The Denver Public Library values free and equal access to information, even when that information may be controversial, unorthodox or unacceptable to others. With its implementation of filtering software, the Denver Public Library balances its commitment to customers’ diverse interests and individual rights with the need to provide a welcoming and comfortable environment for all ages.
Why do Denver Public Library computers have filtering software?
Colorado’s 2004 Internet Protection in Public Libraries (C.R.S. 24-90-601) law mandates Internet access be filtered for customers under the age of 17. It requires that public libraries adopt and enforce reasonable policies of Internet safety that are consistent with the federal “Children's Internet Protection Act,” as amended, (P.L. No. 106-554 - PDF). In addition, we feel that accessing pornography in a public place is inconsistent with the welcoming and comfortable environment we seek to provide.
How does Denver Public Library’s filtering software work?
The filtering software blocks sites that depict pornography, child pornography or obscenity.
Who decides which sites should be blocked?
In conjunction with Library staff, the filtering software vendor uses a process combining technological and human review to make decisions about which sites are blocked.
Will children be safer using filtered Internet access?
That is the goal. However, no filtering software is totally accurate, nor is it a substitute for parental judgment and oversight. The Denver Public Library believes that the reading and viewing activity of children is ultimately the responsibility of parents who guide and oversee their own children's development. The Denver Public Library does not intrude on that relationship, except when mandated by law.
Will objectionable material based on hate or violence be blocked?
No. The filtering software is designed to block content that is pornographic or obscene in nature.
Will information on health and sexuality be blocked?
The filtering software is designed to block images and videos that depict pornography, child pornography or obscenity, not medical information or images. However, there may be instances where information has been inappropriately blocked.
If this happens, please submit your request via the Request for Reconsideration of Access to a Website form. Denver Public Library staff will evaluate the request and if deemed appropriate, will forward the site to the filtering software vendor for unblocking. The customer will then be notified of the decision within two weeks.
Does the Denver Public Library filter social networking sites and blogs?
The Denver Public Library does not filter these sites because they cannot be reliably reviewed by filtering software, and because blocking these sites completely would unnecessarily block vast amounts of inoffensive materials. The content of social networking sites has not been found to meet the Library’s criteria for filtering. Most site vendors have policies regarding appropriate use and display of content.
Parents are encouraged to explore the Internet with their children, supervise them, provide clear guidelines regarding what sites and activities are off-limits and teach their children safety rules for dealing with strangers online.
Does the Denver Public Library block sites other than those with pornographic or obscene content?
Yes. The Library restricts access to some websites with automatic downloads built into the homepage. These sites are not blocked by the DPL, but the downloads may be. If a downloaded file changes the basic configuration of the computer or the browser, the downloads are blocked because it would render the computer unusable for the next customer.
How can customers request that a site be permanently blocked or unblocked?
Customers may send requests to block or unblock a specific site via the Request for Reconsideration of Access to a Website form. Denver Public Library staff will evaluate the request and if deemed appropriate, will forward the site to the filtering software vendor for unblocking. The customer will then be notified of the decision within two weeks.
Can the filters be turned off?
The filters on computers can be turned off by staff at time of reservation. The filter will be disabled only if the blocked site is appropriate for viewing in a public space. Customers accessing the Internet on the unfiltered computers are subject to the requirements outlined in the Computer/Internet Policy.
Will customer wireless devices using DPL’s wireless Internet connections be filtered?
Yes. Filtering software is deployed for both wired and wireless Internet access.
Will the Library keep records of my computer use?
The Denver Public Library follows state and federal law regarding privacy of library users’ records and information.
It is the Denver Public Library's usual practice to erase all customer use records, except those essential for library business operations. When a computer session is ended, all information about that session is ordinarily deleted. The Library does not, as part of its regular practice, retrieve any information, including websites visited, passwords, credit card numbers, or any other information a customer has entered. At the end of the business day, all computer use and reservation records are normally erased. However, in any event, the Library will release records, including those relating to Internet usage, as required or authorized by law.
Visit DPL's Computers & Technology page for more information on the Library's computer resources.