From the Field

This site was intended to allow librarians to share advice and recommendations regarding CIPA, and to find information to help librarians solve their CIPA problems.

Michal Gorlick, Bridgeport Public Library

The Bridgeport Public Library policy was created when the Library first offered Internet access to the public in 1997. It has worked well over the years. In 2001 and again in 2003, the Library Board of Directors held a public hearing on the Library's policy. Minor changes have been made to reflect changes in technology and use of computers.

The Library Board of Directors is preparing a policy statement to reflect the reasons why the Board created its current policy. (Board meeting of June 16, 2004)

FAQ on Policy Compliance

Charles Parker, Tampa Bay Library Consortium

The Tampa Bay Library Consortium is managing filtering service for several member libraries. Bess by N2H2 was selected because most other points of comparison being equal, it had a more flexible web-based administration capability that was particularly desirable in a consortial environment. This gives the participating libraries greater flexibility and local autonomy.

TBLC's Ben Ostrowsky came up with the approach described briefly here for disabling the filter on request for adults.

Bess provides the option of disabling the filter at the time users are notified that a site they have tried to access is blocked. Ben came up with the idea of creating a web site outside of the filter with harmless content and instructing the filter to refuse access to that site. This gives library staff the opportunity to disable the filter by requesting a blocked site, but does not require library staff to request a site with offensive content.

Now we're trying to figure out a simple approach for unblocking a single site (as opposed to disabling the filter altogether) so that staff can unblock sites that may be inappropriately or overblocked for customers under 17.

  • A library in Washington submits:
    Instead of blocking whole pages which are identified by the filter, a library could instead choose to block only the images on those pages. A pop-up or other message could inform the patron that the page they are visiting may contain explicit content, and that the images have been removed to comply with CIPA regulations.
  • A library in New York suggests:
    Patrons can be identified as adults or minors when they log on to a library computer, either by checking patron records or by requesting that they certify themselves as adults and saving that certification in their patron profile. If they are adults, they may be presented with a choice of whether they want filtered Internet access or not, and their response may be saved so that their preferred method of access can be provided every time they log on. This makes it easy for adults who do not want filters to turn them off for themselves permanently.
  • Another library suggests:
    All computers (including those used by staff) must have filtered access initially. Staff, however, can turn off their own filters, or get a coworker to do it for them.
  • A library in North Dakota suggests:
    Systems with many small libraries may wish to consider centralized filtering - routing all Internet access through central proxy servers with filters installed. This eases the burden on smaller libraries without dedicated technical staff. By sharing a central filter, a centralized whitelist could contain overblocked sites identified throughout the system, instead of each individual library maintaining its own.