Contact: Larra Clark, Press Officer
For Immediate Release
August 25, 2003
ALA reaffirms core values, commitment to members at August 23
meeting: A statement from ALA President Carla Hayden
(CHICAGO) On August 23, a group of librarians and trustees representing many of ALA’s committees, divisions and libraries of all types gathered to discuss how best to serve libraries and the millions of people who depend on their services in light of the recent Supreme Court ruling on the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA). I was proud to be a part of a process that reaffirmed our profession’s fundamental values of equity of access and intellectual freedom for all.
Librarians nationwide today are working in a changed environment. We continue to oppose the use of filters that block access to constitutionally protected speech and believe filters are not the best way to ensure library users have a safe and enriching online experience. Now, however, many library staff and trustees need to make informed decisions that minimize restrictions on access to legal and useful information online in light of CIPA.
The American Library Association (ALA) has a long tradition of providing practical, real-life assistance to our members, as well as developing best practices and ideals for quality service. At the meeting, ALA representatives from across the country recommitted themselves to developing the different tools necessary to inform and assist librarians and the communities they serve.
In the coming weeks, ALA members and staff will:
- Gather current information on the cost of various technological protection measures, including software, maintenance, staffing and other costs libraries encounter when they begin a program using these measures. Because CIPA is an unfunded mandate, library boards must have the best information possible to determine financial impacts - particularly at a time when book budgets, hours of service and staff are being cut because of budget reductions. In many instances, the implementation of filters will result in cuts in other services.
- Begin developing criteria and tools for evaluating technological protection measures in such areas as transparency of the company and its blocked list, customization tools that allow for the most narrow restrictions, privacy protections and ease of disabling, to name a few. As became apparent during CIPA trial testimony, Internet filters overblock and underblock information, and any library compelled to install a filter should have the ability to minimize that harm.
- Provide those libraries that will need to comply with CIPA with accurate, up-to-date and step-by-step information on what is needed to meet implementation requirements.
- Develop a communications plan to consistently update ALA members on new resources and to educate the public about effective Internet safety. The ALA and library staff nationwide help ensure Internet safety and education, including using "white lists" like Great Web Sites for Kids (www.ala.org/greatsites), Internet classes for children and families, and Internet policies and procedures. As the National Research Council has stated, there is no "silver bullet." Parents must not be lulled into a false sense of security with filters. We must teach children to protect their privacy online and find the best the Web has to offer while avoiding illegal information.
- Work with state chapters to oppose any further efforts to mandate filters in libraries.
- Gather and share additional research on the impact of implementing filters.
Equity of access is a core value of the library profession and the ALA, and we must be clear that installing filters that block access to safe and legal information deepens the digital divide between those who have Internet access at home, work or school and those who ‘have not.’ Public libraries are the main access point for millions of Americans who do not otherwise have access to the wide world of information available online, and we must ensure that libraries continue to serve all people equally.
The ALA and its various units are committed to their 127-year tradition of serving library staff and the millions of Americans who depend on school and public libraries. I am grateful for the time everyone took on Saturday to think seriously and strategically together, and I look forward to sharing more information and resources as they are developed and vetted by library leaders nationwide.