otherwise not have access.
The American Library Associationin the U.S., and other similar entitiesaround the world, have developedprofessional standards for the deliveryof information, services, and educationabout the online environment andrelated technologies. In additionto professional standards and bestpractices, both public and schoollibraries are generally heavily governedby public policies. In the U. S., suchpolicies are generated at the local,state, and federal levels. At all levels,policies affect materials and resourcesand how they can and should beaccessed and used, with school librariesbeing expected to help with local andnational educational programs, suchas Common Core State Standards [ 3],and public libraries being expected tofill a wide range of social needs, fromaccess to e-government, to assistancein applying for social services, tochildren’s storytime. Some policyissues can be a mix of all levels; indifferent places, libraries may berequired to filter or block Internetaccess as a result of local, state, andfederal policies, or some combination.
Or they may have no filteringrequirements at all.
Policies at the local, state, andcounty levels tend to shape thefunding of the library, the hours it isopen, staffing requirements, and, inmany places, the content of the library(how much is spent on what kinds ofresources or even an approval processfor the resources acquired). Policiesat the federal level tend to influencethe resources as well, often dictatingwhat records must be kept, what kindof materials cannot be made available,and the privacy protections of patrons.
Federal policy also tends to establish
the primary guidelines for access to
the collections. As such, information
access and interface design in
libraries are shaped by U.S. federal
laws, including the Rehabilitation
Act, the Homeland Security Act, the
Children’s Internet Protection Act
(CIPA), the E-government Act, the
USA PATRIOT Act, the Americans
with Disabilities Act, the Digital
Millennium Copyright Act, and
many others, as well as an assortment
of state and local policies. These
policies raise many issues of access
and design in their implementation
in public and school libraries. As can
be seen in the subsequent examples,
in attempting to achieve inclusive
technology access and universal
usability, libraries must balance the
unique needs of their communities
and the directions provided by policy.
For instance, even when no laws orpolicies require services to be offeredin multiple languages, many librarywebsites in urban areas or areas withlarge immigrant populations offerdigital services in multiple languages,including Spanish, Russian, Hindi,and Korean.
Libraries also struggle with issues ofprivacy. Libraries consider intellectualfreedom a foundational principle thatpervades all aspects of their services.
In the digital age, many materials,such as e-books, online transactionswith government agencies, patronrecords, browsing behavior via alibrary’s computers or other devices,and/or tracking software on a library’snetwork, leave traces of an individual’sinformation and can impact the abilityof libraries to protect patron privacy.Section 215 of the USA PATRIOTAct (as specified in 2001, with themost recent reauthorization in 2011)compelled libraries to relinquishpatron records when presented witha National Security Letter and/or warrant. Libraries were furtherprevented from reporting that theywere in receipt of such a request.Libraries are limited in disclosureto the director, any staff required toprovide the information sought, andlegal counsel. There is no recordsretention requirement in the USAPATRIOT Act, however, and librariescan and do destroy patron records—typically upon return of the borrowedmaterials. The USA PATRIOT Act hascreated a complex dynamic betweenlibraries, civil liberties, and national
SEP TEMBER–OC TOBER 2014 INTERACTIONS 79 INTERAC TIONS. ACM.ORG
The USA PATRIOT Act
has created a complex
libraries, civil liberties,
and national security.