In this national symposium, we will investigate the interlocking problems of internet filtering, digital literacy, and information poverty. This project supports the IMLS goal of lifelong learning because of its emphasis on access to information. People need access to a wide range of information to learn and grow, but internet filtering threatens this ideal. Furthermore, internet filtering can negatively reduce digital literacy for those who are using a restricted internet. This is a crucial area for libraries and their allies because of the resulting unequal access to information and opportunities in already-marginalized communities. However, the national conversation and research on these topics is scarce; this symposium is needed to rejuvenate research, spark new collaborations, develop explicit policy recommendations, and work toward resolving these inequalities.
Internet filtering has three inter-related research issues: a lack of research and knowledge about internet filtering in the U.S.; negative impacts on digital literacy; and disparate effects of filtering, along socioeconomic lines. Each problem is unique and important, but together they pose a significant impact on the accessibility of information to the public. In this national symposium, we will investigate these interlocking problems of internet filtering, digital literacy, and information poverty. We do not have research that addresses the interaction between internet filtering and digital literacy or the ways in which filtering can compound information poverty; we also lack reports from practitioners about the impacts of internet filtering in their day-to-day interactions with patrons and marginalized communities. The proposed symposium seeks to rectify these gaps in our knowledge.
Proposed outcomes include the following: connecting, developing, and sustaining a body of researchers and practitioners interested in these intersecting themes and problems; research that addresses the breadth and depth of internet filtering; practitioner reports and explanations; and policy recommendations for those who implement internet filtering, for those who create internet filtering technology, for those who advocate for/ against internet filtering, and for local and national policymakers who develop regulation around internet filtering. Information will be disseminated via a dedicated website, a Twitter hashtag, webinar(s), publication in peer-reviewed journal(s), and presentations at multiple conferences.