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Librarianship and Online Information

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Librarianship and Online Information

Librarians also face decisions regarding library patrons’ information privacy on the Internet. Threats to online information include the USA PATRIOT Act,Error: Reference source not found cookies, COPPA, and CIPA.


Library user’s activities can be tracked using tiny text files, called cookies. Because cookies reveal where users visit, when they visit, how long they stay, what links they click, what purchases they make, and any preferences they may have set during the session, most libraries find it unethical to retain permanently the information saved in cookies.

Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) (2000)

The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), went into effect April 21, 2000 (Federal 1999). COPPA requires that commercial Web sites must have documented parental consent to collect ”personally identifiable information (including an e-mail address) from children (COPPA 2002). However, this law does not mean that librarians must reveal to a parent what a child views on the Internet, or even what a child reads.

Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) (2000)

The Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) is a law passed by the federal government in December, 2000 to speak to concerns regarding children's access to the Internet from schools and libraries. CIPA requires that institutions that receive federal E-Rate or Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funds) filter all of its Internet terminals to block access to sites defined as obscene, child pornography, or harmful to minors.

The American Library Association challenged the law in a Philadelphia district court in May 2002. The court ruled that CIPA violated first amendment rights of library users, however, the government appealed the decision. On June 23, 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the lower court decision and upheld CIPA ruling that CIPA does not violate the First Amendment.

Appendix C

McEntire’s disaster equation for information

Example problems



(Triggering Agent)



Unsealed storage room

Uncovered, unwrapped physical archives




Damaged or destroyed books, artifacts, other historically significant objects

Heating/air conditioning failure

Flood, tornado, hurricane, earthquake, etc.

Novice user

Unprotected or unduplicated files


User error: unintentional pressing of delete key


Loss or change of important document(s),

No virus protection

Virus attack


Loss or damage of important documents

Vague file security policy

Unauthorized user access


information leakage, theft of sensitive or private information

No/inferior firewall



Stolen identity, credit information theft

Faulty wiring

Power failure/surge


Loss or damage of important documents

Poor ventilation

air conditioning/ failure


Loss or damage to: documents; software; hardware

Haphazard attitude toward warning systems

Failed/thwarted warning system


Cyberterrorism (using computer networks in the service of terrorism)


Destruction and death from terrorist acts

Adversaries to information holders

Systems holding sensitive information


Information warfare


Propaganda causing destruction: denial of vital information; reception of false information

Ambiguous Information/knowledge policies/laws

Cultural differences


Cultural power struggles


Limitation of human and/or artificial knowledge (databases); inventory lists

Ambiguous/absent document/information sharing standards

Communication inoperability


Power failure/surge as a result natural hazard; terrorism; information security regulations


Missing, inaccurate withheld, or selective information

Information scarcity (i.e., Digital Divide)

No/limited access to information warning systems

Sections 215 and 216 of the USA PATRIOT Act

Accessible sensitive private information


Careless or impulsive law enforcement


Breach of anonymity, autonomy, privacy rights

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