CFP'92 - Privacy and Intellectual Freedom in the Digital Library
Friday, March 20, 1992
Chair: Marc Rotenberg, Computer Professionals for
Panel: Robert Walton, CLSI, Inc.
Gordon Conable, Monroe (MI) County Library System
Jean Armour Polly, Liverpool (NY) Public Library
Steve Cisler, Apple Computing
But something else has happened in the last several months that should be particularly interesting to the people who are participating in this conference and interested in the application of the First Amendment and traditional press freedoms to the computer networks. In October this past year, Judge Peter Leisure, who's a federal district court judge in New York City, issued an opinion in a case called Compuserve vs. Cobbie. At issue in that case was a question of the publication of allegedly defamatory material through the Compuserve service. Now the question that Leisure confronted was whether to analogize the Compuserve service to a traditional publisher like the New York Times or the Washington Post, or whether perhaps to adopt a different model, like a library or a bookstore or a newsstand. The conclusion that Leisure reached in trying to find the most robust framework to promote the free flow of information was that under the traditional newspaper analysis, Compuserve might well be held liable for the publication of defamatory information. But if instead Compuserve was viewed as a library, as a bookstore, or as a newsstand, which could not possibly be responsible for reviewing the contents or the words of all the publications that they helped to disseminate, then they would not be held liable. Leisure reasoned that therefore this was the better approach to promote the flow of information in the new emerging electronic environment. I think that's a very interesting insight and may provide some guidance for how we understand the computers, freedom, and privacy world.
Let me begin now by introducing our first speaker. He is Robert Walton, the president of CLSI, the oldest and largest library automation vendor in the world, with headquarters in Newtonville, Massachusetts. Prior to assuming the presidency of CLSI, he was president of Walton-Bridge Consulting in Austin, Texas, a leading library automation consulting and marketplace research firm. Mr. Walton is well known to the library community, having over fifteen years experience as an executive automation consultant faculty member and as a writer and a librarian. Bob Walton.
WALTON: Good morning. Since we are going to try and stay on time, my ten minutes is ticking on the large $3000 tick-off clock down in the other end of the hall, so what we'd like to do is walk you through a series of slides. I've been asked to try and represent a point of view, primarily as a producer of technologies that libraries can assume, and how this might have an impact on some of the topics that we are focused on today. We'll have to dim the lights if we're going to use the slides.
If you were to go to a typical library school and try and understand the focus of what librarians are taught to do in terms of the purpose of their institutions, clearly it's a very traditional role of recognizing that the library has been primarily a place. It's not a service, it's a group of walls within which books and materials are located. We're now in the process as a profession of trying to change the image of what a library is to less of a place and more of a service.
INSERT FIG. 8-1 & CAPTION: "Figure 8-1"
Figure 8-1 is an inscription at Enoch Pratt that really is used and characterizes what most librarians view as their purpose -- that is, to be a source of wisdom, a source of information that can allow anyone of any socioeconomic bracket to have access to the world's information.
INSERT FIG. 8-2 & CAPTION: "Figure 8-2"
In contrast to that would be something I would call the indictment (Figure 8-2), and that is a statement made by a faculty member at Emory which basically says that our current libraries as institutions today are really nothing more than warehouses -- they are buildings that hold material. They remain static, they remain focused on what librarians like to do -- which is collect things, not distribute things -- and his indictment would indicate that we have the greatest amount of opportunity through the use of technology to begin to see this change.
If we were to look at my colleague vendors, the firms that supply automated systems to libraries, and how that's going to make a shift in the tone and the focus of our perspective as a profession, unfortunately we don't hold much hope that we are going to see a significant change over the near term, and it may be the long term before things begin to really focus in new and sort of broadening directions. If we were to look at high, modern, and low as the R&D dollars of library automation vendors today, most of those dollars are focused on fulfilling prior commitments which have not been met (Figure 8-3). In technology, we call that contract commitments; if we are normal people, we call it lying before you have a product.
INSERT FIG. 8-3 & CAPTION: "Figure 8-3"
The second priority is to try and adjust to what can only be called the promiscuous growth of technology--the ability to handle the variety of platforms that all types of institutions, including libraries, are desperate to acquire. The less expensive and more available they become, the more we as software providers are desperately scrambling to support as many of these platforms as possible to remain viable. If you look on the low end, where we should be investing most of our dollars in terms of broadening our emphasis, it ought to be on delivering full text, moving to expert systems, working on archival imaging as opposed to traditional text-oriented databases, and looking at things that have to do with incorporating statistical and non- textual data into the function we call a library to begin to really expand access.
Charles Hildreth, who is one of the early developers of the online catalog, really summed it up best (Figure 8-4). He says that we should be really focusing on trying to develop an online catalog, which would be an online library, where we begin to really envision our role as serving people that may never come into a building. Perhaps some of these buildings that we've invested in will simply become mausoleums of the future and not really be the focus of what we as librarians do.
INSERT FIG. 8-4 & CAPTION: "Figure 8-4"
A good example of this would have been found in the Wall Street Journal article that caught my eye. The front page article was titled, "Plug in, Sign on, and Read Milton Electronic Classic. Project Gutenberg is sending good books to computers everywhere for free." Here's an English professor at a small liberal arts college in Illinois who's tired of waiting for libraries, so he's bought a bunch of PCs, hired a bunch of students, and they're keying in full text of the classic books and distributing them over the Internet. His goal is to have as many as 10,000 titles by the year 2000 --they only have twelve titles completely done today, and at 25 per year, obviously he's got a little way to go. The interesting thing about the article was the reactions of some of his fellow faculty members at his university, and I quote one, "Are you a Communist?" (laughter)
INSERT FIG. 8-5 & CAPTION: "Figure 8-5"
If you look at the predictions of Alan Turing (Figure 8-5), the problem that we in libraries have, being fairly conservative as a profession, is that we don't believe many of the claims of what technology has to offer us as an institution. In fact, if we look back on what Alan Turing said about the things that were going to come when he made these predictions in 1950, most of the communities said, "What's wrong with you, Alan? Are you nuts?" I think we can very clearly see that those things have really come to fruition.
The second excuse that librarians use is that the ultimate drop in cost of these technologies, as publicly-based institutions, has got to stop. Well, how cheap can it really get? Surely we're going to hit a point where we can't continue to see drops in cost so that the technology can become more embraceable by the libraries that perhaps are not the wealthiest in the country.
INSERT FIG. 8-6 & CAPTION: "Figure 8-6"
The reality is that if you really look at the cost of these technologies, as probably you know as well as I, it's really in terms of the intellectual effort that goes into the design of them. It's not really the cost as focused on raw materials that go into the devices. We're reaching a point now where between 2 to 5% of the cost of most workstations is actually raw material cost (Figure 8-6), and the rest is actually the development cost and the amortization of knowledge. It's also the marketing -- it pays for the airline tickets to come speak at ACM. All of these factors that are not really material costs are added into the material, and are included in how you package and sell that particular technology.
INSERT FIG. 8-7 & CAPTION: "Figure 8-7"
If we were to look, for example, at all of the monographic publications of 1990 (Figure 8-7), including not only popular trade material, but also proceedings of conferences, academic papers, etc., there are approximately 70,000 titles published in that year. Using even today's fairly antiquated disk storage technology, a library could have full-text online storage of every publication of 1990 for about $250,000. And you can see the trend lines that develop.
Certainly if we understand the importance of time as a resource in itself, and we look at our own careers ten or fifteen years from now, libraries do have definitely within their embrace a massive amount of information that they're going to have to cope with.
This information is going to pose a number of significant problems for a library. If we look at the barriers to this type of a library situation, it's not going to be technology. Librarians still tend to focus on the technology. We as vendors encourage that because it's something we can control.
INSERT FIG. 8-8 & CAPTION: "Figure 8-8"
The real issues for a library are going to be the following (Figure 8-8): intellectual ownership of the information -- it's not simple, as you probably understand from the focus of this conference -- the issue of how publishers are going to benefit from electronic distribution as opposed to paper distribution, where they have much more control and can exercise a greater amount of security. There are a lot of legal liability issues, and there's certainly institutional egoism. As we look at the problems of networking, they're much less technical than they are a matter of institutional egos that have to begin to stop talking about "my library" and start talking about "my consortium." And then we have the obvious economic impacts, which are going to be important for many public libraries as they try and understand the impact that they're going to have in creating, not a classless society, but perhaps a more class-oriented society based upon one's ability to pay.
INSERT FIG. 8-9 & CAPTION: "Figure 8-9"
Even on something as simple as open access to the information, we haven't accomplished some of the things that we all hold to be basically fundamental in terms of our impression of what a library has, and that is free access to information (Figure 8-9). As we've seen what Bill Moffett did at the Huntington, California library with the Dead Sea Scrolls, and as we look at the way even presidential papers are restricted in terms of their access and the timeliness of their release, clearly we have a long way to go, regardless of the technology, in simply making information available. Some people think that is a technological barrier and not an intellectual one.
INSERT FIG. 8-10 & CAPTION: "Figure 8-10"
We also are going to have to understand the issue of information malpractice (Figure 8-10). For the first time, libraries are not going to be passive distributors of information, they are going to be active authors of information. They're not going to author the information itself, they are going to repackage it, they're going to develop interfaces, they're going to allow intelligent systems to guide people to conclusions based upon the way that they present that information.
Traditionally, malpractice has been something that has not been a big concern to libraries because they have been protected by the general theory that as long as you exercise some skill and are prudent in a use of a particular tool, you are not personally liable.
INSERT FIG. 8-11 & CAPTION: "Figure 8-11"
However, as we look at the traditional limitations going away, we begin to see some disturbing trends. In the last three years, there have been three cases (Figure 8-11), which we don't have time to discuss in detail now, which indicate that there are going to be liabilities for libraries and private providers of information as they begin not only to repackage information, but also when the information provided to them is inaccurate. They are going to be held responsible. Perhaps the most damning of these was the second one -- the Brocklesby case, where they repackaged FAA data and put it into graphical form using a CAD/CAM system. A pilot, enjoying looking at a map, instead of a table of data, flew his plane into a mountain that wasn't supposed to be there. Even though the FAA data was in error, even though the private library that had packaged this and produced it as an alternate tool was absent of malice, they were found guilty and had to pay not only consequential but punitive damages.
INSERT FIG. 8-12 & CAPTION: "Figure 8-12"
If we look at what's going to change this, the catalyst of improving technology is going to be important for the following reasons (Figure 8-12): we're going to see drops in costs to lead libraries that will exacerbate the issues I raised before, and we're going to see changes in policy that will put pressure on libraries to either get in or out of the information business in a more aggressive way. I think the way that we'll reach success on that will be the death or resignation of some of our key library managers. (laughter) Thank you very much. (applause)
ROTENBERG: Thank you. Our next speaker is Gordon Conable. Gordon is director of the Monroe County Library System, in Monroe, Michigan. He is vice president of the Freedom to Read Foundation, and the immediate past chair of the American Library Association's Intellectual Freedom Committee. Gordon?
CONABLE: Good morning. There's a tension that librarians deal with between the free flow of information and respect for the privacy of individuals. This conflict arises in much of what we do -- it is central to the ethical obligations of librarianship that turns many of us prematurely gray. Librarians use computers to control the circulation of their materials by matching records of the items which they hold with records of the patrons who borrow or use them. These computers can provide bibliographic access to information -- digital storage is an increasingly functional way to store and retrieve vast quantities of text. Librarians use computers to facilitate resource sharing, interlibrary loans, and document delivery; and libraries, like all other institutions in the information business, are living through the transformation of document production, publication, retention, distribution, and organization from paper to electronic forms.
The role of libraries as custodians of recorded information is being transformed. The role of librarians as organizers, mediators, and searchers is being transformed. The role of librarians as advocates of free expression is being transformed. As automation alters the way we carry out our traditional tasks -- the acquisition, organization, maintenance, and distribution of information in physical, primarily paper, formats -- we must ensure that our new methods still reflect the underlying principles which define our purpose.
Most current applications of automation in libraries are in inventory control, access, and circulation. We call the first of these bibliographic control, by which we mean the physical and intellectual description of packages of information, books, etc., for the purpose of identification of them and retrieval of them. The model is still based around the requirements of organizing and handling physical objects in print format in a manner which accommodates their storage and the browsing retrieval of them. We take books and we describe what they look like, and then we describe their intellectual content in a manner that they can be housed so that topics of the same subject matter are physically next to each other on shelves. This is labor intensive. Automation has allowed us to save a great deal of time and increase our productivity because every library in the world doesn't have to do the description independently any more.
If we were not storing things in print form, what we would have to do in terms of the retrieval mechanism and the classification and description would be very different. So, as we migrate into full text storage in electronic format, the task of organizing libraries becomes very different.
Circulation is transaction control which matches the inventory of physical objects, books -- units of information -- with an inventory of users. It's based on the old model -- we still want to issue library cards. But what automation does is enable us to gather a great deal more information about the user and the use that they make of library materials than we ever could under manual systems. And this raises serious ethical questions about the privacy of the individuals and our ability to protect the confidentiality of use of materials.
Libraries, particularly publicly-funded libraries, are institutions which derive their function and their justification from the First Amendment. The American system recognizes not only broad rights of free expression, but also a corollary right to receive information freely without government interference. This corollary right has been recognized in the courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, as necessary for free speech to have meaning. If there is no right to receive a speaker's ideas, the effect of the speech is as effectively muzzled as if the speaker were gagged. For librarians, the right to receive information without government interference also means the right to receive it confidentially. The privacy of one's thought processes and of the subject matter that one is thinking about -- the individual's proprietary right to inquiry, if you will -- is central to individual intellectual freedom.
There is an increasing array of attempts to attribute exposure to certain types of expression with a causation of criminal or antisocial behavior. This is the Ted Bundy theory of criminal responsibility: I read Playboy, therefore I raped and murdered. This theory is being embodied in pending federal legislation, in state legislation, in tort claims, and in creative criminal defense. Fortunately, American case law still rejects the notion that "monkey see monkey do" is an enforceable legal principle or an adequate criminal defense. However, there are increasing and persistent attempts to validate this simplistic explanation of disturbing, frightening, or threatening behavior. This reinforces the notion that the right to privacy of information use is a necessary protection if free inquiry is to continue to exist. For if we judge each other by what we assume to be the consequences of what we read, we surrender a crucial element of our freedom.
In an era where information resources are indistinguishable from economic resources as a basis for power, libraries are one of the few leveling forces in the society. This happens to be consistent with Andrew Carnegie's dream, which motivated him to give a lot of money to establish public libraries in this country in the first place. Carnegie felt the library was the institution which would enable the common person to lift himself up by his bootstraps -- the gender is not a mistake in the case of Andrew Carnegie -- and what he meant was that the information would allow the individual to achieve economic accomplishment in the society. That's why Carnegie thought it was important that libraries be free, that there was a public good in making it possible for anyone, regardless of his or her means, to have access to the information which would economically empower them, or politically empower them. This only works if libraries continue to be supported as a public good, without fee and without charge -- tax support of these services, and keeping of them open for all, without fees.
The change in technology makes this hard to maintain because the economics of electronic information are different from the economics of print information, and there's a political transition that libraries are having some difficulty making. Two recent court cases reinforce the perception of the importance of the free public library and the right to access of information, if freedom is to continue to remain in this country. One of those is a case in Morristown, New Jersey in which the library passed regulations which limited the rights of an indigent person to access that library. The case has had a lot of media attention, but the judge in the case, a federal court judge, ruled that the right to receive information in the library was a First Amendment right, and that government regulations which basically excluded people for arbitrary, capricious, or economic reasons had imposed upon their First Amendment right to receive information. The case is on appeal, but if the basic principle is upheld, a large blow will have been struck for the principle that the government has a function in providing access to information to all, regardless of means. And if that is so, the strength of America's libraries will have been substantially reinforced.
The other case is not one about which I feel so optimistic, and that case, I think, was referred to by Robert Peck yesterday -- Rust vs. Sullivan -- which arose out of abortion controversy, but basically has established at the Supreme Court level a legal principle in this country that funding dictates the content of speech, and that if the federal government gives you a dime in any way, they can dictate what you say, and they can muzzle what you say. This is an extremely disturbing precedent because it says that the power of the purse to control speech is now established as the law of the land, and it is just beginning to be applied in areas other than abortion. This is the first major inroad of federal enforcement of politically-correct speech, and it is ironic that this court ruling came out in the same week that President Bush made a speech decrying politically-correct speech on campuses.
There are other issues that libraries face in relation to automation and that relate to the privacy of patron use. One of those has to do with database licensing, since some databases are licensed with the expectation that the users of those databases be limited by some sort of characteristic. There are business databases which cannot be marketed to labor organizations. Libraries which do not screen their users by these kinds of classifications are faced with a dilemma if they buy into those kinds of licensing agreements.
Another issue that I want to mention is the question of archival integrity. A book is printed, and while books do not last forever, they have some permanence -- once the words are printed on the page, they remain that way until another book is printed. Electronic information is much more malleable, creating a problem that librarians are sensitive to -- that if you can change the text electronically and rapidly, revisionists have a powerful new tool. If we are to have any kind of a permanent record of what we were thinking at any given time, this is an issue which will have to be confronted and dealt with.
Librarians have addressed and thought for 100 years about many of the issues which are being discussed at this conference. We have promulgated opinions, policies, interpretations, and statements on these subjects; we have been concerned about the protection of the content as much as we have about the technological delivery of the information. Many of the people in this room are coming to these subjects from the point of view of technological delivery of information. As you address the implications of the technology upon the content of the information, which is after all the most important part of it, come and talk to us. We know a great deal about it; we've written some things about it. This is our intellectual freedom manual -- the fourth edition will be out in June. Buy it, you'll find some things that apply. Thank you very much. (applause)
ROTENBERG: Our third speaker is Jean Armour Polly, who is the assistant director for public services at the Liverpool Public Library. She has been a strong advocate for public technology in libraries, and is a member of five of the sponsoring organizations of this conference. She is also a co-host of the Apple Library Users Group SIG on the WELL.
POLLY: You guys get to guess which five I belong to. I think you can probably guess. I thought that I had fifteen minutes; I discovered I have ten, so I'm just going to whip through these overheads, and we're going to talk just a little bit. If you see anything that you're real interested in, give me a call or send me E-mail.
INSERT FIG. 8-13 & CAPTION "Figure 8-13"
Everybody always wants to know, well, where in the world is Liverpool Public Library, and Figure 8-13 shows you. We're in the central part of New York state, in NYSERNET country. Oh, and I'm supposed to say that the ALA -- American Library Association -- does have an 800 number: 1-800-530-8888. You can call us toll-free and get all sorts of cool information on intellectual freedom and all of our publications. (audience interruption -- "wrong number") Oh, that's what they gave me -- what is the number now? 1-800-545-2433. Thank you --an update, version 2.0.
INSERT FIG. 8-14 & CAPTION "Figure 8-14"
Figure 8-14 showsthe top ten factoids of Liverpool Public Library in the computing era, the last ten years. We're celebrating ten years of public computing, we've got a public lab, we've got seven or eight computers of all varieties and flavors, Macs, PCs, Apple-IIs, what-not, we've got a lot of stuff there. I don't have time to tell you all about it. Since 1984, we've been circulating software for home use. We've got about 1500 titles, and, of course, multiple copies of those titles. We are in full compliance with the Computer Software Rental and Loan Act of 1990 -- we don't have time to talk about it. We have a staff LAN, we have lots of people in our computer department. We're very unusual for a public library, and we like to think of ourselves as a center of the public computing universe in libraries in America. (laughter) Let's see, we do a lot of nontraditional services -- we do file transfer, we do scanning, and we do serve the patrons. We get a lot of people who come in and say, "My entire life is on this disk, and I have no backup." We help them out.
We run our own Apple Library Apple users group there at the library, and we have about 150-some members now. We have free membership, we have meetings and newsletters and what- not. We ran a public electronic bulletin board -- I'm going to talk about it on the next view-graph. We had a free public site to take advantage of the GENIE Desert Storm E- mail free service that they ran during the Desert Storm conflict, and I think we were the first public library to offer that service in a public setting. Subsequently, several others picked up on that. We also ran Operation Oasis, which was an airlift that the computer department ran. I don't know why the computer department ran that -- we have a lot of strange people in our department. We did three airlifts with 60,000 pounds of stuff, including 13,000 books and games, puzzles, you name it, we sent it. We're a Library of Congress American Memory beta test site -- I don't have time to talk about it. This is a wonderful project and I'll be happy to send you more stuff on it. Basically, it's an interactive video disk out-of-the-archives-and-into-the- streets type of thing of original materials for people to use. We're an Apple Library of Tomorrow test site, and of course, the number one factoid is that we are the smallest public library with an Internet host. Running out of time here.
Just briefly, we ran the electronic bulletin board. We were the first library east of Chicago to run one. There were really no BBSs in our area, which is why we decided to fill the void, plus we thought there should really be a publicly- run BBS opportunity for people to share information. In our area, and I'm sure this is true in your areas too, there are boards that are run by people that may or may not support the Constitution. So we decided, seeing that we've had this 100 years of experience with the Constitution and intellectual freedom, that it would be a real good idea for the library to run one. Well, actually the dates I showed were wrong. We ran it for about two and a half or three years before we finally took it down. During that time we pretty much experienced all the intellectual freedom issues known to man, or to woman, as the case may be. We let anybody come in and use the computer, home computer, or any kind of computer could come in. We let people use online pseudonyms, but they had to give us their real names. We posted our rules and regs in the welcome message so everybody knew when they came in the door what the deal was. We didn't allow any kind of illegal activities discussed, and there would be no profanity. How did we get around that? The particular software we ran had an obscenity filter in it (laughter), which meant that we had to have a meeting to figure out all the obscene words that we knew. (laughter) Well, it was a fun meeting, and not something that they taught me in library school (laughter), but it made for an interesting meeting, as I said. We hadn't allowed for people that could swear but could not spell. (laughter) We also didn't realize that you could be really dirty without ever spelling a word out in its entirety and our parser was not that sophisticated.
INSERT FIG. 8-15 & CAPTION "Figure 8-15"
Figure 8-15 lists some of the stuff we had on the night shift BBS, and one of things that we did grapple with was religious fanatics on the board. Now we ran this, keep in mind this was mid-80's, a 48K Apple II Plus with three disk drives. Now I'm not talking 1.2 gigs here -- I'm talking 5-1/4-inch floppy drives. Remember those? There was a certain amount of space that we allotted to message bases, and once that filled up, it would delete the oldest messages. Well, in an evening, if you had a particular ax to grind, you could pretty much fill up the message base and take up all the publicly-accessible space. Well, this wasn't good, and one of the groups that was doing this was a particular religious group which shall remain nameless unless you catch me in the hall later. (laughter) These folks decided that they would fill up all the message boards every night with copyrighted material. Well, that was our out. We did not allow copyrighted material on the board, once we found out it was copyrighted. Another thing that happened was people did not want to read this information, so we gave this particular group their own message board and people could either go there and read it or not go there and read it. We called it the 200 Club (laughter) because in the Dewey Decimal System, the 200 range is for religion and philosophy. (laughter) Well, librarians have a sense of humor, and in Cyberspace we have to do this too. Anyway, what pulled the plug on this finally was that we had a proliferation of boards in our area, and time and resources. Of course, libraries never have enough of either. But the third thing was what really pulled the plug -- it was the specter of government regulation that scared us off. We didn't want to be a test site to test a case for the FBI, although now I find out if I had just encrypted my files, I probably would have been okay. We didn't want to be a place where pedophiles could solicit children, so after upholding our public-spirited principles for so long and so well, we gave up with a whimper.
But we're not gone forever. Recently, a year ago, our mid- level regional came to us and courted us, and we got married to the Internet. How am I doing on time? Oh, pretty badly.
What did this experience teach me? Well, acquire what people want, make everything available to everybody, and make it free to come in the door and look, give everyone library cards but get some ID first, don't let people appropriate your materials without your knowing about it, if they screw up there may be a fine, let them know that, if you break something tell someone, and don't use library materials in the bathtub. (laughter)
Okay, what am I doing with my Internet connectivity? Well, I'm doing a whole bunch of cool stuff-- I'm FTP-ing all over the place, I'm telnetting into probably your sites, but my real thing is--I want to get my library clients interested in what they can do with networking. I want them especially to ask for public access to the NREN because if they don't ask for it, they probably won't get it. Well, much has been made of this public on-ramp to this data highway, but we need more than just the on-ramp. We need the travel brochures, we need the rest stops, we need the AAA of networking. I don't know who's going to be providing that service. It may be public libraries, it may be mid-level regionals, it may be NSF, it may be a combination of all of those things.
I'm concerned about the GPO Window project -- I think it's going to be wonderful, it's a one-stop shopping for government information. But I'm concerned about it and I wanted to ask this question yesterday and didn't get a chance to. A few years ago, the IRS decided to stop the mass distribution of its forms, and they decided to dump this on libraries. This particular thing has caused libraries many problems indeed. We distribute at our library about 70,000 forms every year. Well, we have to pay somebody to order all those forms early on, and distribute them; we have to figure out some way to keep it staffed there and keep the items stocked that people want. And it really has created quite a burden for us. A few libraries nationally have decided not to provide this service at all, but that's difficult when the patrons are banging down the door asking, Well, why don't you provide this? They're even asking me in New York, well, why don't you have state forms for California? (laughter) I mean, you wouldn't believe what people want. Well, I'm concerned that GPO Windows may just say, well, here's all this cool electronic information. Where's my public's on- ramp to that? Are they going to give me network connectivity? Are they going to give me equipment? I think they've got to think about this stuff, too, not just create the information and then not give me a way to get it.
Okay, really fast, as we know, it's the electronic frontier and, of course, pioneers often have to deal with harsh environments. Well, we've got to humanize that, and I've got permission here from Mr. Cerf to talk about that all pioneers have to deal with this harsh environment, but around the campfire of a glowing off-hook light, we need to see bards like Vint Cerf delivering his soliloquy "Rosencrantz and Ethernet": (laughter)
Come to store and forward in the queues a while and then are
Heard no more. 'Tis a network waiting to be switched!
To switch or not to switch? That is the question.
'Tis wiser in the net to suffer the store and forward of
Stochastic networks or to raise up circuits against a sea
Of packets and, by dedication, serve them.
To net, to switch. To switch, perchance to slip!
Aye, there's the rub. For in that choice of switch,
What loops may lurk, when we have shuffled through
This Banyan net? Puzzles the will, initiates symposia,
Stirs endless debate and gives rise to uncontrolled
Flights of poetry beyond recompense. (applause)
If I could just take one more minute, not only that, but we've got Emily Post News, foremost authority on proper net behavior:
- "Dear Ms. Post News: How long should my signature be?" "Dear Verbose: Please try to make your signature as long as you can-- it's much more important than your article, of course, so try to have more lines of signature than text. Try to include a large graphic made of ASCII characters plus lots of cute slogans and wisdom. Be sure to include a complete map of Usenet which needs .signature to show how anyone gets mail to you for any site in the world. Include Internet gateways and how people on your own site can mail to you."
Okay, really fast, I just want to make an announcement that we have indeed humanized the network to the extent that Elvis has an E-mail account at my house. (laughter) You can write to him at LPL.ORG. Well, I guess I've taken up all my time here -- I just want to say that we got NREN okay, now we need money for the K through 12 sites in the public libraries, which will give the rest of us the access. Telecommunications helps us overcome what has been called the tyranny of distance and we do have the global village. How are we going to use it?
And this is my last thing, I promise you, Marc. One illustration of the power of the net, which I think we all have to keep in mind, a lot of us last fall got an E-mail from Dave Hughes, who's not here so I can talk about him. Dave Hughes sent an E-mail to all of us and said, put down your cursor, call up Gore's office -- here's the number --and lobby for K through 12 funding for NREN. Well, later I asked Hughes how it went, how many phone calls did you generate? He said that he read the observation by the Houston reporter at 10:00 PM, he'd posted his reaction by 1:00 AM, and the deluge hit Gore's office by noon -- 14 hours. He doesn't have a count, but judging from the reaction, by 2:00 PM on the working day, a senior Gore official called him and asked him to call off the dogs (laughter). He posted on five systems -- the WELL, Metanet, Echo, Compuserve, Comprivate -- Rendiscussion on the Internet, and in Roger's Bar on his own system. It must have been in the score of calls, I would say the hundreds of calls, and it was made more significant because they were from so many different places, so many different people, not affiliated with each other in any way other than interest in the issue. He says it's a verification of Toffler's reference to "adhocracy" replacing bureaucracy -- people forming up around a task or issue, then dissolving again out into Cyberspace, something networks make possible in spades. And I think librarians and other Internauts like those of you in this room, have to become advocates of advocacy. On the net you can either be a signpost, a roadblock, or a line noise, and I would encourage all of you to get involved by joining a listserv, getting involved with Compuserve or the WELL or CPSR, and join EFF and all of those organizations. Don't just put your notes away and think that the conference is over, because it's just beginning. Thanks. (applause)
ROTENBERG: That was wonderful, Jean, thank you. I'm going to offer a slight correction now, because I've heard the story of that phone call between Gore's aide and Dave Hughes as well, and I don't think the word that Gore's aide would use would be "called" -- I think he would say probably instead, "begged and pleaded," because it was quite a response.
The next speaker is Steve Cisler, and Steve is the senior scientist at Apple Computer Library. He works with the information retrieval projects at Apple and also the Apple Library of Tomorrow research grants. Steve?
CISLER: Thanks very much, Marc. You may have noticed in the news last night, or perhaps this morning, that the postal director of Congress resigned because of inappropriate perks for Congress. I have a number of overdue record notices for Newt Gingrich, for George Bush, and Bob Dole, and James Billington is going to ... Well, let me stop it right here. (laughter) Because of privacy concerns.
Bruce Sterling has written about offshore data havens, and I'd like you to think of libraries, especially public libraries, as sort of privacy havens. I'm going to talk about an incident that I, as a public library user, would like to share with you.
In the September 1991 Scientific American issue on networks and computing, Mark Weiser wrote about ubiquitous computing. At Olivetti in England, researchers are wearing small devices that perform some simple tracking and call forwarding functions that will benefit the researcher as well as that person's colleagues. I learned the other day from a member here that the lunchroom at Olivetti has both a privacy area and a connected area, where if you are wearing these small devices you can be traced. Or, if you want to eat or chat or read a book in private, you can. I like to think of the library as a place where you can connect up to the word of electronic and print information, but still retain a good deal of personal privacy and be assured that others won't be able to find out what you read, viewed, or the questions you asked the reference librarian, be that a person or a software surrogate.
Although I don't work in public libraries any more, I still use them. There are several county branches and a city branch within about a fifteen-minute bike ride, and some member of our family goes to one of these every couple of days. At the checkout counter of the Saratoga Library there is a posted notice reminding people that all library records are private, and they cited the California civil code number.
My own awareness of privacy issues changed after attending the CFP-1 conference. Last spring I had written an article for the Library and Information Technology Association covering issues of privacy and reuse of personal data by the American Library Association and other related issues. So I called the county librarian of Santa Clara County, a woman named Susan Fuller, to see if there was really any story behind the poster that was so prominent. What follows is really a summary of articles in the San Jose Mercury News, conversations with Fuller and Lani Yoshimura, the branch librarian in Gilroy, who's also very active in an intellectual freedom committee in California, as well as a letter from Gary Strong, the California state librarian. And I think it shows the way censorship is tied to privacy issues in libraries. It also raises the issues of industry standards at odds with First Amendment concerns, freedom of choice, and the role of citizen watchdog groups in how our public institutions are run.
In September 1990, a magic shop owner by the name of Steve Dawson, whose establishment was very near the Milpitas Branch Library, noticed that a kid had a video of "Beverly Hills Cop." He was really shocked to find out that the kid had checked it out at the library nearby. "Beverly Hills Cop" is R-rated, but you should keep in mind that the MPAA system of rating movies is not accepted by the library community. This is a motion picture industry standard and it really takes the decisions of what is appropriate and suitable for a child out of the hands of parents and puts it in the hands of theater owners and groups such as Blockbuster or Warehouse. A lot of people accept it as law, but it is by no means that.
Now the county library has an open access policy that allows anybody to get a card and to check out any circulating materials. What's more, no parent can request to see the circulation records of a child, or for that matter, a spouse. The library's policy is that it's up to the parent, or parents, to establish values and guide their child, but that the child has rights to privacy. Anyway, Dawson, the magic shop owner, argued against this stand at the Library Commission meeting later that year -- this is in 1990 -- and again at the County Board of Supervisors. The San Jose Mercury News in an editorial initially backed Dawson's idea that a parent should okay their kids' use of R-rated films. Librarians really unanimously opposed this, and the newspaper used rather different standards for judging books than for movies. The newspaper had also been writing in support of 2 Live Crew in Florida at that time, but they'd withheld support for an issue much closer to home. Naturally, the newspaper backed access rights to printed material, but it kind of weaseled out of the same standards for non-print. Later, the editorial committee at the newspaper narrowly changed its view and decided that since kids could see "Fatal Attraction" or "Robocop" on TV, messing around with the library system just to keep them from getting at the movies was not worth it, so they sort of came around to the library stance.
The County Board of Supervisors had a really large meeting, and they voted 3-2 not to support Dawson's plan. Then they had a unanimous vote to support the library's open access policy. The reason for the difference in the vote was that part of the previous split vote was really due to Dawson's own board member supporting his constituent's plea. Now the county library sends out a notice now to parents of underage cardholders and reminds them of the open access policy and what kind of freedom that means for their kids. The parent may ask to have the card revoked, but it's only for a 6-month period, and the child can go back and get a card again without the parents' permission, so it's really sort of all or nothing. So far, though, nobody has elected to have their child's card revoked.
Dawson was not pleased with this compromise or with the decision of the board, so he wrote to Governor Wilson, who turned the letter over to Gary Strong, the California state librarian, who replied to the owner of the Magic Touch. In his reply, he reiterated the library profession's views on labeling, on restricting access, on providing the widest range of materials possible, and on the need of parents to talk with children to impart values, etc.
I was really impressed with the support within our community, within the library community, and a bit surprised about the San Jose Mercury News waffling on the issue. But I was very proud of my own library's commitment to the privacy of even young library users. And what's important is a consistent system of support from our national organization, our state library, the county library, and on down to the grassroots level. So that's one reason why it's really nice to work inside the library system.
I now work in a library in the advanced technology group at Apple, and we work, as Marc said, with information retrieval projects, with the grant program -- by the way, we support Project Gutenberg and we're doing a new project with the Dead Sea Scrolls that will be very exciting -- and we perform typical corporate library tasks, such as online literature searching. We also have a large user group with 17,000 members, and we have a 100-page quarterly magazine. As you can imagine, we've had a lot of requests for our list of subscribers, both from sales and marketing people inside the company and from third-party vendors outside. But we believe, as I learned really at the last conference, that, as Alan Westin predicted, most databases of personal information will be consensual. So ours is right now and we haven't given it out to anybody except other librarians who wanted to start a local users group in the area. So I was a little annoyed to have my own professional association sell mailing labels with my name and address to other vendors, even after I wrote on the application form not to do so. While I can't get angry at a data clerk who ignores such a plea, I did write the director and after many months, I did get a response. Then I got even more response when they found out I was going to be doing a little talk on this. (laughter) But really, let me hasten to say that you can opt out, you don't have to have your information sold to vendors. I'd prefer to have an opt-in box, my own Peace Corps volunteer group in northern California has that. But, it's a consideration of revenue flow within a non-profit group.
On the WELL, Kevin Kelly, former editor of the Whole Earth Review, recently posted a very timely treatise on privacy as a commodity. He said, "Information is so valuable that even its absence is worth something. We are in the first days of a great awakening as ordinary citizens realize that ordinary information about themselves is something one can sell or save." And he made these predictions: government will slowly weasel out of the business of being a guarantor of privacy. The middle class will have the least privacy, partly because the rich can afford it, and the poor won't really use the instruments of credit that deprive many of us of privacy, and the information commons, that place where information is pooled to be shared, will become endangered and those that survive will do so by endogenous self-government, rather than national policies. And then finally, he said, "the co- evolution of privacy and information will take place according to the rules of the private sector." Now, I find his essay provocative, but I still firmly believe that the library, especially the public library system, will continue to be an information commons, a protector of privacy and a counterforce to those practices of direct marketing professionals who believe they are doing us a favor by narrow casting electronic text, print material, and in the future broadband network video and sound messages. Thank you very much. (applause)
ROTENBERG: We have time for questions, if people would like to go to the mikes -- there are three mikes out. Rick?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I'm Rick (name inaudible). I'm very sympathetic and supportive of the attempts of the library community to get themselves involved with NREN. But one thing has always puzzled me a bit. Given the Supreme Court decision about abortion counseling, given the political climate and the attacks on the National Endowment for the Arts and so on, isn't the library community a little concerned about pushing for federal subsidy of a national infrastructure?
CONABLE: Well, I mean that question suggests that the battle is over and that we've lost. I don't know that that's the case. There was small glimmer of hope in the Rust decision -- the Chief Justice in writing his opinion wrote an exception for the university, asserting that it was such a traditional marketplace of ideas that applying the strings over content restrictions in the university would be inappropriate. Now I happen to think that fit the political agenda of the President, who was bashing politically-correct speech at the moment, but I would hope that we will be successful in asserting and establishing that libraries fit within that loophole as well. That's really the fight of the next two or three years of greatest significance in this area, but I'm not ready to concede it yet and we could use your help in winning it.
ROTENBERG: Yes, sir?
KIM: My name's Gene Kim, I'm a student at Purdue University. Yesterday in the FOIA discussions, various library officials, representatives, expressed their enthusiasm for being the vehicle of delivery for government documents. I guess my question is directed to Jean Armour Polly, where she expressed some annoyance at being the vehicle for delivery for IRS forms. I'm wondering what you see as the library's role in the future for serving the rest of the public sector and the rest of us.
POLLY: Well, we need to do it, of course, but how is that impacting my local taxpayers who are paying the salaries and what not? That was the whole problem with the IRS stuff, just that it was such an impact on us just to provide the service well. I mean, sure, you can just order a few of the normal forms, and then they give you whatever the IRS number is, which is all the reproducible tax forms, but a lot of people don't want to do that, they want the actual form in hand. And like I said, I gave out 70,000 forms last year. I don't know that that's part of our mission, I guess, but it would have been nice if the IRS would have given us some money to do that. They just take it away and it's left to us to sort of pick up the pieces. We're out there in the front lines -- they're down here, insulated, or they're at the end of a dial tone with a busy signal, and we're out there. So yes, GPO Window, I want to have it, I want it yesterday. I've got a terminal, I've got connectivity, but I'm the only one --there are about five public libraries on the Internet.
CISLER: Also, having just connectivity and even a nice workstation won't be anywhere near enough to handle GPO Window. There has to be a vehicle for internal support to allay the concerns of the librarians. I visited with some of the document librarians about a year and a half ago when the Window proposal first came up, and they were really already tired by the problems they were facing at that time. There's going to have to be a lot more thought than just about the hardware and the networks, but about internal support for the plans, especially if the plans are top down.
CONABLE: There is a precedent, however, for fiscal support. My library happens to be one of six public libraries in the country which is a depository of all of the publicly- available data from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and we have a nice little contract with the federal government -- they pay us to provide that service. All we have to do is get that applied to the GPO Window proposal and to the IRS forms and the rest of those sorts of things and then we will be very happy to handle it. We'll be able to handle it.
WALTON: I'd like to add that I hope libraries won't resist this trend, actually. We can talk about funding a particular project, but what we fail to realize is that libraries have been the primary distribution point for federal documents for probably the last 100 years. There's something called regional and selective depository collections now in paper form. We're spending tens of millions of dollars on just the paper documents that we're trying to store, and we're building huge warehouses to hold them until they become more accessible to electronic means and better access points. Government documents are not a terribly friendly nurturing system to use (laughter), and there needs to be an increased ability to have access to them-- this is now becoming an issue, because people are beginning to see government documents as a real opportunity and a resource for them. The concern I have is that we are beginning to see only a few libraries take a very strong leadership position in using them, and I'll use one as an example. Gonzaga University, which is a private Catholic college in Spokane, Washington, received a $10 million grant from the Department of Agriculture to provide information of the Department of Agriculture to the inland Northwest. So we're not even talking about library funding agencies of the federal government contributing to that process -- that was done because they had a very strong visionary at that particular institution. Here we have one of the largest single grants given to a library that I'm aware of going to a private Catholic college.
FREEDMAN: I'm Maurice Freedman, and I'm from the Westchester Library system. A couple of points, one just in response to that last comment. There are depository libraries -- land grant universities and several major public libraries --whose job is to make available all government documents. They get complete depository status, the documents go to them to make them available to the public. The electronic doorway is going to solve all kinds of problems for those libraries-- storing them, creating access to them, cataloging them. All these miserable manual library problems in many respects will be mitigated or done away with through the electronic window. Now, the Liverpool Public Library isn't one of those depository libraries, but the depository libraries, it is anticipated, will get support and certainly will get free access to them. Now the libraries are going to have to do the staffing and all the rest of it, but the major university libraries have all kinds of online systems and online searching capacities already. I think they'll welcome it.
Okay, the number that Jean Polly gave originally was at my request, it is 1-800-530-8888 -- we're begging of you, if you care about the public having a right to know, we're asking people around the country to call that number and say you believe in library service, you want library service, and you want it to be better funded. That's 800-530-8888, my name is not Jerry Brown. (laughter) The 800 number is a number that was set up for National Library Week and is lasting for the next two or three weeks, and we're trying to get people to call. The president of the Association, who was supposed to be here and who I replaced on the program yesterday, said they are getting tons of calls and don't have enough money to add 800 lines (or however that's handled), because the volume is so terrific. Please call and register your support of libraries. Your name is being taken, (laughter) and forwarded to your Congressperson, and being given as your support, so it's real important that you as a voter do this in support of libraries.
I'd like a last comment -- forgive me, or indulge me in this -- in relation to Bob Walton's comment that libraries will be dead as we know them. I guess I've been involved with technology and computers since 1968, but I always get thrown into a Luddite position. Let me ask three different people here for information, and each of them offers to give me the information in response to my giving them my Internet number. I don't have an Internet number. The overwhelming majority of the people in this country do not have Internet numbers. It's going to be a while before you find most people in this country communicating over the Internet or NREN. Okay? And the public library also contains this thing called a book. Technologically, it's idiocy to have people typing full text in when there's scanners that can do it a lot more accurately and quickly than someone keying. But it took about 1500 years to develop really good means of putting information on a page, and we've had printing since somewhere around the 800's when it was invented in China. Reading a book, a printed page and all the rest of that, is far better than the displays we have now on our screens, and there are certain kinds of things, like novels, poetry, all the rest of that ilk, that you're still going to want in hard copy. And I don't know that the laser's going to do the job, either. But in any case, we're not quite dead yet, and there's a function even in the electronic world for guidance and help -- people can't make it through those electronic databases and all the rest of it without a lot of guidance, and we're there to offer it. And those who can't afford to pay, the public library's making them available at no charge and no fee.
WALTON: Mitch and I have argued about this for years. I'm not saying the public library is dead; what I'm saying is if you want a very good treatise on what I was trying to do, there's a good summary by a man named Clement Bezold, who made a presentation at the White House conference. He's from DC Institute of Alternative Futures. He gives three scenarios for the future of public libraries -- I'm not talking about the next few years, I'm talking about through the year 2030 -- and he says that, unfortunately, public libraries are not getting with it, and they'll be left behind because of the way the technology is developing and the ability of people to pay for information.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: The 800 number that Mitch Freedman gave is the number to call for this current program in support of libraries. The other one is simply the 800 number for the American Library Association.
ROTENBERG: See, this is why Jerry Brown put it on cardboard. (laughter) So there would be no confusion. It's also why the newspapers blacked it out. Jean?
POLLY: I just wanted to say one thing about GPO Window. It's true that we've got these depository libraries, but a few of them are in large urban public libraries, and the other ones are in university libraries. They're really not serving my patron. My patron's out in the sticks, really, and I want to be able to get to GPO Window right from my reference desk, and I want them to be able to call in right from home, too. I think the public library better position itself, though, because otherwise reference service as we know it is going to be gone. People are going to be able to get this information without ever calling me, although I think that you're right, the public library is probably going to be helping people find their way through the Internets and providing these tour guide functions.
ROTENBERG: We have just about twelve minutes left, so I'm going to ask people if they can ask short questions or brief statements.
GLENN TENNEY: I will make no statement other than to ask two quick questions. We agree that libraries are being bled to death -- there's a funding question here. You mentioned depositories -- right now one depository in California has online access to the Patent Office. That does not serve the needs of any state that large. You can have one library with access -- how do we do it? Do we go and get a grant for one depository which then covers an area that it can't cover? Or do we try to say simply that the federal government should fund all libraries in the entire country and support them? Period. A funding question here. My library's shortening hours, the library itself is going into the information broker business seeking out business in the area in which we live, and selling their services. Is that the way we're going to do it? Question on funding. The second question is how can we get the libraries -- simple question -- to online catalog so I can dial in? It's not a funding question, because I volunteered to my library to do it for them for free, and they said, Well, we're thinking about it, it will be a few years yet. So -- the two questions. How do we do that?
CONABLE: Well, the funding is a problem and there isn't an answer because this country is in the process of trying to dismantle the public sector. It's trying to dismantle the public sector because everybody thinks they're entitled to buy their way out of the public sector because the public sector is deteriorating to the level that it's useless to the people who can afford the alternatives. The only way you can afford the alternatives is to buy them privately, and that means that you don't want to pay taxes to support them for the public good. It's a vicious cycle and a very serious problem. I think we need to start thinking about the implications of that because it will eventually come home to roost. It is coming home to roost, and I don't have a real good answer for that one, but we need to start addressing it. The other answer is that the public libraries have traditionally and historically been locally supported, and in fact, most of their money in most of the country comes from the local level. The issue here is that there are some opportunities available to us that the current governing structure and local tax bases are probably inadequate to support. So we have to start looking at what those things are and if we can build a politically salable rationale for funding some of these kinds of advancements at either the state level or the federal level. The problem with the higher levels of government is that the further away from the roots that you get, the more strings there are attached. Given my pessimistic view of the current administration's information policy, I don't know how we're going to reconcile this. So, I don't have a good answer, but I recognize the problem.
WALTON: I have a quick answer. Having worked for fifteen years with over 300 libraries doing projects before I came to CLSI, I have never worked with a library that had money. I have never been in a library that said they had money. So if we're going to abdicate the future because we're waiting for Santa Claus to come and give us additional funding, we might as well just forget it. The way we're going to move ahead is through entrepreneurship, which has been growing in libraries -- management entrepreneurship where you get people who are not held by the traditional bounds of what they've been told they can't do. They begin to develop innovative projects, and from those you begin to build the capability and recognition by the public that certain things are an important part of the library. Wal-Mart wasn't built overnight. It took 20 years, and I think that as libraries and specific institutions have great success with some of the kinds of things we've heard about in Liverpool, for example, other libraries will become impressed with this. They will begin to investigate it and they'll eventually grow. But it's going to take time.
CISLER: I'd like to say to Glenn that I think you could easily start a very local campaign in the online community to get people to put pressure on the county or San Mateo City Library, and I think they would listen to that. Also, all their colleagues up and down the San Francisco peninsula are online so there's sort of a professional impetus to match their services.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: ...of ... University, one of the more retrograde universities, at least in terms of the issues we're discussing. A couple of quick points or questions. One is that, despite GPO Windows, we should be aware of what I think is the most nefarious and slick attempt under the Paperwork Reduction Act to block access to government information by defining records, what is in a database, and whether or not the people will have the right to get at it. And that the power of that and this unbelievably important issue has sort of been swept under the rug. Only the ALA, very few other agencies other than ALA, have been fighting this, and it's a lonely battle out there. It would be nice if more people, especially in this group, got together on making database access a key point. If GPO hides all of this information, the key information, it doesn't matter what's in Windows. The second is I think that we have great opportunity here. Discussions earlier, on Wednesday, I guess it was, were talking about how elitist things like NREN and Internet are, blocking the people's access, and what I'd like to ask the panel is to comment on the role of the public library in providing information to what could be a new class of information poor in America. Thank you.
CISLER: Well, there is an interesting example in the city of Santa Monica. They put up a system called the Public Electronic Network through a grant from Hewlett-Packard and they linked it to their Inlex library automation system so that people could not only go online to look up information, but they could also go into public places and use terminals and interact with the City Council on a variety of issues. The most famous one is where the homeless community used the public access terminals to negotiate, I believe, showers and storage facilities for some of their shopping carts. These are people who probably would not have shown up at a City Council meeting for fear or embarrassment or whatever. And yet they did use the electronic communications to achieve something. And that stands out because it is not done in many places, but it is an interesting example.
POLLY: We hope to have Internet access in our public lab sometime this year. There are pockets of this -- there's the Cleveland Freenet, for example; there's the whole Freenet idea. And there are other pockets besides what Steve mentioned.
WARWICK: Hi, I'm Shelly Rochelle Warwick of Rutgers, but I'm also a librarian. I feel that some of the people on the panel seem to feel that charging for library services is not such a bad thing, and I'm very concerned by seeing this. There is a tremendous differentiation between those that can afford to pay and the blocking of access, and also even with the providing of government information through CD-ROM, which then puts a tremendous financial burden on the libraries, even though they may have some equipment in place to support all the various databases. I'm wondering if the panel would address whether they think that entrepreneurship, or basically charging for services, is a positive trend, or whether it will be a necessary trend in libraries.
CONABLE: I don't think it's either positive or necessary, and it irritates the hell out of me to hear people say that it is. This is a public good -- that is not an obsolete notion. I mean, the whole point here, if we're going to have libraries at all, is that we have as a society and a government a commitment to access to information as the absolute basic need if we're going to be a self-governing society. And even modest fees are actual barriers to access -- significant and substantial barriers to access. People who are making six-figure salaries and who are profiting through the development and marketing of this technology don't understand that a 50-cent charge or a dollar charge will keep tens of thousands of people away from the information. Now we cannot continue to do this -- it is not good social policy. If we continue to do it, we're going to have real problems. We have real problems. The library is a very modest public investment in the idea that everyone has a right to receive the information they need. Very modest -- it averages about 1% of the total of state and local funding. That's cheap, folks! What you get for that 1% is worth a great deal more to the quality of our collective lives than that 1%. It is one of the biggest payoffs on any dollar that we spend for any public service. You can cut all sorts of government expenditures. This is one that we should all be lobbying to substantially jack up and increase. If we get real about it, funding is not going to be such a critical issue. And selling our services to the small businessmen on Main Street will not support these services for everyone else, and selling these services to the big corporation will not happen -- they will buy it in a proprietary system in a way that they want to do it. Let's get real. (applause)
CISLER: I would like to say on a very narrow scale within Apple, our library does not charge back for any services, which can be fairly unusual in a special library situation. Nor does our networking center, whereas a lot of other groups within Apple are pressed to become so-called profit centers. We feel that, well, we have a little sign up that says, "A couple of months in the lab will save you two hours in the library." (laughter) And it's really true -- we have a very strong following, and there has been no pressure to charge for DIALOG searches. Admittedly, we have a much higher budget and it's a whole different atmosphere, but I just want to give you the point that the belief system carries forth from the public libraries to the special libraries as well.
WALTON: I'd like to add a cautionary note. There is, in fact, an organization called the Information Industry Association which lobbies sort of in opposition to ALA for a lot of the privatization of data. They're alive and well, and they're very, very active in setting policy and priorities. The other thing we have to understand is that in this last year, for example, the Ameritech Corporation, which is one of the regional Bells, purchased NOTIS, a large academic system based in Chicago. They're currently looking into Dynix -- they're not doing this to be altruistic to libraries. They are looking toward the future of being able to distribute for profit data which they believe the libraries are not supplying to large segments of our population. The view I think of many information providers is they have the long-term view is that there is a self- fulfilling prophecy in libraries -- that libraries serve a very important role for a certain segment of a population. And there are many people in a community, perhaps a majority, who don't use the library at all. Part of those will never use the library, and I think they believe that part of them don't use it because of a convenience factor, because of their lifestyles, and because they simply have alternative sources of information they'd like to see. I can assure you they're going to market aggressively to those particular populations. If you're concerned that there's going to be socioeconomic divisions because of this, you're absolutely right.
ROTENBERG: We're heading toward the end here. The screen reminds me a little bit of a video game, particularly Missile Command, and I can see my cities being destroyed (laughter) as we get towards zero, so I think we'll take Vint as the last question.
CERF: Thank you very much. First I wanted to apologize to any Shakespeareans in the audience who might have been taken aback by that little poem. (laughter) It occurred to me as I was listening to this very interesting, and in some cases entertaining, talk that we might find the notion of publisher changing in a dramatic way. It's probably come up in the course of the last few days, and I apologize, I could not be here earlier. Maybe everyone will become a publisher. It's just like what happened in the telephone system -- somebody predicted in 1935 that the rate of telephone growth and usage meant that by 1950 or 1955 everyone would have to be a telephone operator in order for the system to work. Oddly enough, that's exactly what happened, but it happened because we were able to put computers into the system and do the switching automatically. So the question I guess I have for the panel is that if indeed the act of publishing in an electronic environment is something we are all empowered to do, how does that change the role of the library? The library will no longer have to be the archive of everything, but the place you go to find out where the other stuff is?
CISLER: I think people are either going to ask electronically or face to face what's the good stuff out there. Just show me the good stuff, and I think we'll serve that need long after there's software agents finely tuned and running on all nodes.
CONABLE: I trust that our primary role, or one of our primary roles, will continue to be the defense of everyone's right to free expression in all of its manifestations. The right to access, the right to speak, the right to publish, the right to find out, the right to know. That's probably the most important thing we do, and all of the rest of it is our tools and our means of doing that. That doesn't change because the technology changes.
ROTENBERG: Thank you all. (applause)
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