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Magazines > Computers in Libraries > June 2016

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Vol. 36 No. 5 — June 2016
Points of View
by Dick Kaser

This issue is full of voices. Voices speaking up about privacy. Voices speaking out about security. Voices advocating for intellectual freedom and the right to speak up and out at all.

Research conducted by Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project has shown that public libraries are commonly viewed as safe places. The American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights stresses both patron privacy and intellectual freedom. And in America, the right to free speech, as embodied in our founding documents, is not only fundamental, but inalienable.

In our global society, information technology has served both as a liberator and an oppressor. The communications devices on our laps, in our pockets, and around our wrists not only enable, but expose us.

Today’s libraries face the same security risks as corporations and nations, since their networked environments are equally exposed to hacking. Plus, the longstanding notion that patron privacy is sacrosanct is increasingly at odds with technology’s capability to monitor our pursuits, profile us, and deliver information that is consistent with our desires and that supports our beliefs.

This month, I have violated the editorial tradition of this publication by not only presenting the views of practicing librarians, but also those of others who have taken positions on these subjects that may inform the debate taking place in libraries. That conversation centers on establishing the proper balance between security and privacy, while continuing to advocate free speech.

As always, the focus of this publication remains on technology, and this issue stresses how you can use it to keep your library a safe place.

Dick Kaser, Executive Editor

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