Glasgow Libraries Blocking Flickr, Twitter, YouTube

Christine Rooney-Browne writes:

After filling out a customer comment card I posted about my experiences on my blog, Library of Digress. I received several comments from others expressing similar concerns in other local authorities. The Head of PR for Glasgow City Council, Colin Edgar, also commented and informed me that the problems with Facebook and MySpace were the result of “small technical problems” which have since been resolved. Flickr and YouTube are still unavailable, however, as Glasgow Libraries are concerned that minors might be able to view adult content via these sites. Twitter, on the other hand, had been added to the list of banned websites because it was “…relatively new so a decision hasn’t been made yet by libraries as to whether to permit access”.

I absolutely understand the need to protect and prevent users from accessing inappropriate content from public access PCs. However, I am unhappy that this is being used as a justification for banning access to useful websites, especially when users could easily stumble across inappropriate content on websites that are not banned. So as a member of Glasgow Libraries I am unable to browse photography collections on Flickr, view webcasts on YouTube or share information on Twitter, at least for the time being.

This experience highlights the inconsistency that exists in Scotland in terms of public libraries providing access to and supporting web 2.0 services. It also draws our attention to a possible lack of awareness about what these websites actually do and misconceptions regarding their value. In addition, it communicates a mixed message to library users throughout Scotland with some being unfairly disadvantaged as a result of local internet filtering policies.

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