- In the summer of 2008, the Valley Library of Oregon State University was faced with a need to re-evaluate its access policies and decide whether to maintain the current policies or change the policies to address existing and potential issues. As part of this process, the Valley Library surveyed the libraries of three consortia.
Surveying 63 libraries, the total membership of the Oregon University System, Orbis-Cascade Alliance, and Greater Western Library Alliance, produced 32 results. A majority of responses indicated that the libraries surveyed provided both library access and Internet access for nonaffiliated patrons (persons who are not university students, staff or faculty). Libraries surveyed generally indicated an interest in providing as much access as possible for non-affiliated patrons while balancing their duties to affiliated patrons.
Limiting factors on libraries' ability to provide access to non-affiliated patrons included the need to ensure students and other university-affiliated patrons access to computing resources, comply with legal constraints such as CALEA and licensing agreements, and comply with network policies set outside the library.
With regard to Internet access, libraries varied in the permissions and restrictions applied. A majority of libraries offered access to regular computers with unrestricted wired access to the Internet, sometimes with a time limitation, and did not offer access to kiosk (short term use) computers or limited kiosk computer use to only library catalog and resource access. Libraries tended not to require staff interaction or identification for non-affiliated patrons to obtain access. Less than half of libraries surveyed provided wireless Internet access for non-affiliated patrons.
The Valley Library's current policies serve the library, affiliated patrons and non-affiliated patrons well. If changes are made they should be minor, such as more narrowly focusing the websites accessible from regular computers while maintaining kiosks with unrestricted access. The Valley Library should continue not to provide wireless access to non-affiliated patrons.