The study used a stratified sample drawn from the 16,004 public library outlets that could be geo-coded and sampled in terms of their level of poverty (less than 20%, 20%-40%, and greater than 40%) and metropolitan status (urban, suburban, and rural). Selected outlets received a brief questionnaire covering connectivity, number of terminals, access to subscription databases, and use of filters. Regarding filters for content (Table 10), the results were as follows:
|On Some Computers||17.5%|
|On All Computers||24.4%|
Outlets in urban areas were most likely to have filters on all computers and outlets in rural areas were most likely to have no filters.
As noted above, the Supreme Court decision in means that schools and public libraries that accept federal dollars must install filters on all computers.
The application of filters brings together several managerial strands: software and hardware selection decisions similar to those made for other aspects of library automation; managerial cost analysis, including cost-benefit analysis of the cost of applying filters against the benefit of receiving federal monies; and selection decisions to determine which sites to filter. The rest of this fact sheet will provide guidance on the software and hardware selection and cost issues.
And she recommends asking for names of other libraries using the product and checking on their experiences.
(Sara Weissman, "Filters: A Checklist for Product Selection," Public Libraries, September/October 2003, p. 279 © ALA. Used by permission.)
A more extensive online discussion, also from PLA, appears in PLA Tech Notes: Plain Facts About Internet Filtering Software, written by Karen G. Schneider.
The ALA E-rate Task Force has prepared the Adobe Acrobat Reader document, Sample Requests for Information Questions, that libraries may find useful to include in such requests that they send to vendors of filters or other technology designed to meet CIPA requirements.
A source of names of products used in libraries is the Children's Services Survey Section in the Public Library Data Service (PLDS) Statistical Report 2003. The survey for that report requested the name of the filtering software used by the public library on the computers available to children (if applicable), and these are indicated in the report.
The issues of providing filtered access, particularly in the school setting, are discussed in depth in "Safeguarding the Wired Schoolhouse: School District Options for Providing Access to Appropriate Internet Content" from the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN); access this statement at the CoSN web site at:
For a broader discussion on implementing technology in your library, see the ALA Library Fact Sheet 21 - Automating Libraries: A Selected Annotated Bibliography at http://www.ala.org/library/fact21.html which covers the automation basics of identifying system options, developing specifications, and working with vendors.
- How many computers do you filter now?
- What were your one-time costs for hardware (e.g. servers, peripherals)?
- What were your ongoing costs in the most recently completed fiscal year for
(Estimate number of hours spent per year to administer filters and multiply that figure by staff member costs per hour including salary and benefits. Consider automation staff, collection management and admin staff.)
Some responded to all three questions, some were able to answer only two. Using that information, we calculated one-time costs per filtered terminal and ongoing costs per filtered terminal.
School responses came from five different states. The respondents who gave one-time costs reported a range of from a low of $0.20 per filtered terminal to a high of $7.33 per filtered terminal. The school reporting the lowest one-time cost had the highest number of computer (50,000) whereas the school reporting the highest one-time cost had the smallest number of computers (2,000). The respondents who gave us ongoing costs reported a range of from $1.30 per filtered terminal to $5.00 per filtered terminal.
Public library response comes from five different states. For those who reported one-time costs the range was from $6.20 to $25.00. Ongoing costs ranged from $10.88 to $33.94. Overall, the public libraries we surveyed are filtering fewer terminals -- from 90 to 845, as opposed to 2,000 to 50,000 -- meaning that costs were spread over fewer units.
For initial guidance on determining costs in your library, the E-rate Task Force has prepared several Excel spreadsheets to help library administrators capture, understand and compare the overall costs of filtering. These spreadsheets are in a beta test form and are available at the ALA CIPA web site, at:
The Washington State Library prepared a set of slides for its series of CIPA Workshops in 2003, which covered CIPA compliance, technology planning, filter selection and evaluation, and cost evaluation factors. There is also a bibliography of web-based resources. Access the slides online, at:
For more information on this or other fact sheets, contact the ALA Library Reference Desk by telephone: 800-545-2433, extension 2153; fax: 312-280-3255; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; or regular mail: ALA Library, American Library Association, 50 East Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60611-2795.
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