for Net limits
Burlington News, 12may98, (Carmela Fragomeni)

Library upgrades Internet to high speed
Burlington News, 12may98

Filtering lawsuit going forward
c|net News, 08apr98, (Courtney Macavinta)

Homes with kids more likely to have a computer
Hamilton Spectator, March 21, 1998, (David Akin)

There are solutions to cleaning up the information highway
Hamilton Spectator, March 7, 1998. (Patricia Upton)

Pornography has no place on the internet
Hamilton Spectator, February 26, 1998. (Cheryl Elliott)

Library looks to schools for Internet fix
Burlington News, February 21, 1998. (Stephanie Henderson)

Library unlikely to impose 'Net ban
Burlington News, February 19, 1998. (Ross Longbottom)

Software solution may not help Burlington library
Hamilton Spectator, February 16, 1998. (David Akin)

Pranksters may face a 'Net' loss
Burlington News, January 31, 1998. (Carmela Fragomeni)

Screening the Net / Policing of Internet at library debated
Burlington News, January 29, 1998. (Carmela Fragomeni)

Library will hear dad's Internet concerns
Burlington News, January 22, 1998. (Carmela Fragomeni)

Internet access concerns father
Burlington Post, 18jan98, (Paul Mitchison)

Dad furious daughter saw erotica on the Net
Burlington News, January 15, 1998. (Carmela Fragomeni)

Keeping dark side of the Net at bay
Hamilton Spectator, January 15, 1998. (Marg Langton)

"The Internet is an important place to learn and explore"
letter in Dundas Review, June 15, 1997. (Jackie Blonski)

"Library should monitor young Internet users"
letter in Dundas Review, June 8, 1997. (Walfried Goosen)

Porn forces library to limit Internet access
Burlington Post, October 25, 1996. (Paul Mitchison)

Kids will be kids
Burlington Post, October 25, 1996. (Editorial)

Additional Contact Information:

Wendy Schick
Chief Librarian, Burlington Public Library
phone:  (905) 639-3611, ext. 100
fax:  (905) 681-7277
email:  schickw@bpl.on.ca

Sonia Lewis
Deputy Chief Librarian, Burlington Public Library
phone:  (905) 639-3611, ext. 101
fax:  (905) 681-7277
email:  lewiss@bpl.on.ca