Library staff prepare for a visit from President Bush and Governor Engler.
Library staff prepare a conference room for the arrival of President Bush and Governor Engler.
Library staff prepare the Community Room of the United States for the arrival of President Bush and Governor Engler.
The library staff prepare for a visit from President George Bush and Governor John Engler.
As a native of the Big Apple, Rebecca Baumgold often visited the magnificent New York Public Library. But she can't say it was a place she wanted to hole up and study or read for hours.
"It wasn't a welcoming place," Baumgold said.
At the Canton Public Library, where the West Bloomfield resident is the new marketing and communications manager, Baumgold sees a wholly different atmosphere than she experienced in New York.
"I like the community aspect of living in a small town. Having a library in my backyard is wonderful," said Baumgold, who moved to Michigan for her husband Jon's work as an ophthalmologist.
For the former magazine editor and hospital communications director, Baumgold admits marketing for a library will be a new adventure. "The concept of the library profession is brand new to me, but libraries personally have always been a part of my life," she said.
In short, Baumgold plans to put the Canton Library on the map.
"I was really blown away by the sophistication of this library," she said. "We want to be a model for other libraries in terms of innovative programs. I am impressed with the depth of resources, innovative programs and the Internet branch."
The decision to hire a marketing expert came out of the library board's strategic plan. "We want to let everyone know the various programs we have," said Jean Tabor, library director. "We want to tell everyone all the great things we do."
Even with a burgeoning circulation rate, the Canton library is much more than books and magazines. Times are changing and the library has kept up, if not outdistanced, the majority of information centers.
Baumgold's charge is to develop a marketing plan that will show the world all the neat things patrons can do at the library and with the library's Internet branch. "We're not just bricks and mortar," Baumgold added.
And that's where she comes in.
According to a survey, residents admit they don't use the library and say they don't because they do their own research on the Internet. Baumgold plans to show these residents how they just might have an easier way of it if they tapped into the library.
"We have a virtual library on the Internet. We put all those resources together so they're packaged," Baumgold said.
Get into www.cantonpl.org and you have opened up an entire new world - and right at your fingertips. Click onto the database links and a user - through the library - has accessto 40 databases. "These will take you where you want to go. You don't have to move around blindly," Baumgold said.
Librarians also have added a special Web resource guide for patrons. Users can pick from any number of subject areas including travel and leisure, health and fitness, technology and education.
"They did research on what is the best. We plan to continue adding on a monthly basis," Baumgold said.
For someone who only began her new job in June, Baumgold seems to have all library programs and activities and future plans down pat. But that's not tough for someone who started out as a a journalist with Child's Magazine, a national publication with one million circulation. She then became the magazine's health editor.
Her next adventure came with a move to Philadelphia, where she became a public relations, marketing and communications specialist with Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "I came at it from a journalist's perspective," she said. "I had the inside track."
Baumgold's passion for libraries came shining through for Tabor. "She brought with her such a passion. Her experience is great. She's very poised and bright," Tabor said.
Armed with a degree in political science from Brown University, Baumgold is applying her journalistic and research experience to her new job at the library. "I definitely like being able to look at an organization and see what's unique and valuable about it - and to get the word out," she said.
She has a list of what she wants to get the word out about. For starters, there's the library's newsletter. She wants to publish it more frequently. Brochures are in the plans on what the library has to offer. The Friends of the Canton Public Library will be yet another organization and program she will market.
"They are really doing some innovative programming," Baumgold said.
Of course, kids and teens are a whole other market.
"This is a wonderful place for kids and teens," she said. "They have ownership and independence. There is a focus on their needs. They have a room with nooks and crannies that are just for them."
For teens, Baumgold sees the library as a central meeting place. It is also a place where teens can get help. The Tutor Me program, for example, offers online homework help. "They can hook up with certified tutors. We are one of the biggest users in the entire nation."
And the list can go on. Baumgold says she welcomes suggestions: "I want to know what people what to see at the library."
Despite all the high-technology filters available in the marketplace to block certain inappropriate sites from kids and teens surfing the Internet, parents may be the very best filters available.
"Parents should sit down and browse things with their kids. They should chat about what is inappropriate and why," said Carl Miller, Canton Public Library information technology specialist.
In the wake of a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allows government to require libraries to filter all computers connected to the Internet - or lose certain federal money and grants - Miller says the answer may be as simple as a parent learning what their kids are surfing, teaching them what is inappropriate and knowing when to pull the plug.
"I think that's the answer," Miller said. "It's almost like putting kids in front of the TV and walking away."
Be Street Smart
Parents need to continually monitor what their kids are looking at on the Internet. One shot won't do. That's because those who make Web sites that offer pornography, nudity, violence and the like are pretty smart.
"Guile is the word that comes to mind. But sneaky is better," Miller said, "They try to figure out ways people can end up at their site."
Pop-ups - those little boxes that show up while you are visiting a site - are often the ones of which to wary, especially for kids and teens. That's why it is so important for parents to scrutinize their children's Web surfing, Miller said.
"People have to be street smart, especially when you are asked to provide your name and other personal information," Miller said. "It is best to be leery."
The Supreme Court ruling upholds the Children's Internet Protection Act, signed into law by former President Bill Clinton.
It requires public libraries that receive certain types of federal money to install filtering software to prevent access by minors to "inappropriate matter" on the Internet.
Library Director Jean Tabor said the ruling will have little impact on Canton.
The library uses the Bess filter software on computers used by kids and teens, and computers in public areas where children may pass and view the screens.
To allow adults access, a separate Internet room was created during the library's expansion that does not have filters on the computers.
No one under 18 is allowed in the room. And that is enforced, Tabor said.
In a second reading of the ruling, Tabor said it will have less impact than initially anticipated. The library uses approximately $11,000 in federal money for the telephone system.
Originally, Tabor suspected that would be lost. In fact, the filtering provision does not apply to telecommunication costs such as voice or data lines.
Canton will pass on federal grant opportunities in the wake of the ruling.
Tabor said that also has little impact as Canton does not often apply because of the cumbersome application process for the small amount of money that can be obtained.
The machines patrons use at the library are actually not full computers, rather just screens. "Programs run on a server. We use the Citrix system, which is a thin client solution," Miller said.
"People see things on the screen, but a computer is not connected. Our filters are on the server."
Three types of filters are available in the marketplace. One is the keyword filter, one of the earliest types available. From a list of "bad" words,documents are filtered.
But problems crop up with
[From the original article (not pictured)]
false positives - blocking something that shouldn't be as well as false negatives - blocking things that should be blocked.
"A keyword filter is not very sophisticated and easy to get around," Miller said.
The second type of filter is an image content filter that measures the percentage of flesh tones.
Again, easy to get around because a photo of a mosquito bite would be blocked because of the high percentage of flesh tone.
A woman scantily clad in a fishnet outfit, for example, could pass the filter because of a lesser percentage of flesh tone.
"There are ways to have pornography without lots of skin tones," Miller said.
A third is content filtering. In this one, humans go to sites and rate them: hard core pornography, soft core pornography, nudity, educational nudity, online gambling and game, for example. Bess the filter the library uses, is a content filter.
"Once a day, the computer is updated with new ratings," Miller said, adding you can let Bess know of any sites that need reviewing.
Parents are reminded that when accessing the Internet through the library from a home computer, the information is not filtered. "We do count on parents to monitor their children and to get filters for their home computers," Miller said.
When kids go to the library's Web page and access the kids' area, the information is purely for kids.
"The librarians are always looking for stuff for kids," Miller said.
Parents are also to be cautioned that e-mail is not filtered and of course, unsolicited e-mails of questionable content come pouring in.
"E-mail is untrustworthy," Miller said.
"Some companies manage to get your e-mail and put it on a list."
Reputable sites will honor your request to unsubscribe.
But disreputable ones will allow you to ubsubscribe and then sell your address to yet another company providing questionable e-mail messages.
Miller warns that some e-mails generate viruses.
Anti-virus software may help. "It will stop some of the flood of e-mails that go around," he said.
What possible benefit is there in setting aside a separate room - that has to be monitored - for adults to access pornography on the Internet? What possible good can come from this? What does this teach the children?
Is this all just an ego that says "I am more discerning than the rest of the country as to what the First Amendment says"? I will not use the Canton Library. I will strongly urge all my contacts within Canton to NOT support any millage for the library.
Your recent editorial on library computer Internet filters was off target. It's not about what "Big Brother" says. It's about what the community says. You, and our librarian, Jean Tabor, are in favor of turning down federal money (and using my taxes) to ensure adult access to pornography in the Canton Library. I don't think that reflects our community values. Since this is a quasi-tax, put it to a vote which would reflect our values, not just one person's. Meanwhile, as a 30-year resident, I've turned in my library card, and will actively campaign against any increase in library millage.
The Canton Public Library's method of providing filtered Internet access for children and teens, and unfiltered access for adult in a separate, restricted setting offers the best of both worlds.
That's particularly true in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last week that upholds the Children's Internet Protection Act, signed into law by former President Bill Clinton in 2000.
The law requires public libraries that receive certain types of federal money to install filtering software to prevent access by minors to "inappropriate matter" on the Internet. In other words, the federal government says: Do what we think best or you won't get the money.
Without a doubt, the board of trustees for the Canton library and Library Director Jean Tabor believe in the need to protect children and teens from life's ugly under-belly. Computers used by kids and teens and thsoe in public areas where the younger generation may pass are filtered.
Adults are another matter. Refusing adults access to whatever site they wish to access is tantamount to censorship.
Libraries are about information and the free flow of information. Whether that information is considered good or bad for the general adult population is not the issue. To ban certain Web sites from adult viewing is the same as banning certain books. Both fly in the face of the First Amendment, and an act this is adhorrent to democracy and the freedom of thought and expression.
True, the Canton library does not have a special aisle filled with pornographic materials. Nor are they likely to do that. But allowing adult unfiltered use of the computers assigned in a separate room - where those under 18 are not allowed - also doesn't mean they are traipsing in and out for their daily dose of pornography.
The issue is freedom. Freedom of thought. Freedom of choice. These are rights that come along with being an adult, a citizen, a taxpayer.
Tabor and library trustees should be lauded for hanging tough on their position to protect kids and teens, yet provide adults unrestricted access to the Internet. In a second reading of the court ruling, Tabor has found that the only thing the library will lose is its ability to apply for federal grants, something that the library does not often do because of cumbersome applications and slim chances of success.
That Big Brother wants to tell us what is right and good is not unusual. In our world of big government, however, libraries, like townships, are the institutions and forms of government closest to the people. And that is where they should remain.
Whether computers should be filtered is a decision that rests in the community where the library director and its elected board of trustees live and work, and in which they know the standards its residents want followed.
By Joanne Maliszewski
Carl Miller, Canton Public Library information technology specialist, offers some suggestions for parents who are interested in protecting their children from inappropriate material as they surf the Internet. His first suggestion, get a good filter software program. Listed below are some suggestions, with three Miller considers top notch: Cyber Patrol, Cybersitter, Net Nanny and Safe Surf. Bess, which is the filter used by the library, is a proxy server.
Miller also suggests installing a firewall. "Is it like a lead door. It is something that keeps the fire (junk) out. It can determine what is good and what isn't good." He suggests using Zone Alarm, which is a free version. Another brand is McAffee. But firewalls are not filters. "They protect against people on the Internet getting into your computer," Miller said.
Computer owners should also invest in antivirus software to protect against viruses transmitted by email.
The following are some available filter products:
* Bess - www.best.net/
* Cyber Patrol - www.microsys.com
* Cyber Snoop - www.pearl-sw.com
* Cybersitter - www.soli-doak.com
* I-Gear - www.urlabs.com
* Library Channel - www.vimpact.net
* Net Nanny - www.netnan-ny.com
* Net Shepherd - www.chronologic.ca/solu-tions/intel%20net%20filter-ing.htm
* On Guard - www.on.com
* Safe Surf - www.safesurf.com
* Surfwatch ProServer - www.surfwatch.com
* Surfwatch Add-On for MSII - www.surfwatch.com
* Websense - www.netpart.com/websense97
* X-Stop (client) - www.xstop.com
* X-Stop Shadow - www.xtop.com