Not only does Banned Books Week celebrate and advocate for the fREADom to express and share all types of knowledge of the written word, but also raises awareness of another type of censorship that takes place—the overly restrictive blocking of legitimate, educational websites and academically useful social networking tools in schools and libraries.
The American Association of School Librarians (AASL), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), designates one day during Banned Books Week as Banned Websites Awareness Day. Other partner organizations familiar with the fight against censorship include the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF).
Here at the Free Library, we have our own Electronic Resources and the Internet Policy that we follow as far as filtering guidelines, for both patron library computer use and wireless usage (WiFi). We also follow the provisions in the Children’s Internet Protection Act, passed in 2000. This act requires schools and libraries to block access by minors to content that may be harmful to them, including obscene material and child pornography.
Unfortunately, there isn't a simple one-answer-fits-all solution for which websites may be deemed inappropriate, obscene, or harmful, as opposed to sites or topics that may just be seen as displaying controversial or questionable content and information.
No filter is perfect.
But also as a library, we want to promote an awareness of how overly restrictive filtering affects learning and exploration. We have and will always advocate for the "comprehensive collection of recorded knowledge, ideas, artistic expression, and information in a variety of media, including current technology..."
Our Digital Learning Portal provides access to databases full of resources to help promote critical thinking and teach information literacy skills.
If you have used a computer at a Free Library location and were unable to access a particular website or content that you think should not have been blocked, let us know in the comments, or use our Contact Us form.