|BOOKS VS. BYTES|
Should libraries go high tech?
August 4, 1997
in this forum:
Should librarians choose which Internet sites are appropriate for patrons? How can we keep libraries' computer terminals convenient and accessible? Does installing filtering software on library computers impede First Amendment rights? Would creating a separate children's area of the Web solve the First Amendment question? Will computers allow people to access library databases from home? Will we have "virtual libraries" in the future?
A report on Internet filtering systems.
March 20, 1997
Elizabeth Farnsworth leads a discussion on the Communications Decency Act, which was opposed by the American Library Association.
December 30, 1996
A discussion of the increase in Internet popularity.
American Library Association
New York Public Library
A Question from Tony Lux of Albuquerque, NM:
Will individuals living in a metropolitan area served by a public library someday be able to access computer data bases held by that library from their homes using the Internet?
If so, this not only would decrease the need for computer terminals in the library building, but also make access to this information much more easily available to many people, who for reasons of geography or insufficient time are unable to physically visit the library.
Ann Symons responds:
I live in Juneau, Alaska -- a small community of 28,000 and the state capital. As an avid public library user, I am happy to report that what Mr. Lux suggests is already available in many communities throughout this nation. I can sit at my desk at home at 3:00 A.M. and do EVERYTHING at home that I can do at a public access terminal in the library. I can use the library catalog which includes all libraries in my community. I can place holds on books, look up, read and print magazine articles, access any of the databases, available to me in the library.
Obviously, it still takes a trip to the library to check out a book, take a child to storyhour, or browse our great collection. The ability to have access from home may or may not decrease the need for computers terminals in the library building. It certainly provides a service for people who, at times, prefer to use the library from home. Obviously, one needs to have a computer and modem to do what Mr. Lux suggests. To me it is truly one of the best services my library has to offer.
I suggest to you that you ask your librarian when this might be available in your community and how you can work to make it happen.
Norman Holman responds:
It is now possible to access databases in libraries from the home through the Internet. All the possible permutations of supply and demand possible will evolve as more and more digitized information and images become available.
It is crucial that public libraries continue to level the playing field between the information haves and have-nots. Not everyone can afford or chooses to own a computer at home. It is up to a public library to make those resources available. In addition, it would be cost prohibitive for not-for-profit institutions, such as The New York Public Library, to purchase enough site licenses for expensive databases to enable the general public free access from home.
Questions asked in this forum:
Should librarians choose which Internet sites are appropriate for patrons?
How can we keep libraries' computer terminals convenient and accessible?
Does installing filtering software on library computers impede First Amendment rights?
Would creating a separate children's area of the Web solve the First Amendment question?
Will computers allow people to access library databases from home?
Will we have "virtual libraries" in the future?