Managing access to the internet in public libraries in the UK: the findings of the MAIPLE project

Spacey, Rachel (2014) Managing access to the internet in public libraries in the UK: the findings of the MAIPLE project. In: Annual International Conference on Library and Information Science, 4 - 7 August 2014, Athens.

2014ABST-LIB.pdf - Abstract

Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Presentation)
Item Status:Live Archive


One of the key purposes of the public library is to provide access to information (UNESCO, 1994). 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 40,000
computer terminals offering users around 80,000 hours across more than 4,000 service points (CIPFA, 2012). 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? And 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 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 to which all UK public library services were invited to participate (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 presentation will explore the prevalence of tools such as filtering software, Acceptable Use Policies, 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 within 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:internet access, public libraries, filtering software, ethics
Subjects:P Mass Communications and Documentation > P120 Librarianship
P Mass Communications and Documentation > P100 Information Services
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Education
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ID Code:15976
Deposited On:07 Nov 2014 16:48

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