The Hennepin County Library Board called a special meeting on Wednesday, September 9, 1998, preceding the Ways & Means Committee meeting at the Edina Art Center.

PRESENT: Patti Baskin, President
Jack Cole
Marilyn Jackson
Peggy Kelly
Richard Mueller
Carol Walsh
J.L. (Bob) Zaragoza

LIBRARY STAFF ATTENDING: C.Brown, D.Cramer, K.Edson, C.Fischer, P.Johnson, M.McConnell, C.Ahrens & B.Berg.

GUESTS: Diana Hedges (Art Center), JoAnn Harris (OBF).

Prior to the meeting, Diana Hedges of the Art Center welcomed everyone and gave a tour of the facility.

President Baskin called the meeting to order.



Cathy Fischer - Program Report: "Fork in the Road: Filtering Decisions--Youth and Librarians Speak Out"

1) Carrie Gardner, Librarian at a high school: "Filtering necessarily subjects users to someone else's judgment". Different methods of filtering include: 1) keyword filtering which creates a list of denied words; 2) site blocking--workers search for sites that match criteria, no guarantee that workers review every site, workers rely on luck or serendipity to find new sites; 3) Variation on site blocking--selected or specific resources with only educational themes, excludes the vast majority of sites; 4) protocol filtering, can filter out entire functions such as telnet or e-mail; 5) time of day filtering--system administrator can choose time of day when you want filtering to begin; and 6) machine specific or client filtering, users present a profile and are filtered at different levels.

2) Mona Carmack, Director, Johnson County Library, Kansas: they approached filtering with a positive philosophy--here's what we have, here's what we can do. They determined that the most important part of their library mission was provision of information and access, and that they would not filter because it was contrary to this mission, and because filters are unreliable; they also determined that they would not support e-mail and chat rooms for patrons. Policy reflected that regular library procedures would be followed--parents would be involved in their child's selection of materials just as they would with any other medium; staff would assist users make choices. Library staff enforce the behavioral rules in policy, not the content on a patrons' terminal. Users must accept the library's disclaimer which says that it has no control over the content of the Internet and that users agree to take responsibility for their own actions while online. If patron does not accept the disclaimer, they are denied access to the Internet. Johnson County also requires patrons to clear screens before leaving stations.

3) Bennett Hazelton, teen founder of Peacefire: an organization dedicated to fighting for teenagers' freedom of speech on the Internet. Concerns range from self-rating Internet systems, to legislation, to Internet filtering products. Handouts of material from this group were distributed, including a summary of legal precedents that establish that the installation of blocking software by public libraries is unconstitutional under the First Amendment.

4) Merchuria Williams, media coordinator for Atlanta (GA) public schools: discussed the process used by this school system which encompasses 99 schools to determine whether or not to use filters. The decision-making process was outlined on a handout. They decided not to use filters based on, among other considerations, the belief that the schools, with the parents, have the obligation and responsibility to teach good citizenship, responsibility, and good judgment, and that filtering would preempt the rights of parents.

Kim Edson - Internet Policies: Internet policy development--review of ALA guidelines. Need to make a policy statement about filters. If choose not to filter, patrons will question that choice and Library Board and staff need to be ready to address. Reference to the Internet notebooks (dated 6/16/98, sent to Commissioners and Library Board members), Section 9, recent case studies. Public libraries are different than school libraries, as public libraries serve the entire community. Determine if policy contains philosophy, procedure, or both.

Policy fitness test:
--how does it relate to other library polices?
--are there time limits on other resources if time limits on Internet?

Staff training & publicizing the policy--need to include a media blitz prior to any problems developing.

Review of MELSA member Internet polices:
Anoka County Library: "short, sweet & simple".
Carver County Library: individuals are responsible.
Dakota County Library: policy has been revised since the 6/16/98 notebooks; does not have a formal Internet policy, has Netscape User Agreement; must be a Dakota County Library patron to use the Internet.
Minneapolis Public Library: slightly different than one in the 6/16/98 notebooks; added a section on children's department; policy is linked to Rules of Conduct.
Ramsey County Library: distinction between materials selected for collection and materials available on the Internet.
St. Paul Public Library: significantly different from other MELSA Internet policies; focus on negative aspects of Internet; indicates relationship to the mission; holds adults to same standards as minors; current Minnesota law exempts libraries from "harmful to minors/sexually explicit" materials.
Scott County Library: more procedural; workstation agreement.
Washington County Library: very short; states scope, disclaimer, relates to mission.

General Consistent Themes:
--No MELSA libraries currently use Internet filtering
--Most relate to mission
--Responsibility for use of Internet lies with parents or guardians
--User right to privacy
--No law breaking
--Internet is an uncontrolled resource
--Time limits

Penny Johnson - Kidlinks:
1) Time to work with parents & children to train on use of Internet.
2) Plan to use Library Channel
--a collection of reviewed sites
--cul de sac of sites
--each site can be modified to meet community needs

Three sites planned: Brookdale, Maple Grove, Brooklyn Park

Request to include Library Board in the openings and the announcements of the Kidlinks centers. Looking at openings at the end of October, but no final date yet. The Library Channel requires going through the County purchasing process, very time consuming process.
[Update: openings are now tentatively scheduled for December, 1998.]

Motion to adjourn was made and seconded; meeting was adjourned.

J. L. Zaragoza, Secretary