Librarians and book-lovers across the nation are observing Banned Books Week, calling attention to issues of reading, censorship, and information in the nation’s schools and libraries. Ames librarian Gina Millsap says people living in a democracy need to note how fragile personal freedoms are, including the right to access information. Still, she says, at times people feel the need to ask for something to be forbidden.She says it’s not just books, she says, it can be an internet website, a library program, even the use of a meeting roomin a public library, and the librarians try to listen and “honor that concern” while remembering the library’s mission to protect everyone’s rights to information. Recently the U.S. supreme court upheld a federal “Children’s Internet Protection Act,” requiring schools and libraries to use filtering software, a topic of concern to librarians. Millsap says filtering software programs can’t make value judgements, and prevent students from viewing classical art as well as many medical information websites. Health-related sites and those that use correct anatomical terms for parts of the human body may be banned regardless of valuable content, so librarians try to help children and consumers be good information consumers and evaluate the many great sites available.
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