Managing access to the Internet in public libraries in the UK – the findings of the MAIPLE project

Spacey, Rachel and Cooke, Louise and Creaser, Claire and Muir, Adrienne (2014) Managing access to the Internet in public libraries in the UK – the findings of the MAIPLE project. In: ATINER Annual International Conference on Library and Information Science, 4-7 August 2014, Athens, Greece, 4-7 August 2014, Athens, Greece.

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Managing access to the Internet in public libraries in the UK – the findings of the MAIPLE project
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Abstract

Paper presented at the Annual International Conference on Library and Information Science, 4-7 August 2014, Athens, Greece.
One of the key purposes of the public library is to provide access to information. In the UK, information is provided in printed formats and for the last decade via public access Internet workstations installed as part of the People’s Network initiative. Recent figures reveal that UK public libraries provide approximately 43,000 computer terminals offering users around 83,000,000 hours across more than 4,300 service points. In addition, increasing numbers of public libraries allow users to connect devices such as tablets or smart phones to the Internet via a wireless network access point (Wi-Fi). How do public library staff manage this? What about users viewing harmful or illegal content? What are the implications for a profession committed to freedom of access to information and opposition to censorship? MAIPLE, a two-year project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) has been investigating this issue, as little was known about how UK public libraries manage Internet content control including illegal material. MAIPLE has drawn on an extensive review of the literature, an online survey which all UK public library services (PLS) were invited to complete (39 per cent response rate) and case studies with five services (two in England, one in Scotland, one in Wales and one in Northern Ireland) to examine the ways these issues are managed and their implications for staff. This paper will explore the prevalence of tools such as filtering software, Acceptable Use Policies (AUPs), user authentication, booking software and visual monitoring by staff and consider their efficacy and desirability in the provision of public Internet access. It will consider the professional dilemmas inherent with managing content and access. Finally, it will highlight some of the more important themes emerging from the findings and their implications for practitioners and policy makers.

Keywords:public libraries, Internet, professional ethics, software filtering, digital inclusion
Subjects:P Mass Communications and Documentation > P121 Library studies
Divisions:Professional services > Vice Chancellors Office
ID Code:20072
Deposited On:22 Jan 2016 10:49

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