Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Free Speech in the Catalog

Do You Really Want to Be a Forum? by Leonard Hitchcock appears in the current issue of Library Philosophy and Practice.
This article examines what a public forum is, and whether or not a library can legitimately claim to be one. Beginning with an imaginary visit to a rather odd public park, and a brief review of the development of the legal doctrine of the public forum, an attempt is made to establish that the library 1) falls far short of being a genuine public forum, 2) is actually ambivalent about being a forum at all, and 3) could, if it really wanted to, become much more of a forum by making a very simple change in its online catalog.
He suggest allowing patrons to comment on materials and having those links in the catalog.

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