A Legal, Ethical, & Technological Dilemma: Internet Filtering for Explicit Content in Public Libraries

Peter Doolan, Mattias Olshausen, Tim Rainey


This literature review, originally written in February 2015 to satisfy course requirements for LIBR 505: Research Methods in Information Organizations, explores various aspects of the debate surrounding Internet filtering for explicit content on public library computers in North America, with a focus on libraries and legislation in the United States. The literature examined extends from the early 2000s to the present.


censorship, collection development, Internet

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Adamson, W. (2002). Sex in the city: What happened at the Minneapolis Public Library. NewBreed Librarian, 2(2). Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1794/1113

American Library Association. (2012). A FAQ on library filtering policies in Washington state. Retrieved from http://connect.ala.org/files/28462/Exhibit_I_FilteringPacket.pdf

Bell, Bernard W. (2000). Filth, filtering, and the First Amendment: Ruminations on public libraries' use of internet filtering software. Federal Communications Law Journal, 53, 191-237. Retrieved from http://heinonline.org

Berry, J. (2002). Fear of information. Library Journal, 127(7). Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/docview/196849559?accountid=14656

Bravard, R. S. (1989). Actualities of regulating pornography. Collection Building, 9(2), 33-35.

Cannan, John (2010, June 15). United States: Washington State Supreme Court Upholds Library’s Internet Filtering Policy. Retrieved from http://www.loc.gov/law/foreign-news/article/united-states-washington-state-supreme-court-upholds-librarys-internet-filtering-policy/

Chambers, J., Halley, P., Hone, L., & Eberle, C. (204, August 6). E-rate Modernization [Webinar]. Retrieved from http://www.districtdispatch.org/2014/08/e-rate-never-sleeps/

Chmara, T. (2012). Library internet filtering update. Retrieved from http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.ftrf.org/resource/resmgr/docs/libraryfilteringupdate_july_.pdf

Cohen, H & Minow, M. (2006). Intellectual freedom in libraries: Then and now. Advances in Librarianship, 30, 73-101. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0065-2830(06)30002-5

Curry, A. (2000). What are public library customers viewing on the internet?: An analysis of Burnaby transaction logs. Submitted to the Burnaby Public Library.

Dilevko, J. & Gottlieb, L. (2004). Selection and cataloging of adult pornography web sites for academic libraries. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 30(1), 36-50. Retrieved from http://heinonline.org/HOL/Page?handle=hein.journals/drklr51&collection=journals&page=213

Estabrook, L. S. & Lakner, E. (2000). Managing internet access: Results of a national survey. American Libraries, 31(8). Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/25637759

Hougton-Jan, S. (2010). Internet Filtering. Library Technology Reports, 46(8), 25-33. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eue&AN=503003767&site=ehost-live&scope=site

Laughlin, G. K. (2003). Sex, lies, and library cards: The First Amendment implications of the use of software filters to control access to internet pornography in public libraries. Drake Law Review, 51, 213-282. Retrieved from http://heinonline.org

Pautz, H. (2013). Managing access to the internet in public libraries. New Library World, 114, 308-318. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/docview/1399602316?accountid=14656

Pors, N. (2001). Misbehaviour in the public library: internet use, filtering, and difficult people. New Library World, 102(9), 309-313. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/EUM0000000005899

Skaggs, J. (2003). Burning the library to roast the pig? Online pornography and internet filtering in the free public library. Brooklyn Law Review, 68(3), 809-852. Retrieved from http://heinonline.org.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/HOL/Page?handle=hein.journals/brklr68&collection=journals&page=809

Spacey, R., Cooke, L., Muir, A. & Creaser, C. (2014). Regulating use of the internet in public libraries: A review. Journal of Documentation, 70, 478-497. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/JD-02-2013-0021

Theyer, H. (2000). A librarian's right to comfort. American Libraries, 31(6). Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/25637669

Trushina, I. (2004). Freedom of access: ethical dilemma for internet librarians. The electronic library, 22(5), 416-421. Retrieved from http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/full/10.1108/02640470410561938

Wardak, L. (2003). Internet filters & the First Amendment. Loyola University Chicago Law Journal, 35, 657-735. Retrieved from http://heinonline.org

Young, G. (2003). No smut at work, please. National Law Journal. Retrieved from http://www.nationallawjournal.com/id=900005393712/No-smut-at-work-please?slreturn=20150113192910


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