E-mail/Chat on library Internet terminals

Wim Lockefeer lockefeer at limburg.be
Tue Jul 1 12:35:08 EDT 1997

Robert J Tiess wrote:

> Question:  Do you believe this is a valid, natural extension of
> Internet access in a library, a right for the patron to have, or
> do any of you believe Internet access is to be provided as
> merely a research tool and not a medium for communication? (...)
> The second part of my query is this:  What about chats?
> Java chats can be disabled by turning off Java in Netscape
> Navigator, but there are web-based chats too (sometimes
> taking of form a "message board"), cgi-based, essentially
> unstoppable.  Free speech and patron codes of conduct
> considered, should this otherwise silent, unobtrusive
> privilege be prohibited (through policy), or is it something
> we should condone?  (..)

At the Provincial Library of Hasselt, we have a policy that may seem
quite technocratic, but it works : anything the patrons can do using
their www browser is considered acceptable.  We don't install extra
programs for chatting etc., but if they are satisfied with reading and
sending mail or chatting in a www environment, that is not a problem,
provided that they abide to the "proper use" rules, which are clearly
laid out for them.

The argument for allowing paterons to chat and mail is the fact that
these ways of using the internet in some cases are far  more informative
and productive than simply searching the web.  More specifically : if
one patron is "chatting" in a highly specialised room about the
situation in Hong Kong, and another is downloading images of his
favourite rock band, which way of using is more according to "proper
use" rules ?

Wim Lockefeer, Media Coordinator                  lockefeer at limburg.be
Provincie Limburg                              tel : +32 (0)11 237 528
Universiteitslaan 1, B-3500 Hasselt (Belgium)  fax : +32 (0)11 237 510

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