"You don’t come to the library to look at porn and stuff like that": Filtering software in public libraries

Louise Cooke, Rachel Spacey, Claire Creaser, Adrienne Muir


Should public libraries filter the content of internet services offered to their users? We discuss this question in the light of findings from the AHRC-funded MAIPLE project, which has been investigating measures taken by UK Public Library Services to manage public internet provision in their libraries. Initial findings suggest that filtering software is extensively used, and that librarians and users alike are mostly content with this solution. It could be argued that this position is at odds with our professional and ethical duties towards clients to provide uninhibited access to information and ideas. However, we recognise the social norms and realities in which services must operate and go on to discuss clear and transparent policies and procedures that public libraries might adopt to mitigate the potential for misuse of their internet facilities.


Public libraries; Filtering software; internet; censorship; child protection

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ISSN 1756-1086 (Online)