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Today at CPL — October 13, 2010

Canton Public Library has always been on the forefront of technology. On October 20, 1982, the Friends of the Canton Public Library gifted the library an Apple II computer in celebration of our 2-year anniversary. Since then, computers and the technology associated with them have been a huge part of the CPL experience.

For instance, when our current building opened in 1988, it featured an equipment room with computers with special tutorials for first-time users. Since then CPL has installed and upgraded a few hundred computers for patrons to use.

Sometimes, staying on the cutting edge of technology can lead to controversy. This was especially true from 1996 until 2003; when the internet was young and it was most unclear how libraries should deal with potentially-objectionable content online. Our "Cyber Kids" room gained national attention and awards for providing space for children to access the web, albeit after their parents filled out consent forms. The forms educated parents on the benefits and potential risks of using the internet, and left ultimate responsibility to the caregiver.

Later, our IT specialist Carl Miller occasionally contributed to the Canton Observer with tips for parents to protect their children online. Often, this advice centered around website filtering technology.

Website filtering software is required on all internet-connected computers in libraries that receive Federal financial assistance. When the Children's Internet Protection Act was affirmed by the Supreme Court in 2003, the Canton Observer lauded then-Director Jean Tabor for making the correct decision to filter most computers, but provide adults with unfiltered access in the Internet Lab. Not everyone agreed with this position, but this policy has withstood the test of time.