May 16, 2022

Washington Post Report: “The Next Book Ban: States Aim to Limit Titles Students Can Search For”

From The Washington Post:

Republican lawmakers across the country are proposing legislation that would target online library databases and library management technology — tools built by a half-dozen large companies that catalogue millions of books, journals and articles that students peruse for assignments.

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So far, database companies — such as ProQuest, Gale, EBSCO Information Services and Follett School Solutions — say they are tracking the spate of legislation but have no plans to make major changes to their services. In March, Follett, which provides books and library management systems to the majority of American school districts, said it would add a feature allowing parents to track and limit what their children check out from the library. Then it disavowed the idea after receiving backlash on social media.

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In contrast with those noisy debates, the recent legislative attempts to regulate online library databases have been little-noticed. And that worries Tasha Bergson-Michelson, a school librarian in Palo Alto, Calif.

Bergson-Michelson said school library databases are vital for students trying to learn about the world and to gain the data-processing skills they will need to make their way in the information-rich 21st century. She noted that the online library databases make paywalled content, such as newspaper and magazine articles, accessible to all students.

“These databases mean that any of my students, without regard for their economic background, can have access to the same intellectual and practical information,” Bergson-Michelson said. “My concern is that, ultimately, my students will find themselves in a position where they can’t access things that they care about.”

Learn More, Read the Complete Article (about 1900 words)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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