Feb 232010

I just heard from Audacia Ray about a project she’s doing with two other researchers about finding out what type of information is available when you search the internet in public libraries.  I think this is a really important bit of research, as many people’s only internet access comes from public libraries. Everyone should be able to find information on health issues, gender identity, and more. I ask that if you have a free second, you go to your library and participate in this project.  All you have to do is show up and go to www.infoandthelibrary.org.

Here’s what Audacia had to say:

We’re in need of people all over the United States who are willing to go to their local public library, do a few quick searches on some keywords and URLs we’ve identified as potentially blocked, and report whether or not they were able to access the information. The searches and completion of the survey take less than five minutes.

As you might know, in the US we are constitutionally granted freedom of information, but private corporations have no obligation to uphold this. So, companies that design web filtering software each come up with their own definition of what they consider “harmful content.” When public libraries use this software, they limit access to sexuality and health information – searches on words like “anal,” “transsexual,” and “abortion” may be blocked. More details and the survey to fill out is here:  http://www.infoandthelibrary.org/