Monday, August 15, 2005

Librarian=Internet Cop?


It's been all over library blogs today, and has even been slashdotted, but it's worth mentioning that a Florida Library Director has been suspended and may be fired outright because users of the public library she runs have viewed 'offensive content' on the web using the library's computers.

I hear an awful lot from various politicos in the current administration about the importance of encouraging a 'culture of personal responsibility' when it comes to thinks like Social Security reform and Medicaid/Medicare and other government-funded social programs. And yet when it comes to what people view on the Internet, those same politicos seem to give blanket approval of things like internet filters in public libraries. Does anyone else find this to be a bizarre inconsistency?

I don't understand how it's important to personal responsibility to let people squander their retirement savings in the stock market and at the same time the people who are punished for the viewing of questionable material on library computers are not the patron who looked at the stuff, but the director of the library. Of course, I realize that the two issues are not directly related and that there are plenty of people out there who support the current plans for Social Security reform but don't support internet filtering in libraries or vice versa. What I don't understand is how one would believe that a 'encouraging a culture of personal responsibility' is in any way compatible with internet filtering. And yet obviously people do, because many of those in the 'culture of personal responsibility' camp are also in the internet filtering camp.

Some days I despair of ever understanding the society in which I live.