Ms Hutley was launching the most recent national survey of Australian public libraries, which also revealed that many libraries require parental consent or adult supervision for children to use the internet.
The Association and Australia’s public libraries have been keeping a close watch on internet use and content since libraries first began offering access to the world wide web.
The survey was completed in December 2005 and is the second comprehensive survey of internet delivery, use and management across 700 of Australia’s public libraries.
“We found that the use of filtering services has increased by 12% since the first survey was completed in 2002,” Ms Hutley said.
“Over 77,000 people access the internet services through public libraries every week. The survey also showed that only 2.2% of complaints received by librarians were about internet content, and that percentage covered all content issues, not just inappropriate material.”
Recent announcements by various politicians about internet access in libraries have led some in the community to believe libraries allow unfettered access to the internet, a position Ms Hutley strongly refutes.
“Libraries have a duty of care and we take this very seriously,” she said. “The Association has developed a strong partnership with NetAlert on behalf of our members as part of this responsibility.”
NetAlert is a federal government agency providing practical advice and education on internet safety to the community, with a particular focus on children. The agency works closely with the Australian Library and Information Association and is sponsoring Library and Information Week this month in recognition of their partnership.
Lara MacDonell, General Operations Manager for NetAlert, sees libraries as having a key role in internet safety. “NetAlert recognises that one of the key areas where children can access the Internet is at the public library. It’s NetAlert’s primary objective to promote a safer Internet experience for young people and their families.
“We work closely with libraries to raise awareness of the potential risks associated with Internet use, particularly for young Internet users,” Ms MacDonell said. “We have created resources specifically for librarians for their professional development and Internet safety educational materials which libraries can provide to library users.”
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