Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Hot Topic - Filtering

It is hard to be creative on this post… I don't have an opinion other than the ones my classmates have already expressed. It is in our nature as librarians-in-training to be opposed to filtering. We share a compassion for upholding the freedom of information to our future students.

What is bothersome about filters to me is how can THEY deem what is appropriate or inappropriate for a student population? An algorithm or keyword search is more trusting to “filter” inappropriate information than a school librarian, teacher or administrator? Generally, a librarian is trusted for their ability in picking items for the physical collection – they should also be trusted to make those calls for site to be unfiltered. Unlike a person, a filter cannot understand the context of the site – is that person in a swimsuit being suggestive or just a model in a Lands End catalog? Is the mention of “breasts” in a suggestive manner or informative about cancer?

The more appropriate course of action seems to be the education of students to understand for themselves what is inappropriate. As many have mentioned, how will they learn this skill once they are in a filter free world if they are never given that opportunity? I don’t think we give students enough credit.

Of course our best interest is keeping students safe – no one would argue that. But when filtering affects their use of online resources, then that is not creating an effective learning environment.

So what do we do? There is no one solution that will work for everyone, but how can we as librarians ensure the rights of internet users in our library?

1 comment:

  1. It seems to be a bit of a conundrum. We can hope that the concept of filtering will grow into a more flexible approach giving more selection choice to educators who are equipped to know which sites will enhance education and focusing more on education and less on restriction.