Posted by Lori Ayre on April 14, 2004

Excellent article in the April 2004 issue of Computers in Libraries about the Kanguard filtering system available to Kansas public libraries that choose to opt in to the free, state library provided service.

I learned about it when I was researching my filtering paper for Library Technology Reports Ed: broken link removed 2011and was delighted to hear about at least one region working together to make something that works for libraries.

The article "Building and Running a Collaborative Internet Filter is Akin to a Kansas Barn Raising" (by Thomas M. Reddick) steps you through the process of installing Squid and Squidguard and identifies the other programs and settings necessary for actually making the whole thing work for multiple libraries. For example, the author describes how he configured the server so that each participating library gets its own public IP address to ensure that their database vendors will continue to recognize their authenticated users. It is also a wonderful example of some Best Practices put into use....

Filter Maintenance Committee
I also very much apppreciated the process Kansas implemented for determing what sites go on the "always block" and "never block" lists and how they keep patrons involved. They use a committee of "professional librarians who [are] well versed in CIPA and filtering issues" to ensure they have what they want on the block lists. Excellent.

Patron Involvement
And they provide a block page that links to a form the patrons can fill out if they disagree with the blocking (or not) of a particular site. Here's the text of the block page Ed: broken link removed 2011but note that it isn't linked in this sample to the actual form - darnit. Note the friendly tone and useful information. Hooray!

Easy For Staff to Disable Filter
One of the complaints I've had with Squidhard as implemented in some libraries is that it requires resetting the proxy server settings to disable it. This is not practical nor adequate (see Mary Minow's muy fabuloso article on the criticality of being able to easily disable filters). Well, the Kansas folks remedied that issue with a simple little script that librarians can run by clicking on an icon. I'm not sure how the filter gets re-enabled but I'm hoping that they've concocted something equally simple or better yet, made it reenable itself after some period of time.

If you don't have a subscription to Computers in Libraries, pick up the April 2004 issue at your local library.