Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Faced with Too Little Bandwidth, Some Libraries Limit Streaming Media, Porn

Aim is to ensure access to ILS, databases
Norman Oder -- Library Journal, 11/24/2009

Most libraries have inadequate connection speeds
Sites like MySpace can hog network
Need for more capacity planning
Nearly 60 percent of public libraries report inadequate Internet connection speeds to meet patron demand, according to the American Library Association's (ALA) Public Library Funding & Technology Access Study, and a few, at least, are cutting back on the amount of bandwidth for streaming media to assure that the integrated library system (ILS) and other functions remain robust.

Slowing pornography
The Greensboro Public Library, NC, has been relegating streaming media identified as pornography to less than dial-up speeds—1KB a second—as part of a way to ensure that the bandwidth is not occupied by material that would violate the library's Internet policy, which states that users won't access anything "inappropriate for public viewing."

The tactic, director Sandy Neerman told LJ, is a way to avoid the problematic use of filters, while discouraging those seeking to access pornography, which has been the source of 89 complaints in a half-year—a relatively small number compared to loitering complaints, but way too many for some concerned parents, as the News-Record reported. (The newspaper editorialized in favor of the policy.)

Slowing MySpace
While Greensboro has chosen not to slow the bandwidth of sites like MySpace and YouTube, some other libraries are doing so, using the same product, made by Cymphonix. The Weber County Library, Ogden, UT, found that its four T-1 lines were becoming overburdened on school day afternoons because students were spending so much time on sites like MySpace.

"You could go through a session, hit a couple of dozen pages, and you've generated several thousand DNS (domain name system) requests, so the traffic was horrendous," Scott Jones, IT director and ....

Continue the article at the Library Journal.