Since the original research was done for my doctoral dissertation in the spring of 2004, the topic of Internet filtering in libraries has gone to the back burner. After a flurry of post-mortem news stories following the surprising ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court that upheld the constitutionality of the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), the attention of the intellectual freedom community in libraries went elsewhere. And yet, today more than ever libraries need guidance on how to live in a post-CIPA world. They need to learn how to minimize the limitations of filtering in order to provide as much of the world of information as possible to their users.
Most of the library literature that has appeared in the last two years has been geared to public libraries. CIPA has forced public libraries to make very difficult Sophie-type choices. They must either forego considerable amounts of federal funding in the form of e-rate discounts and grants (which ironically all too often provide the only means of buying computers for the public to use) or invest in filtering systems that they know will result in large amounts of legitimate, constitutionally-protected speech being denied to their patrons.