Controlling access to the Internet in UK public libraries

Jonathan Willson (Jonathan Willson is Principal Lecturer in the Department of Information and Communications, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK. )
Tony Oulton (Tony Oulton is Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Research in Library and Information Management (CERLIM), Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK.)

OCLC Systems & Services: International digital library perspectives

ISSN: 1065-075X

Publication date: 1 December 2000


Policies and practices of UK public libraries in providing access to Internet services are reviewed. Results of a questionnaire survey conducted as part of the Library and Information Commission funded PuPPS (public places, private spaces) scoping study of privacy, anonymity and confidentiality in public libraries, are reported. Ninety‐six per cent of respondents indicated that they had Internet facilities for the public. Many respondents indicated that they had policy documents on provision of and access to electronic and print materials. The majority of libraries (71 per cent) imposed some form of control on public access computers and a smaller majority (56 per cent) on staff only computers. The reliability and effectiveness of software currently available for filtering and blocking was a major cause for concern amongst respondents. The major reason for the imposition of control software appeared to be concern about access to sexually explicit material. The use of such software is frequently part of a broad corporate policy, designed to protect the local authority from adverse criticism by public or staff. Issues of privacy, anonymity and confidentiality were of lesser concern to public library respondents than control of public access to inappropriate material on the Internet.



Willson, J. and Oulton, T. (2000), "Controlling access to the Internet in UK public libraries", OCLC Systems & Services: International digital library perspectives, Vol. 16 No. 4, pp. 194-201.

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Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

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