Librarians and friends raise funds for federal lawsuit

Contact: Larra Clark


ALA News Release

For Immediate Release

July 2001

Librarians and friends raise funds for federal lawsuit

Almost 60 Chicagoland librarians, attorneys, and staff and members of the Chicago-based American Library Association (ALA) gathered in June to raise funds for the ALA's federal lawsuit against the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA). The event was hosted by Lakeview residents Gerald Hodges and Charles Harmon at the Union League Club. More than $8,000 was raised.

"The fight against the Children's Internet Protection Act is not a new one, but it is vitally important," said Gerald Hodges, ALA member and acting associate executive director of communications and marketing. "We have successfully fought the Communications Decency Act and the Children's Online Protection Act, and I expect to be successful again. Filters are contrary to the mission of the public library, which is to provide access to the broadest range of information for a community of diverse individuals."

CIPA, which was signed into law on December 20, requires schools and public libraries to install Internet blocking software on all computers in order to be eligible for federal technology discounts and funding like the e-rate and Library Services Technology Act funds. The ALA and American Civil Liberties Union filed separate suit against the law on March 20 in the U.S. District Court of Eastern Pennsylvania. The court is scheduled to hear the cases, which have been combined, in February 2002. No libraries are required to make a decision about filters until July 2002.

Internet filters have been shown to block access to critical, constitutionally protected speech related to many subject areas, including medical information, political information and information related to the arts and literature.
Consumer Reports magazine testing showed filters also failed to block as much as 20 percent of objectionable Web sites.

"We're concerned that filters give parents a false sense of security that their children are protected when they are not. Not all problems brought on by transformative technological innovation, like the Internet, have technological solutions, at least in the short term," said ALA President John Berry. "We believe that education is more effective than filters-kids need to make good decisions about what they read and view, no matter where they are. To be sure, this is a collaborative effort between parents, teachers, librarians and many others.

Benefit attendees included ALA President John Berry, who also serves as the executive director of NILRC: A Consortium of Community Colleges, Colleges and Universities; past ALA President Sarah Ann Long, who heads the North Suburban Library System based in Wheeling; ALA Executive Director and Goldcoast resident William Gordon; and ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom Director Judith Krug, who lives in Evanston.

"I admire Judith Krug more than just about anyone I know," said ALA member Charles Harmon. "She works every day to protect American's rights to read and learn in our libraries."

Krug has headed the Office for Intellectual Freedom since 1967 and founded the Freedom to Read Foundation in 1969. She received her master's degree from the Graduate Library School of the University of Chicago, and held positions in various Chicago libraries before joining the ALA. Krug is a noted speaker and author in the area of intellectual freedom.

To learn more about the ALA and the lawsuit against CIPA, please visit our
Web site or call 312-280-4223. To learn more about holding fund raising events to fight CIPA, contact Susan Roman, ALA Development Office, 312-280-5419.