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Magazines > Computers in Libraries > April 2004
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Vol. 24 No. 4 — April 2004

The Info Was There, Then—Poof!
by Kathy Dempsey

This month's topic is the stickiest, yet most interesting, one we'll cover all year. Security vs. the Right to Know has solid arguments on both sides. First, it's obvious that we must keep the nation secure. We can't go around publishing the locations of all of our missile silos, vulnerable pipelines, nuclear facilities, caves, and presidential hideaways. On the other hand, what about the researchers who legitimately need such information? And what about others who just plain want it? Where do you draw the line between which data should be public and which should be kept private?

One of our features discusses this conundrum of sensitive government information. What sort of data has been removed from the public eye, and why? Is all that data really gone, or can you still find it? Check out our cover story; you might be surprised.

What factors control whether info is classified, unclassified, or somewhere in between? We had two authors from a government information center who wanted to explain. They wrote a great article, and got it approved by their boss. It then went up to the next boss, and the next, all of whom OK'd the article for publication. Somehow, it made its way to an office in the White House where, we were told, it must go through a final review process. And then—Poof! The article vanished, never to be heard from again. (At least, not before press time.) So we all had a real-live taste of the disappearing information syndrome. It was then that I knew we weren't in Kansas anymore.

But wait! Actually, we were in Kansas, looking at another angle of Security vs. the Right to Know—filtering. One library co-op tried making filtering decisions with a local committee, and it worked so well that the system went statewide. Learn about the technical side of the operations behind Kanguard, the custom filtering system now run by the Kansas State Library.

Quickly now—soak up all the important data in this issue, before it disappears!

Kathy Dempsey, Editor

Kathleen L. Dempsey is the Editor of Computers in Libraries. Her email address is:

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