Monday, December 20, 2010

Blocked sites

I was out of the building last Thursday and Friday, so this morning I came in to a stack of notes on my computer about things that happened, things that needed to be done and questions and problems. One of the problems was that our district's filter has now decided to block Wikimedia's Creative Commons images, video and audio. This site is one that I've been promoting heavily to students because the images are allowed to be used and because it has escaped filtering when so many other image engines have been blocked.

I promptly tested it to see that it was indeed blocked and then sent a helpdesk ticket to get it unblocked with a note "Students need access to images for projects that do not violate copyright. Wikimedia provides images with a Creative Commons license and should be accessible to students and staff." I honestly doubt that I will get too far with my request, at least not before the winter break. I'm frustrated by the many useful sites that are blocked. I believe our district wants to do what's best for kids and wants to protect them from harmful images, but I don't understand taking the filter with "out of the box" settings, rather than tweaking it for our needs. Any time we ask for things to be loosened up with more permissions the CIPA flag gets waved saying we must do (whatever the current barrier is) if we want to get eRate money.

There was a recent issue of Knowledge Quest that addressed filtering in schools and the fact that it is a First Amendment issue and that librarians should take up the intellectual freedom mantle and fight this battle. It's never an easy fight, but it's one we must face to ensure that students have the access they need.

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