BOOK REVIEW: MANAGING THE INTERNET CONTROVERSY
Mark Smith, ed. Neal-Schuman, 2001. 1-55570-395-x. $45.00. To order: http://www.neal-schuman.com/db/5/65.html or 800-584-2414
The Internet has been a mixed blessing for librarians. It has given us the ability to extend our "collection" well beyond the reach of our normal materials budget, and has allowed us to deliver our catalog and full-text databases to our users at any hour of the day or night. At the same time, it has made us public enemy number one, target of Dr. Laura, pro-family pressure groups, and congressmen, who regard the Library Bill of Rights as a license for pornographers. It has even caused conflict within our own libraries, as some staff members have sued their libraries for exposing them to sexual harassment by way of the internet.
What this book does is address not only the philosophical and legal issues involved, in essays by Nancy Kranich and Judith Krug, but the practical issues involved in dealing with all our constituencies: children, parents, our library boards, the media, local politicians, and friends of the library. (The book would benefit from a chapter on dealing with local church leaders as well.)
Carolyn Caywood's essay on working with staff is particularly valuable because in many libraries, policy is set by librarians alone, but enforced by all library staff, who may or may not understand the rationale behind the policies. She points out the need for the entire library staff to work out not only the policies, but scenarios for dealing with specific problem behaviors by patrons using the internet. All staff members need to know exactly what patron behaviors are unacceptable, what wording to use to explain the policies, and what degree of authority they have to deal with them. Moreover, all library staff needs to be given the time and training to master the basics of internet search and retrieval.
The essay on dealing with local politicians is valuable because it teaches us to think about the issue in terms of their needs -- for making a difference, avoiding controversy, and getting re-elected. That means librarians need to be able to tell legislators how public internet access improves the lives of their constituents, by providing better service and expanded access to more people, at a reasonable price. They need to identify potential allies and enemies and build coalitions and coordinated strategies.
Patricia Glass Schuman's article, "Say the Right Thing! Twelve Rules for Answering Tough Questions," is an outstanding guide to dealing with reporters looking for a controversy or a "gotcha" story. Gordon Conable's essay gives strategies for educating library trustees about the benefits of the internet and policy options for avoiding adverse consequences and public controversy. Carolyn Noah shows some of the guides and training a number of libraries have provided for young people. Ann K. Symons suggests a number of strategies for helping parents understand the internet and guide their children through it. An especially interesting chapter explains how the Santa Clara County Library, aided by the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, spent two years and endless public meetings developing a policy that satisfied most constituents, and at the very least convinced everyone that their concerns were heard and taken into account.
The weakness of any anthology is unevenness -- some pieces have more value than others. The strength is how much wider an array of ideas and opinions it can bring to a subject. I have never subscribed to the theory that a "camel-is-a-horse-designed-by-a-committee." I think we all have unique perspectives, experiences, and ideas to inform our decisionmaking, and on an issue as explosive as this, the more voices we can hear and learn from, the better.
Reviewed by Marylaine Block
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TIPS AND SITES FOR PC AND INTERNET TROUBLESHOOTING
by Houston R. Allen,
There are many folks out there offering products, services, and advice for PC and Internet problems. Here are few of my findings, which may help avoid or solve some of the more frequently arising problems:
- If your computer has a Disk Defragmenter option, use it, and at least once per week. This helps your computer rebuild its file structures after heavy use, and may help avoid an eventual system breakdown. Some tips on using "defrag" may be found at http://members.home.net/winhelp98/defrag.htm
- If you're having problems with an application, and have the source disk to re-install it, you may have some extraneous entries in the Windows Registry that are causing problems. There are two utilities I recommend, depending on the problem: Regclean.exe, a Microsoft utility for general registry cleanup, found at http://www.createwindow.com/wininfo/regclean.htm, and Regcleaner.exe, a non-Microsoft utility for removing references to specific programs (such as those you thought you had fully deleted long ago), available at http://www.tweakfiles.com/registry/regcleaner.html. This one in particular can be helpful prior to re-installing a problem application.
- If you're not happy with your internet connection speed, there are a couple of places you can run an internet speedometer test: http://promos.mcafee.com/speedometer/, and http://computingcentral.msn.com/internet/
- A visit from a technician with AT&T's @home cable Internet service showed that my high-speed Internet was only functioning at around 56K. He showed me some tweaks available at http://www.speedguide.net, and after installing the appropriate one for my system; my download speeds are now in the 1.5 - 2.0 MB range! There are also some discussion forums available there which may be helpful with specific problems.
- Use Anti-Virus Software! I use McAfee currently, found at http://www.mcafee.com and am very pleased with it. I also routinely encourage my readers to check out any new reports of viruses first to see if they are hoaxes. Both McAfee and Symantec have virus hoax lists, at http://vil.mcafee.com/hoax.asp? and http://www.symantec.com/avcenter/hoax.html, respectively.
- I recommend http://www.pcworld.com/ as a general resource for PC related questions.
- Is your computer clock slipping or running ahead? You may eventually need a new battery for your PC, but in the meantime, try Web Time at http://www.gregorybraun.com/WebTime.html.
- And before you spend three hours on your cell phone with your vendor's tech support, check out your cell phone radiation readings at http://home.cnet.com/wireless/0-5939521-
All the above links may be found on my web site at http://houtek.com/. See you in cyberspace!
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From time to time, I have exasperated my beloved friends in the arts community by refusing to call various attempts by the government to control the content of the things it funds "censorship." I think it's unwise; I think it hurts the free exchange of ideas; I think it reveals narrow-mindedness and stupidity.
But, dear friends, you made a deal with the devil. You knew they were narrow-minded and stupid when you took their money. . . .
There is a solution: Don't take the money.
Jon Carroll. "Shut up and take this pill." San Francisco Chronicle, July 24, 2001. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/
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Ex Libris: an E-Zine for Librarians and Other Information Junkies.
Copyright, Marylaine Block, 2000.
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