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"Section 28 V2.0? Filtering Software and Access to LGBT Internet Resources in Public Libraries." I. Boag. D. McMenemy. Department of Computer and Information Sciences, University of Strathclyde. 2012. Download PDF (BibTeX) MSc Information and Library Studies

This study investigates the extent to which the use of filtering software in Scottish public libraries results in the censorship of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Internet resources. Additional considerations include the impact of censorship of LGBT Internet resources on LGBT patrons. There is a particular focus on censorship of Web 2.0 resources and the degree to which social networking websites provide LGBT people with a virtual support network.

The researcher utilized a mixed qualitative and quantitative methodological approach. Data was collected via two iterations of a survey technique. Freedom of Information requests were sent to all 32 Scottish local authorities and an online questionnaire was conducted through social networking forums managed by Stonewall Scotland and LGBT Youth Scotland.

The study found that the use of filtering in Scottish public libraries is widespread and Scottish library services have little control over the management of filtering software. Additionally there is a lack of co-ordination at national level in relation to the implementation of filtering in libraries. Filtering software utilised by Scottish library services was found to block LGBT material: specifically LGBT sexual health sites; LGBT social networking sites; and LGBT support organisations. Social networking websites were found to be one of the most blocked categories of website. The findings of the online questionnaire suggest that censorship of Web 2.0 sites is likely to have a substantial impact on LGBT library patrons: online questionnaire participants were frequent users of Web 2.0 resources and gained a significant sense of community from social networking sites.

The findings suggest that filtering software is at odds with the ethos of the library profession and the stated aims of Scottish local authorities. The findings also indicate that maladministration of filtering software in Scottish public libraries is related to the lack control which Scottish library services have over their computer networks. The primary recommendations of this study are as follows:

* Library services should replace filtering software with alternative Internet management policies such as patron education and improved Acceptable Use Policies.

* Control of library computer networks should be devolved from local authority IT departments to library services.