The Eli M. Oboler Library's primary mission is to serve the Idaho State University community by providing collections and services in support of the university's educational and research mission. In addition, as the largest state-supported library in Southeast Idaho, the Library plays an important role in the development of cooperative programs and the provision of library services to the citizens of Idaho. One way in which the Library fulfills its mission is through providing access to a variety of computer-mediated information resources, including the Internet.
With the exception of certain commercial information products, such as indexes and full-text databases, the Library neither selects nor controls the contents of Internet sites. The Library disclaims responsibility for such content that may be inaccurate, incomplete, out-of-date, controversial, or offensive to some. Users are urged to question the validity of information which they retrieve from the Internet and carefully evaluate its value and appropriateness for their purposes. They should also be aware that most Internet materials are copyrighted and existing copyright laws govern their use.
The Library supports the position of the American Library Association (ALA) with respect to the principles of intellectual freedom. Those principles are encapsulated in the Library Bill of Rights, which asserts that the censorship of library materials violates the library’s obligation to provide information and enlightenment to all users and that libraries must resist efforts to abridge the rights of free expression and free access to ideas, as protected by the First Amendment.
ALA's Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF) has dealt with the special issues surrounding the use of electronic information in its publication Access to Electronic Information, Services, and Networks: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights. The fundamental tenet of the ALA's position, as stated in that document, is that "Users should not be restricted or denied access for expressing or receiving constitutionally protected speech." Constitutionally protected speech is all speech not explicitly denied such protection, e.g. libel, child pornography, etc. A corollary of this principle is that the use of filtering software to control access to the Internet is not consistent with the principles of intellectual freedom. Discussing the application of the Library Bill of Rights to Internet access in university libraries, the OIF asserts that "content filtering devices and content-based restrictions are a contradiction of the academic library mission to further research and learning through exposure to the broadest possible range of ideas and information."
The principles of intellectual freedom require that library patrons be granted as much privacy as circumstances allow when they use library facilities and materials. A lack of privacy can inhibit the free pursuit of information. Providing privacy for computer users, however, is difficult, insofar as images on a computer monitor are often publicly visible in a way in which the contents of books or magazines are not. The public nature of computer use has consequences affecting not only the privacy of the user, but also, at least potentially, the legality of that use. An Idaho State law prohibiting the public display of obscene material may apply to monitors in public locations.
The Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) requires those libraries that receive federal funding via Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grants for the purchase of computers or Internet access, or those that receive special federal E-rates for Internet access, to maintain filtering software to shield children from objectionable material on the web. The provisions of the CIPA do not apply to college or university libraries because those libraries are not eligible for either form of federal assistance. (From Intellectual Freedom Principles for Academic Libraries.)
The Oboler Library serves primarily the university community and other adult citizens, and because it is committed to providing uncensored access to information, it does not attempt to monitor or control children's access to the Internet. Parents or legal guardians of minor children must, therefore, assume responsibility for their children's use of the Internet via the Library's computers.
First Floor: The majority of public computers located on the first floor of the Library are restricted to use by ISU students, staff and faculty. These computers require a login using an active ISU ID Number and corresponding Last Name. Members of the general public may register at the Circulation Desk for use of one of four dedicated computers - time limits and age restrictions will be imposed. All public computers on the first floor provide full Internet access.
Second Floor: Public computers on the second floor are freely available to all patrons and provide access only to the Library's online catalog. (Computers in the Computer Lab, on the second floor, are not under the control of the Library. Use of those computers is governed by policies of the Computing and Communications Department.)
Third Floor: On the third floor, one computer is configured for Library online catalog use only. All other computers on the third floor are restricted to use by ISU students, staff, and faculty. Visitors with government documents or health-related questions should contact the Government Documents Librarian or Idaho Health Sciences Library staff for assistance.
In accordance with the Library's mission and with state mandate, computers are provided for the purpose of research and other educational endeavors. Therefore, excessive recreational use of the computers (e.g. game-playing), use that is entirely personal and unrelated to information-gathering (e.g. chat-room and personal email), and use for purposes of private financial gain (e.g. conducting business, eBay), is inappropriate. The Library reserves the right to require, at any time, that a computer user engaged in such activities cease doing so.
The Library reserves the right to ask any person to cease using a public-access computer if the library staff has reasonable grounds to believe that that person is violating University or Library policy. Prohibited uses of Library computers include all those that violate federal or state laws, or university regulations, or are wholly inconsistent with the Library’s goals and function. Among such prohibited uses are:
09/30/03 - Approved by University Attorney
Revised 07/20/04 - Approved by Library Administrative Council
Revised 04/29/11 - Minor correctional editing
Revised 05/31/11 - Minor correctional editing
Revised 08/30/11 - Minor correctional editing