Tag Archives: filtering

Content Filtering in Libraries

Happy New Year! Just a quick post on this poor neglected blog to signpost to some research done by some people involved in the Radical Librarians Collective on content filtering in public libraries.

The study sought to find out what filtering is in place within public libraries, because there is the potential for excessive filtering to act as a barrier to freedom of access to information. The team felt that although filtering is a very tricky topic and there are often good reasons for libraries to want to filter content, that the methods used to do so may take a very broad brush approach with the potential to do more harm than good. This builds on the MAIPLE study conducted by Loughborough University.

The research team used Freedom of Information requests to ask every local authority in the UK the following questions:

1. Do you employ the use of content filtering software on the PCs
based in your libraries which are connected to the internet and
intended for use by the users of your library?

If answer to 1. is “yes”, please:

2. Provide the name and annual cost of the content filtering
software.

3. Provide a full list of the categories of websites blocked (e.g.
“pornography, gambling, phishing etc.”). If these differ according
to the user profile accessing the PC (e.g. child, student, adult,
staff etc.) please provide a full list of categories of websites
blocked for each user profile.

4. Confirm whether you also block specific URLs in addition to
categories, and provide a complete list of these URLs.

5. Provide the relevant policy document or written documentation
which outlines the procedure a user must follow in instances where
they would like to gain access to a website that is blocked.

6. From January 2013 until the present day, please provide a list
of the URLs where users have requested access to despite them being
blocked by the content filtering software.

7. Of the list provided in 6., please detail which URLs access was
granted for and which were denied.

Most local authorities provided information (although some did refuse). The data was collated and has now been published on figshare.

The aim of the research team is to do some analysis of the key trends and write an article around it, as well as to present the work at the LILAC Conference in Dublin in March.

The data has been picked up by The Register and I was asked to talk to them about it for an article they published today.

Challenging Censorship in Scottish Libraries

Just a brief post to plug an event being run by my supervisor David McMenemy at the end of April. Although its focus is on Scottish libraries, the talks will be of interest and relevance to a UK-wide audience and we’re hoping that there’ll be some good discussions.

Challenging Censorship in Scottish Libraries
Towards a Collaborative Solution

Tuesday, 30th April 2013 (5:30 pm – 8:30 pm)
Venue: SIPBS Hamnett Wing
Room: 112-114

Research by the University of Strathclyde has highlighted issues around censorship in public and school libraries in Scotland that affect provision of both paper and digital services.  Evidence suggests that an over-riding factor is the lack of a coordinated national policy approach to censorship issues in libraries.

This event will present the evidence, consider professional ethical codes and practitioner experiences, and aims to propose workable solutions to take forward collaboratively after the session.

Who should attend?

  • Library and information professionals
  • Authors
  • Publishing professionals
  • Students and researchers in library and information science or freedom of expression 

Benefits of attending

  • Open a debate in the sector on this hot topic
  • Build relationships with University of Strathclyde researchers
  • Build relationships with future funding partners
  • Promote collaboration between practitioners
  • Promote freedom of expression

Contact

T: +44 (0)141 548 3045

The event is free to attend and you can register online through the event page.