From:Elma Miller, elmami@idirect.com
Sent:January 29, 1998, 10:05am
To:Wendy Schick, Chief Librarian, schickw@bpl.on.ca
Subject:   Internet at the Library

Dear Ms Schick,

I am shocked and appalled that there are those who would wish to curtail public access to the Internet at the library.

Many schools in Burlington have web pages; the Internet is used in the classroom as an aid to expand limited resources. After all, the Internet originated as a tool for sharing research results among scientists. It's also used as a source of reference materials (e.g., Web Museum, the Gutenburg Project). It is used as a "cyber-classroom" for specialized access, from student in remote areas to professionals in subjects no longer available in the school system (e.g., music composition and theory).

If access is restricted or limited in any way, then adult users could be hampered in simply wanting to read the news. Take for example the recent scandal: Clinton's sexcapades. Articles on the US president appear in newspapers, magazines, on radio, and TV, but would be blocked on the Internet at the library if it had filters protecting children from the lurid details available everywhere else. Where does one draw theline as to what our kids see, hear, or download? It is up to the parents, not up to the librarians.

How can the library regulate what anyone should see or read? Should there also be limited access then to books containing nudes? Should volumes featuring works in the Louvre, the Vatican, and the British Museum be censored? Are writers like Mordechai Richler, Aldous Huxley, and Margaret Atwood too lewd for young minds and do we go back to a sanitized version of Shakespeare? Do we take the music of Carl Orff off the shelves because of the nasty impression it leaves of the Catholic church?

I'm a digital editor and designer. The Internet is an important link for me to international professional organizations, for information sharing, and for networking. As a composer teaching in the so-called "cyber classroom", I communicate with music students testing their newest compositions. By the way, classical music composition is not taught at McMaster University, Sheridan College, or Mohawk College - how else would these students have access to someone who does?

I also use the Internet to find weather reports, world news, general information, and e-mail. As an early member of the Hamilton Freenet, the principle of universal access to the Internet is close to my belief in breaking technological barriers. The library is an excellent place to find out what theInternet is. In my opinion, the library should remain egalitarian; give access to the entire community and be a place of discovery for inquiring minds.

Sincerely,
    Elma Miller
    Burlington, Ontario

elmami@idirect.com