Ok, I first saw the Wyoming Libraries Mud Flap Girl in an email from one of my listservs. Initially, I thought Hmmm, cute…a little ballsy, especially for a library. But on some level, I also felt a little squeemish. Like the Cool Librarian, I’m neither a prude nor am I lacking a sense of humor but this is a tough one. I think it’s made even more difficult because I was totally disillusioned at a library staff meeting a couple of days ago.
You see, our library blocks MySpace, unless a patron is over the age of 18 and specifically asks for it to be unblocked. And I completely understand the rationale–a while back a patron from our library made contact with a girl in another county, met her and raped her. Now as a precaution against lawsuits, our library has taken to blocking MySpace.
The idea that we are blocking access to a legitimate site flies in the face of everything that I learned in library school. We are supposed to be a place where people can come and have unrestricted access to information. If we start blocking sites out of fear of what could possibly happen, why don’t we start banning certain books because of what someone may learn from reading them (murder novels, sorcery books, etc.). Why don’t we start keeping certain patrons out of the building because they look like potential killers, rapists, extortionists etc.
Maybe I’m reaching, but I’m a little peeved that our library is blocking a site because of a perceived danger while another library is using the very thing we’re hoping to keep out to sell their services, so to speak.