Statement on Use of Internet Filters
The New Hampshire Library Association supports the principle of open access to information and ideas, regardless of the medium in which they exist. The Association believes that a democracy can only succeed if its citizens have access to the information necessary to form opinions and make decisions on issues affecting their lives. The Association regards access to this information as a right of free citizens. The Association endorses the American Library Association's Code of Ethics, Freedom to Read Statement, the Library Bill of Rights, and the interpretations of the Library Bill of Rights. The Association encourages libraries to adopt policies consistent with their resources and their mission while supporting these ideals.
The New Hampshire Library Association recognizes concerns regarding access to the Internet. The use of Internet filters to restrict access has been suggested, but poses many problems for libraries. Filters block valuable information, thus preventing the library from fulfilling one of its most basic missions. Because of their inherent imperfections, and an environment that changes daily, Internet filters offer parents and caregivers a false sense of security. In addition, filters may prove unconstitutional in public institutions, since some of the information they block is constitutionally protected speech.
The New Hampshire Library Association encourages librarians to develop and promote web sites, including links to the Internet resources that best satisfy users' interests and needs, and instruct users on effective searching techniques. Libraries may want to consider acceptable use policies. In addition, they may want to consider installation of privacy screens or placing workstations away from public view to protect users' confidentiality.
The New Hampshire Library Association does not recommend the use of Internet filters in libraries, and emphatically opposes attempts by federal and state governments to set such policy for libraries.
We gratefully acknowledge the Virginia Library Association, the Rhode Island Library Association, and the North Carolina Public Library Directors Association for making their resolutions available.