Marc Davis davis at
Thu Jul 3 08:26:11 EDT 1997

I hesitate to add yet another post to this endless thread, but I have to
say that I'm not terribly sure what is being discussed.

Libraries have no more control over what is published on the Internet than
they have controlled what was published by print publishers or distributed
by jobbers.

Librarians have always selected from the whole body of print available
those items which seemed appropriate to the Library's mission, within
their budget constraints, and in response/anticipation of the interests
and needs of their patron population.  Those choices and limitations have
always varied from library to library.

Libraries have not defined themselves as simple warehouses of information.
We claim that we add value to the information by virtue of classification,
guidance, experience that we give to patrons as they pursue information
for their own ends.

Public libraries function in a very different atmosphere from academic
libraries, research libraries, specialized libraries.  Each shapes and is
shaped by a unique environment comprised of community, mission, resources
and individuals.

It seems a bit silly for me to pose questions like "should libraries
filter?"  I don't think there are any "one size fits all" answers for
these sorts of questions.  I'd rather see questions like "is filtering
appropriate for a [branch public] library with a [particular patron
population?]"  or "how can we resolve conflicting demands within our
patron population for different "levels" of internet access?"

I think many librarians and library workers are appropriately focused on
fulfilling the library's mission, however that has been locally defined.
I'm more comfortable, I guess, with a diverse set of libraries -- some of
which filter, some of which don't, some of which filter some of the time
-- each focused on meeting it's own mission than on some universal
application of some moral principle about filtering (on either side).

Marc W. Davis                             davis at
Manager/Building Services                 402/554-3745
University Library                        fax 402/554-3215	
University of Nebraska at Omaha           Omaha, Nebraska  68182-0237		

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