Two Libraries, Revisited

4 thoughts on “Two Libraries, Revisited”

  1. Aside from what is actually blocked, I have a long-standing problem with “Acceptable Use Policies” as I’ve experienced them. My prime example is that at Clemson University. The Association of University Professors had for a long time a recommendation on how institutions should treat e-mail correspondence. Their contention was that e-mail should be treated with the same respect as traditional mail, meaning that you can’t just go in and read someone else correspondence. The Clemson policy had a pretty wide-ranging “right” for the university to read such correspondence, and told the potential user that he / she had no assumed right to privacy. In talking to the former head of their computing division (who is now dead), I was told that “we have this in writing in case it’s needed, but we don’t make a policy of reading people’s correspondence unless there is a really good reason.” I didn’t feel reassured. Clemson has a rather dark history of how they treat people who are “out of favor.” I expect that CD was being as honest and sincere as he could with me, and he was a really good person fwiw. BUT it was obvious that the lawyers had written the policy, and it was obvious to me that they kept the cards in their hands and your rights be d@#Med.. I click “agree” to such policies because I have to. But, as a practical mater, such coerced acceptance is of no merit in my eyes. I suppose institutions have to have an AUP, but they are not particularly impressive in a “free” society.

    1. While I agree with you comments in theory, in practice it’s much more complex. As far as our school district is concerned, there are federal regulations that require us to have an AUP in place and to block certain websites if we are to receive any federal funds. We rely on these funds (E-Rate, mostly) to provide our data connections. Business (and school) e-mails are NOT private, and Clemson is no exception, especially because it is a public institution. Anyone can do a Freedom of Information request for the content of just about anything. Believe me – I’ve gotten lots of them, and I have to produce copies of e-mails related to that subject.

  2. Looks like your setting as a school district imposes a rather different set of constraints than does higher ed. You all likely don’t have to deal with “academic freedom” cases, which are remarkably broad in what they protect. I wonder, though: Clemson has encouraged students to get a special kind of Google education e-mail (which they keep after graduation, if I’m not mistaken). I wonder if this might provide a way of pushing student communication out of the university’s servers and into a more public vendor setting. Never thoght of that, but it’s one way of “passing the buck” when it comes to access. (?) Anyway, it’s interesting to compare written legal restraints with the way things actually function in HE. Fascinating post, btw.

    1. Yeah, having a spouse at Furman I’m aware of the academic freedom aspects. I think the Google e-mail is a way to keep things separate.

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