Vast Active Library and Information Science blog. From a recent library science graduate in Wellington, New Zealand. A focus on reference and current awareness tools and issues, especially free, web-based resources.

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Tuesday, June 29, 2004
The new conservatives?  
It's fairly common knowledge that librarians tend to the liberal end of the political spectrum, for good or bad. We're expected (if only by ourselves) to have fairly similar, and liberal, views on issues such as censorship and intellectual freedom, and client privacy (second link via LIS News).

Which is why I was surprised by some recent discussion in one of my classes. We were talking about internet resources, and whether anything should be done about the availability of pornographic material online. A topic we're all familiar with, I'm sure. What was interesting was the number of people who came down in favour of using filters to block access to explicit sites. As has been stated before, filtering isn't anywhere near perfect.

Nonetheless, a significant number of my classmates were of the opinion that filtering was a good thing - with one comment being along the lines of "we shouldn't provide access to anything that we wouldn't purchase in hard copy. We don't subscribe to Hustler, why should we allow patrons to access porn?". Well, yes, but the issue isn't that simple. When it comes to a choice between denying patrons access to legitimate websites, or permitting them to potentially access pornography, I think it's clear that librarians need to stand up for the widest possible access to information. A further point to consider is that censorship is a slippery slope - we shouldn't be giving any ground to those who wish to silence opposing points of view - it may start with pornography, but it could easily move on to gay rights, or unpopular political views.

No censorship of any kind. Let the patrons decide.