Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Internet filtering: what I've learnt and ideas for librarians

Opportunity for educating the public, families and teens

Internet Filtering is a euphemism for censorship with people being the censors who deem something censorial for various reasons.

I think it is especially the school and public librarians among us that  have a huge opportunity and can play an important role in educating their communities about online safety and safe internet surfing.  Maybe you are already doing this? If not, I'm including a few ideas. One could share internet safety tips as a screen saver on the open floor computers.  Consider making and including a few slides on the topic on your plasma screen (if you have one available), or otherwise compile a list of websites (make a wiki in future!) and create a QR code for the created list to hand out to library users. Make a printout of the code and distribute it by putting it in the books issued, for instance. Simultaneously educate users about QR codes?

Maybe explore opportunities such as designing a pamphlet on the topic which include links on various aspects of Internet Safety.

Arrange a book display where you include a list of useful online safety  tips and websites.

Make it one of your first entries if you develop a blog for the library!

Liaise with your municipality staff and get their buy-in.  Compile a short annotated list of important websites for inclusion  with the municipal newsletter /  bill or other communication method they use.

Arrange a Fun Quizz to test the users' Internet Safety Knowledge like Oshkosh Public Library are doing!

Think of appropriate ways to educate your community on this (and of course other ITC) topics, I tell myself as well.  As librarians we are embedded in your communities, and therefor must not underestimate the role we can play in educating and empowering our users.

 I've learnt there are various reasons for censoring, including
  • Morality; which uses a moral argument why something is not good.
  • Political: for instance the banning of certain books as was found under the SA apartheid regime.
  • Religious: as abound in the Middle East today.
  • Military: protection of information Bill.... Sandy mentioned the WikiLeaks example.
  • Other: such as porn. Adults have a way to avoid it, but children are at risk.

 Filters need to be fitted, but there are ways around these as well. This is a door left wide open if one doesn't beware and put in place multiple barriers to safeguard especially our young children and teens  to keep them from "inappropriate for their age" Internet content. With all the available technology and many demands on parents' time, it becomes harder and harder to 'stay with' what your kids are watching and seeing. 

Librarians need to decide whether they are gatekeepers or not and what role they should play with regards to censorship.

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