Libraries and the Internet Toolkit
Libraries play a unique and vital role in our democratic society—they provide access to the information people need and want, without regard for economic or social position. The American Library Association (ALA), the world's oldest and largest library association, supports libraries in their efforts to meet this important responsibility by promoting the highest quality library and information services and public access to information.
ALA's polices oppose anything or anyone that prevents access to constitutionally protected speech in libraries. Because filters cannot distinguish between protected and unprotected speech, ALA opposes the use of filters in libraries.
Although ALA did not prevail in having the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) declared unconstitutional (for the latest information on CIPA and post-CIPA, see ALA's CIPA Web site and the CIPA section of the Libraries and the Internet Tool Kit), ALA's efforts yielded important and tangible benefits to libraries and library users; the Justices ruled that CIPA is constitutional only if the mandated filters can be readily disabled upon the request of adult library users. Adults do not have to explain why they are making the request.
Most importantly, despite the CIPA ruling, which permits the government to require libraries receiving certain kinds of federal funding to filter Internet content, ALA policy is unchanged. ALA does not recommend the use in libraries of filtering technology that blocks constitutionally protected information.
The American Library Association
- Protects the First Amendment rights of all library users.
- Protects the First Amendment rights of children to use libraries and supports the rights of parents to decide with their children how to use libraries.
- Acknowledges that the role of parents in our society is to care for, instruct, protect and monitor the behavior of their own children.
- Supports parents in taking an active role in carrying out their parental responsibilities in libraries, but not at the expense of other people's rights, or the rights of other people's children.
- Protects equitable access to the Internet for all, and provides the necessary education to make that access enriching and safe.
- Urges libraries to become partners with their respective communities to do the best job they can to provide resources to serve the needs of all of their patrons.