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A balancing act:
Predicting support for requiring Internet filters
in public libraries and schools
Jennifer L. Lambe, Myriah S. Lipke & Elizabeth M. Perse
University of Delaware
Department of Communication
For inquiries, please contact:
Jennifer L. Lambe
Dept. of Communication
250 Pearson Hall
Newark, DE 19716
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A balancing act:
Predicting support for requiring Internet filters in public libraries
Although the First Amendment seems absolute, it is balanced with
other important interests. Protecting children from Internet
pornography has been a struggle for Congress. The Children's
Internet Protection Act (CIPA) requires public libraries and schools
to place filters on computers with Internet access to receive funding
for new technologies. This study examines variables predicting
public attitudes about such filters. News framing, internet
pornography use and liberal-conservative self-ranking are among the
statistically significant predictors.
A balancing act:
Predicting support for requiring Internet filters in public libraries
Although the First Amendment seems absolute in its protection of
freedom of speech and press, it is in practice a right continually
balanced with other social and individual interests. Every effort to
limit expression is tied to perceptions of that expression's
effects. Calls for regulation are especially strong when children
are among those who will be affected. The question of how to protect
children from sexual content on the Internet has been an ongoing
struggle for members of Congress. First Amendment jurisprudence has
clearly stated that while protecting children is a legitimate
government interest, the government may not limit adult access to
content in the process (Reno v. ACLU, 1997).
Congressional efforts to find a way to balance these conflicting
values – protecting children from the perceived harms of Internet
pornography versus protecting freedom of expression – have been
unsuccessful until the passage of the Children's Internet Protection
Act (CIPA). CIPA requires public libraries and K-12 public
schools to place Internet filters on their computers that have access
to the Internet in order to receive government funding to supplement
the costs of the new technologies. In June 2003, the U.S. Supreme
Court ruled CIPA is constitutional because adults can request that
the filter be disabled (US v. American Library Association Inc., 2003).
The overarching argument of those opposed to CIPA is that filters
block access to legitimate web sites as well as those pornographic in
nature. For example if a student were researching breast cancer,
their search may be rejected because it includes the word
"breast." Overfiltering is a characteristic of virtually every
filter on the market (Willems, 1998, Wolinsky, 2001). The argument
is that until filters are designed to be more selective, they should
not be mandatory. Swartz (2003) discusses how librarians and civil
liberties groups contend that filters are a form of censorship that
block a vast amount of valuable information along with
pornography. Another issue raised by CIPA critics is that even with
Internet filters in place, a substantial portion of pornographic
content still gets through to the user. Hunter (2000) tested the
effectiveness of four popular filters and found that not only did the
filters let through 25% of the objectionable material but they also
over-blocked 21% of non-objectionable material.
Supporters of CIPA, however, argue that these problems are minimal
compared to the risks of allowing children unfettered access to the
Internet. Another argument in support of filters is for the
protection of libraries and librarians. The presence of filters is
seen as a preventative action against potential lawsuits regarding
children's access to inappropriate materials (Banks, 1998).
CIPA advocates also point out that public libraries and schools can
opt out of the requirement by foregoing public funding for technology
updates. But opponents counter that it is precisely those libraries
in areas of poverty that cannot provide access to technology unless
they receive government support. It is these areas where fewer
people have home Internet access and therefore rely on public
libraries for access. It is these libraries that are not really
given the choice of whether or not to implement filters on their
computers (Haycock & Associates Inc., 2001).
This is a particularly difficult issue, because the goals of both
sides are in and of themselves noble. But when these goals come into
conflict, it is challenging to strike an acceptable balance. The
purpose of this study is to identify variables that influence a
person's decision about the appropriateness of a government
requirement to install Internet filters in public libraries and
schools. Three different categories of variables that might
influence people's attitudes about this issue were
examined: variables internal to an individual (such as age and
gender), media use, and news framing.
Understanding public opinion on topics such as this has practical
implications. It can assist educational programs designed to inform
parents and their children about the perceived harms of objectionable
content. It can assist these programs by identifying characteristics
of parents who do not take precautions to protect their children from
objectionable content. The programs can then target these parents
specifically. It can also provide insight for individuals and
organizations attempting to protect First Amendment rights by
creating a profile of the type of individual likely to support
restrictions on the freedom of speech. Both sides can use this
information to create informational campaigns countering the opposing
view. Finally, and possibly most important, gaining knowledge
concerning public attitudes about freedom of speech and new
technologies is an integral part of establishing the boundaries of
the law to apply to our technologically changing society.
Although there is conflicting evidence about the relationship between
age and one's willingness to restrict certain forms of expression
(Lambe, 2002), when the issue under examination involves pornography,
evidence points strongly toward older people as being more likely to
support restrictions. For example, Thompson, Chaffee, and Oshagan
(1990) found that older people tend to be proponents of regulating
pornography. Another study found a similar correlation significantly
linking older people and likeliness to support censorship of
pornography (Rojas et al., 1996). Lambe (2002; 2004) also found
support for this trend. Although their study examined sexual and
sexually violent media rather than pornography, Fisher, Cook, and
Shirkey (1994) found evidence that older people are more willing to
support restrictions than younger people when sexual content is involved.
Like the last set of studies mentioned, the current study involved
sexual content, specifically pornographic Internet content. Based on
the strong support in previous research for older people to be more
likely proponents of pornography restrictions than younger people,
the following hypothesis was proposed:
H1: Older people are more likely than younger people to endorse
Internet filters in libraries.
The differences between men and women when it comes to willingness to
censor are also dependent upon the context. Although many studies
(Andsager & Miller, McLeod et al., 1997; 1998; Rucinski & Salmon,
1990; Suedfeld et al., 1994) have not found a significant difference
between genders when it comes to censorship the majority of studies
that do find a difference point to men as being more tolerant of
First Amendment freedoms. Despite this, Keum et al. (2003) found
evidence supporting that in general, females have a higher tolerance
for extremist groups than men.
Research supports a slight tendency for women to support censorship
more than men. Using a scale to measure overall willingness to
censor, Lambe (2002) found that women hold stronger censorship
attitudes than men. Along these same lines Stouffer (1955) and Nunn
et al. (1978) found that men are more willing than women to protect
civil liberties for controversial groups. Evidence supports that
gender has a similar influence when it come to tolerance of free
expression (Immerwahr et al., 1982; Wilson, 1975). White (1986)
found that women are more likely to support the removal of library
books by controversial authors than men.
This trend of men being more tolerant is consistent with research
regarding sexual content. Lambe (2002; 2004) found that women are
more likely than men to support censorship of pornography. Cowan
(1992) sampled recipients of the National Organization of Women
Newsletter and found that gender was related to people's attitude
toward control of pornography with men less in favor of
control. Fisher et al. (1994), Gunther, (1995), Herrman and Bordner
(1983), and Thompson et al. (1990) have all found consistent results
showing men have more tolerance for pornography than women. Because
the issue of Internet filters involves censoring pornography, we propose:
H2: Women are more likely than men to support requiring Internet
filters in libraries.
A person's level of education is another variable that has provided
insight into categorizing people's opinions of civil liberties
issues. Although some studies have found no relationship (Hense &
Wright, 1992; Rojas et al. 1996; Suedfeld et al., 1994), overall,
studies suggest that those who are less educated tend to be less
tolerant of extending civil liberties to all. For example, in an
analysis of several studies Erskine (1970) found that those with a
higher level of education tend to support freedom of speech more than
those with a lower education level. Wilson (1975) also examined
education and its relation to belief in freedom of speech and
press. He found that those who were higher educated were more likely
to have a high belief in freedom of speech and press. Consistent
results were found for willingness to support the removal of books by
controversial authors from public libraries. Those with less
education were more willing to ban the books (White, 1986).
Studies examining political tolerance have had similar
findings. Nunn et al. (1978) found that the higher a person's
education the more politically tolerant they are. Sullivan et al.
(1982) also found that education is positively correlated with
political tolerance. Stouffer's (1955) research also supports this claim.
This connection between level of education and tolerance holds true
for pornography as well. Gunther's (1995) research shows a negative
correlation between education and support for regulation of
pornography. Similarly, Herrman and Bordner (1983) found that
individuals with a higher level of education tended to be more
accepting of erotica. Thompson et al. (1990) found similar
results. Although for the most part those with less education tend
to support censorship of pornography more than those with more
education, Lambe (2002; 2004) has found some deviance from this
trend. She found that individuals with some college or vocational
training were actually the least likely to censor
pornography. Despite this finding, Lambe's research still supports
that those with a high school diploma or less are the most willing to
censor pornographic content. Only a few studies show no significant
relationship between education and tolerance for pornographic content
(Hense and Wright, 1992; Rojas et al., 1996).
H3: Individuals with less education will be more likely than those
with more education to support requiring Internet filters in libraries.
Studies using a liberal/conservative self-ranking scale have found
that when differences exist in censorship attitudes, it is generally
the more conservative respondents who endorse censorship (Lambe,
2002; Keum et al., 2003; McLeod et al., 1997; 1998; Rojas et al.,
1996; Suedfeld et al., 1994; Wilson, 1975). Some studies, though,
have found no relationship between how a people rank themselves in
terms of their political ideology and their acceptance of civil
liberties (Hansen & Moore, 1992; Sullivan et al., 1982; Thompson et
al., 1990; Thompson, 1995).
H4: People who categorize themselves as conservative will be more
likely to support requiring Internet filters than people who say they
Generally speaking, religiosity has been positively correlated with
a willingness to restrict civil liberties, including freedom of
speech and press. This has held true across a variety of expressive
contexts, including general attitudes about freedom of expression
(Anderson & Reinhardt, 1987; Paulson, 1999; Rojas et al., 1996;
Thompson, 1995), and sexually explicit media content (Fisher et al.,
1994; Herrman & Bordner, 1983; Rojas, et al., 1996; Thompson et al., 1990).
A few studies, though, have found no significant relationship
between religiosity and censorship attitudes. For example, Rojas et
al. (1996) found that religiosity did not predict attitudes toward
censorship of television violence. Most relevant for this study,
Cowan (1992) found that religiosity did not help predict whether a
subject would endorse legislative control of pornography.
RQ1: What is the relationship between religiosity and support for
requiring Internet filters?
Commitment to General Democratic Principles
Studies have supported that the strength of an individual's
commitment to general democratic principles is related to how willing
they are to censor free expression. Lambe (2004) found that when a
person had a high commitment to democratic principles they were more
tolerant of hate speech and pornography. They have also been found
to be more politically tolerant in general (Marcus et al., 1995;
Sullivan et al. 1981; Sullivan et al., 1982; Thompson, 1995). This
study tested to see if this commitment to general democratic
principles carries over to the issue of Internet filters with the
H5: An individual with a higher commitment to civil liberties will be
less likely to support requiring Internet filters in libraries than
an individual with a lower commitment to civil liberties.
The amount an individual uses certain types of media has been linked
to their censorship attitudes in several studies, although, the
findings have been inconsistent. Some studies have found that those
who have more exposure to the media (particularly newspapers) tend to
have more lenient attitudes about censorship (Lambe, 2002; McLeod et
al., 1998; Salwen & Driscoll, 1997; Wilson, 1975). Despite newspaper
reading having a negative correlation with willingness to censor,
television use has not been found to be a significant predictor of
general attitudes toward censorship (Lambe, 2002; Salwen & Driscoll,
1997) but has been found to be positively correlated with willingness
to censor political speech and pornography (Lambe, 2002). Rojas et
al. (1996) and Salwen (1998) found no support for the linkage between
media use and support for general willingness to censor.
The Internet has been under recent examination to see if it has any
predictive power when it comes to censorship attitudes. Lambe (2002)
found that those who use the Internet less are more willing to censor
abortion speech and pornography. Because of mixed findings about
media use and the lack of research defining the influence of Internet
use on attitudes of civil liberties, the following research questions
RQ2: Does an individual's media use (including newspapers, television
news and the Internet) predict their support for requiring Internet
filters in libraries?
RQ3: Does an individual's amount of Internet use in libraries predict
their support for requiring Internet filters in libraries?
Pornography use is another variable that has been found to correlate
with attitudes toward censorship. Cowan (1992) found that those who
had less exposure to pornography were more likely to have a
"procontrol" attitude towards pornographic material. Thompson et al.
(1990) found that those who had more exposure to sexual movies and
magazines had less conservative attitudes toward regulating
pornography. Another study conducted by Fisher et al. (1994) found
that those who were more sexually conservative expressed a greater
support for censorship. Based upon these previous studies it was
predicted that pornography use would be correlated with lower support
for the use of Internet filters in libraries:
H6: People who do not use pornography will tend to support requiring
Internet filters in libraries more than people who use pornography.
News Framing as a Variable
One of the reasons why it is difficult to determine public opinion of
civil liberties issues is due the multitude of influences a person
has when formulating their opinion. Previous research suggests that
because of these influences people often have trouble deciding which
side they agree with when it comes to rights (Chong, 1993). Framing
can reveal some of these underlying uncertainties individuals
have. Framing is the process by which media define and construct a
political issue or public controversy (Nelson, Clawson, & Oxley, 1997).
An individual almost always obtains information from outside sources
to assist in constructing a point of view on a given
issue. Depending upon how that outside source frames the issue,
individuals may form very different perspectives. The issue of
framing is examined by Nelson et al. (1997) who focus on how the
media influences people's perceptions of civil liberties issues
through the framing of a news story. By publicly stating the
underlying causes and consequences of social and political issues,
framing affects public opinion by shaping individuals' view points.
Nelson et al. (1997) conducted an experiment using two news stories
about a Ku Klux Klan rally. The first story framed the issue as a
free speech story while the other framed the rally as a disruption of
public order. Although both news stories were covering the same
event, each provoked different views from the participants who
watched them. Subjects who read the "free speech" news story
reported a higher level of tolerance for Ku Klux Klan speeches than
subjects who read the "disruption of public order" frame.
Other research has been conducted that support this claim. In
particular, Nelson and Oxley (1999) also conducted a study using news
articles with manipulated content in order to examine framing
issues. The study manipulated a newspaper story concerning the
building of a new hotel and convention complex in Florida's marsh
lands. One article emphasized the economic benefits including
thousands of new jobs while the other article emphasized the
environmental impact including the consequence of endangering animal
species. Participants in the economic framing condition were found
to have significantly more favorable opinions toward the proposed
construction than participants in the environmental framing condition.
Keum et al. (2003) attempted to discover what influences people's
reactions to news about civil liberties issues. Their findings
suggest that people are influenced by both the media and their own
views. The way in which a story is framed by the media is important
in how an individual will interpret the story. People's ideological
beliefs and individual dispositions work in conjunction with media
framing to influence people's reactions to news about civil liberties issues.
This study tested whether or not media framing played a role in
people's perceptions of first amendment rights, specifically
examining their support for requiring Internet filters. Two news
articles were fabricated, one that was framed to emphasize the
importance of protecting children and the other stressing possible
consequences on free expression. We predict:
H7: Participants who read the fabricated newspaper article that
emphasizes the importance of protecting children will be more likely
to support requiring Internet filters in libraries than the
participants who read the fabricated newspaper article that portrays
the possible consequences of Internet filters on free expression.
Due to resource limitations, a purposive sample was used for this
study. A general random sample was not financially feasible, but it
was important to achieve variance on some of the key independent
measures, including age, education, political ideology and
religiosity. Subjects included students enrolled in an introductory
communication research methods course at the University of XXXXX,
adults with children recruited by students in another communication
course at the same University, parents of students at a music school
in Montgomery County, PA, and parents of children at a daycare in
Bucks County, PA. The total was N=314. The sample was 57% female,
and the mean age was 37.
The dependent variable this study examined was support for Internet
filters in public libraries. Respondents were asked to indicate
their agreement (1 = strongly agree to 6 = strongly disagree) with
seven items focusing on the implications of Internet filters in
libraries. These items were developed specifically for this
study. A pre-test of the measurement device was conducted during
April, 2004 using 10 students enrolled in an undergraduate
communication class. The pretest indicated that the scale was
reliable (a = .81) so all seven items were used in the study. The
items, their range, means, and standard deviations from this study's
data are presented in Table 1.
Support for Internet Filters Scale
Internet filters are beneficial tools for libraries.
1 – 5
Internet filters should be required in public places with Internet access.
1 – 5
The benefits of Internet filters in libraries outweigh the costs.
1 – 5
I support requiring Internet filters in libraries.
1 – 5
Requiring Internet filters in libraries is against our first
amendment rights as Americans.*
1 – 5
Internet filters in libraries do not interfere with anyone's first
1 – 5
A government regulation requiring Internet filters in libraries and
other public places would have a negative effect on society.*
1 – 5
* reversed items
In this study, the first item of the scale was eliminated for further
analysis in order to improve reliability. Also, the items were
recoded so that a higher score would equal more support for Internet
filters. Support for Internet filters ranged from 1-5 (M = 3.4, SD =
1.14, a = .91).
Both age and gender were simple self-report measures. Participants
were also asked to indicate their highest level of education from
these choices: a high school education or less, some college or
vocational school, graduate of a 4-year college, or
Liberal-conservative self-ranking was assessed on a scale from
1=extremely liberal to 7=extremely conservative. Similarly, level of
religiosity was measured by a self-report item ranging from 1=not
religious at all to 4=deeply religious.
The 7-item democratic principles scale is derived from Marcus, et
al. (1995). In their book, With Malice Toward Some: How People Make
Civil Liberties Judgments, Marcus et al. (1995) demonstrate that a
person's standing decision regarding democratic principles has both a
direct and an indirect influence on political tolerance judgments in
a specific situation. They define a standing decision as a "default
decision rule" (p. 59). In other words, in a particular situation
each individual has a "default" level of commitment to democratic
principles, and this level of commitment is an important element of
their decision-making when faced with concrete civil liberties
issues. Some of the items on this scale are "No matter what a
person's political beliefs are, he is entitled to the same legal
rights and protections as anyone else," and "Society shouldn't have
to put up with those who have political ideas that are extremely
different from the views of the majority" (this item is
reverse-coded). The alpha for this scale is .71.
Media use was measured by asking participants to report how often
they read newspapers, watch television news, and use the
Internet. Choices ranged from 1 (almost never) to 4 (every
day). Respondents were also asked to indicate how often they use the
Internet in a public library, how often they view pornography, and
how often they view pornography on the Internet. Possible responses
included never, rarely, several times a year, about once a month, and
about once a week.
To test the effects of news framing on support for requiring
Internet filters, two news stories were created (see Appendix
A). One news story framed Internet filters as restricting First
Amendment rights (anti-filter version) while the other news story
framed Internet filters as a means to protect children from
objectionable material (pro-filter version). A control group
received no frame.
106 respondents received the pro-filter frame; 105 received the
anti-filter frame; 103 were in the control group. The democratic
principles scale was included before the frame in every
condition. In addition, to control for order effects and variance
due to sensitization, three different orders of the questions that
followed the framing manipulation were created. To include the three
framing conditions and the three orders of questions, nine
questionnaire versions were created.
H1 predicted that age would be positively linked to support for
Internet filters in libraries. This hypothesis was supported; age
was positively correlated with the support for Internet filters
variable: r = .17, p < .001.
The second hypothesis predicted that females would be more likely
than males to support Internet filters in libraries. A t-test found
no support for the hypothesis. Females (M = 3.48) were no more
likely to support filters than males: (M = 3.28): t(310) = 1.48,
p = .14.
The third hypothesis predicted that education would be negatively
linked to support for Internet filters. A Pearson correlation found
no support for this prediction:
r = .07, p = .10.
H4 predicted that conservatism would be positively correlated with
support for filters. A one-tailed correlation supported this
hypothesis: r = .25, p < .001.
The fifth hypothesis predicted that commitment to democratic
principles would be negatively related to support for requiring
Internet filters in libraries. A one-tailed Pearson correlation
found support for this hypothesis: r = -.14, p < .01.
The sixth hypothesis predicted that pornography use would be related
to support for requiring Internet filters in libraries. This
hypothesis was supported. Both Internet pornography use (r = .11, p
< .05) and general pornography use (r = .16, p < .01) were linked to
less support for Internet filters in libraries.
A univariate ANOVA was used to test H7, which predicted that
participants who read the fabricated news article that emphasized the
importance of protecting children would be more likely to support
requiring Internet filters in libraries than participants who read
the fabricated news article portraying the possible consequences of
Internet filters on free expression. The frame made a significant
difference in an individual's likeliness to support requiring
Internet filters in libraries: F(2, 310)=12.06, p<.001.
Post-hoc t-tests were conducted to identify the specific frame
effects. Compared to the pro-filters condition (M=3.55), respondents
who were exposed to the anti-filters frame (M=2.98) showed
significantly less support for Internet filters in libraries:
t(209)=3.69, p<.001 The anti-filter group also supported filters
significantly less than the control group (M=3.68): t(205)=4.63,
p<.001. There was no difference between the pro-filters condition
and the control group: t(206)=.84, p=.40.
A final test was conducted for H7 to determine if any covariates
were responsible for the framing effect. The framing effect remained
significant when age, self-ranked liberalism-conservatism, general
commitment to democratic principles, pornography use, and library
Internet use were used as covariates.
Research Question 1
The first research question asked about the relationship between
religiosity and support for requiring Internet filters in
libraries. Higher levels of religiosity are associated with greater
support for requiring Internet filters (r=.15, p<.01).
Research Question 2:
This question asked about the relationship between media use and
support for requiring Internet filters in libraries. While both
television news use (r=-.22, p<.001) and newspaper use (r=-.18,
p<.01) are negatively related to the dependent variable, Internet use
(r=-.04, p=.54) is unrelated.
Research Question 3:
The third research question asked about the relationship between
Internet use in libraries and support for requiring Internet
filters. A negative relationship was observed (r=-.12, p<.05).
A final analysis was conducted to examine the robustness of these
zero-order relationships. Regression analysis provides an indication
of what variables remain significant predictors of support for
requiring Internet filters in libraries when the other independent
variables are also taken into account. Only variables that had a
significant zero-order relationship were included in the regression (Table 2).
Regression Analysis for Predictors of Support
For Requiring Internet Filters in Libraries
Internet pornography use
Television news use*
Library Internet use
p<.05, ** p<.01, ***p<.001
Overall, the variables included explained 17% of the variance in
support for requiring Internet filters: F(10, 289) = 5.99,
p<.001 The analysis revealed that several variables remain
significant predictors of support for Internet filters in libraries,
even when the other independent variables are taken into account
(Table 2). Conservatism was a positive predictor of support for
filters. General pornography use is also a positive predictor, which
is surprising given that the zero-order relationship was
negative. Internet pornography use remained a negative predictor, as
was television news use. The manipulation of the news story frame
was also a significant predictor.
The primary purpose of this study was to identify variables that
predict support for requiring Internet filters in public libraries
and public schools. This requires a balancing act between two
competing social goals – protecting freedom of speech, and protecting
children from potential harm. Identifying the variables that predict
support for filters can provide valuable information about the
factors that enter in to such decision-making.
The hypotheses and research questions examined zero-order
relationships between support for requiring Internet filters in
libraries and a series of independent variables that have been
important in previous studies about censorship attitudes. For the
most part, these hypotheses were supported. Age,
liberal-conservative self-ranking, a general commitment to democratic
principles, pornography use and internet pornography use, and the
framing manipulation were significantly related in the expected
direction. The only exceptions were gender and education, which were
not significantly related in either direction. The research
questions showed additional significant relationships with
religiosity (positive), television news use (negative), newspaper use
(negative), and use of the Internet at the library
(positive). General library use was not a significant predictor.
The regression analysis showed that several of the variables
remained significant predictors when the other independent variables
were included. Perhaps most surprising is the strength of the frame
manipulation. This highlights the importance of media coverage of
such issues in terms of public opinion formation. The zero-order
relationships showed that the control group and the pro-filter frame
were not significantly different; this may suggest that the media
framed this issue as one of protecting children rather than as a free
speech issue. A content analysis of media coverage compared with
public opinion of the issue would provide further insight.
Limitations and Directions for future research
The purposive nature of this study limits the generalizability of
its results. The sample was chosen to provide variance on several
key independent variables – including age, education, political
ideology, and religiosity – so the relationship between these
variables and support for requiring Internet filters in libraries
should not be discounted. However, further research should be done
using a randomized national sample. A national sample would provide
variance on other important individual variables, including race and
The relationships described in this study are correlational in
nature, and therefore cannot establish causality. However,
establishing that a relationship exists is a first step in
identifying those who may (or may not) be persuaded by educational
campaigns designed to modify public opinion on this topic.
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News story frames
Susan Millbury, a Delaware Valley librarian, said she received 3
complaints already this month from library patrons who were with
their children and unexpectedly saw another library user viewing
pornography on the Internet. "It's a difficult situation," Millbury
said, "we've tried posting rules. We've even tried educating parents
One of Millbury's largest concerns is for the protection of
children. She explains it is her job as a librarian to make the
library a safe place for kids. "It is easy to see the absurdity of
uncontrolled Internet access for children and other patrons," Millbury said.
Several other libraries in the area have turned to Internet filters
to sort through the vast amount of information on the
Internet. Internet filters are a pro-active way in which librarians
and others in charge of public Internet access can prevent
pornography from making its way into public venues. Internet filters
are computer software programs that assist these professionals in
restricting pornographic content.
Millbury said she and other librarians she works with are planning to
implement Internet filters in their library as soon as the board of
trustees passes their request.
Millbury said Internet filters will be significantly more effective
than other methods they have tried. She adds, "My staff and I won't
be content until we know that we've done our job as best we can."
FILTERS ARE FLAWED
Susan Millbury, a Delaware Valley librarian, said she received 3
complaints already this month from library patrons who were unable to
access information on the World Wide Web due to Internet
filters. "I've had it," Millbury said, "we've tried lowering the
filter settings but they still seem to block legitimate websites."
One of Millbury's largest concerns is full access to
information. She explains that it is her job as a librarian to make
sure people are able to have access to a variety of
information. "You never know which websites are going to be blocked
by a filter."
Several other libraries in the area have removed the Internet filters
from their computers. Internet filters are seen as a poor substitute
for librarians who otherwise select content in a pro-active
manner. Millbury explains, it is these librarians and other
professionals who should be choosing content, not computer software.
Millbury said she and other librarians she works with are planning to
remove the Internet filters in their library as soon as the board of
trustees passes their request.
"Internet filters are only harming our library," Millbury said,
"finally our patrons won't have to feel like they're only able to
access part of the information that's available to them."
 The previous pieces of legislation on this issue (the
Communications Decency Act and the Child's Online Protection Act)
were found unconstitutional because they violated the First Amendment
rights of adults in order to serve the goal of protecting children.