Markkula Center of Applied Ethics

Proposed Solutions

In the course of this research, each of the following potential solutions was identified. We will list them without comment unless they need some further explanation. Again, we believe the key question is this: can we maintain the library's policy of open access and also provide reasonable accomodation for parents who wish to protect their children from sexually-explicit images on the Internet?

  1. Install filtering software on some or all of the children's computers.

  2. Install filters on all terminals used by children under 18, unless the child has parental permission to use the full Internet.

  3. Install filters on terminals in the children's room, but no library imposed restrictions. Parents have the option of requesting that their child's card be coded for filtered terminals only. Thus library enforcement is required, though only at the time of issuing cards. Librarians are not expected to monitor use.

  4. Install filters on some or all terminals in the children's room, but no library-imposed restrictions, nor enforcement. Parents may direct in their children to use only these terminals, but the issue is purely between parent and child, with no library intervention. The library would make a menu available.

  5. Install filters on terminals that can be turned on or off by the patron. The default setting is off. At least one search engine, Magellan, which is available and a free site on the Internet, gives the user a chance to search only "green light sites." Use this as the default search engine, at least in the children's room.

  6. Open Access.

  7. Place computers in private areas and install privacy screens.

  8. Maintain open access and conduct educational programs. Alert parents to choices and options as is currently done. (See Appendix 15 for current parent letter and policies.)

  9. Remove Internet access from the library.

  10. Maintain open access and invite a law suit.

  11. Maintain open access and seek the opinion of the courts.

  12. Eliminate graphics based internet access from the library or install software that goes to text when it hits a blocked site.

  13. Separate graphics-based and text-based computer sections. The children's section would only house text based computers. All graphic based computers would be housed in the adult section of the library. In order for any minor child (17 years or younger) to utilize the graphic based computers an adult guardian must be present, or written permission must be given by the parent. To ensure the legal age of the child, their library card number must be input into the system first. Based on the database information access would be allowed or rejected. In the case of written permission, the Librarian would then input a password to override the system.

  14. Use barcode technology. Deny access of all adult computers to all patrons, then those patrons 18 years or older or those with parental permission, add a barcode containing a password to their library card. This eliminates the constant interruption of librarians.

  15. Eliminate interactive access of the Internet for minors, in the children's section. No one under the age of 18 be allowed use of Adult side computers.

  16. Download information off the "Net" to be used by minors on a non interactive basis. General educational information could be downloaded onto hard drives / main frames which would then be used by minors, in the children's section of the library.

  17. No children under the age of 18 would have access to the Interactive computers in the Adult section of the library. Librarians would need to monitor patronage of adult interactive computers, visually.

  18. Keep the Internet as is but restrict access into the building as: "No one under 18 allowed without parent or guarding.

  19. Monitor technology developments every six months for a system designed something like this: an open access default is coded on the library card, but parents could opt for a limited access code. A card reader is installed at each computer, but all filtering software is located on the web, not on library computers. When the card is read, the browser takes the person to open access or to a menu for a filter which the parents have set and paid for in advance with the filtering software company.

  20. Others?

Back to the Table of Contents or voice your opinion.