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In addition to the cost of installing and maintaining public access computers, one of the key issues for libraries is whether or not to install filters, especially on computers used by children and young adults. The Executive Board of the Illinois Library Association has adopted the position that filtering is a decision to be made at the local level, and not mandated by state or federal legislation.
Filtering Talking Points
ILA supports local control. Local officials—library trustees, librarians, and other professional library staff—are the most qualified to decide how Internet access should be provided to their patrons. Bills that propose filtering typically overrule all local decisions and impose a "one size fits all" approach. In opposing this type of legislation, it is especially important that school and public libraries that have installed filters call their legislators and explain that while they may have chosen that route, it was a local decision and they would not want to be subject to a statewide mandate.
- Filters Hurt Libraries
This type of legislation is an unfunded mandate that overrides local control.
- Filters Don't Work
Studies have demonstrated that filters consistently block important information on science, health, political, and social issues and regularly allow objectionable material to get through. This creates new liability for libraries.
- Filters Are Expensive
Paying for filters diverts scarce resources from limited technology budgets—money that could go to buying more computers, and paying for more reliable and faster Internet access.
- Filters Are Inflexible
Filters don't know if the person using the computer is 5, 21, or 65. This "one size fits all" approach treats adults, even senior citizens, like elementary school children. The user doesn't even know what they are being prevented from accessing. We can't expect patrons to ask to unblock computers when they don't know what that particular filter has blocked.
- Filters Are Biased
Private companies and groups with commercial, political, or religious agendas design filters to block what THEY find objectionable, including political candidates, social causes, basic health information, and even information on their own product's faults.
- Filters Hurt the Poor
Economically disadvantaged communities are the most in need of technology because more of their patrons lack these resources at home. This legislation forces less-affluent areas to choose between filling this need or spending money just to block access.
- Filters Are NOT the Best Way to Provide Internet Safety
Teaching patrons to use the Internet responsibly is much more effective.
Report: The Internet and Our Children
Learn more about filtering in this report on teaching our children the critical viewing and thinking skills that will help them decipher and evaluate the world of information online.