Alabama Library Challenges (Cullman County Schools )

Chris Peterson filed this request with the Cullman County Schools of Cullman, AL .


From: Chris Peterson

To Whom It May Concern:

We are a team of academic researchers studying information access and availability in public schools and libraries. We are contacting you as part of a national effort to help us better understand the scope and substance of the various challenges which arise in the course of administering a public library system or public school system.

Under Alabama's Public Records Law, we are requesting copies of the following public records:

-any complaints, requests, and/or challenges for removal, reclassification, and/or reconsideration of publications including books, magazines, movies, music, and/or other media, along with any associated records, petitions, and/or correspondence since January 1, 2003

-any current collection or curriculum development policy or policies governing your institution(s)

-any records related to Internet filtering, including but not limited to:

-any current acceptable use policies, web publishing policies, or equivalents

-any current contracts with Internet filtering services and/or providers

-any current categories of content which your provider offers to block, along with which categories your library or libraries currently block

-any modifications to the standard configuration of your filter, including lists of sites, services, URLs, keywords, or other identifiers which have been specifically configured as forbidden or allowed (i.e. "blacklists/whitelists")

We will use these records in our research. Please note that we are not asking for registration, circulation, or other private records protected by state law, and you should feel free to redact personally identifiable information from the records you send us, at your discretion.

You may respond to this request by sending electronic documents (e.g. emails, screen captures, spreadsheets, etc) or high-quality scanned PDFs to this inbox. If you cannot respond by email, please fax copies to 206-984-9551, with “MIA” written clearly at the top of the first page. If you do not have any documents responsive to our request, or if you have questions about how to respond, then you may email us at this inbox. In order to assist you in responding to our request, we have also posted guidelines and examples at

We understand that there may be fees associated with responding to our request. We ask that you waive any such fees in light of our project’s character, which is non-commercial, academic, open, and firmly in the public interest. If you are unable to waive fees, and if they are in excess of $20, please contact us with an estimate of fees before responding.

Thank you in advance for helping us better understand the important work that you do. If you have any questions about our request or our project, please email us at: team [at] mappinginfoaccess [dot] org.


Emily Knox
Assistant Professor
Graduate School of Library & Information Science
University of Illinois

Shannon M. Oltmann
Assistant Professor
School of Library & Information Science
University of Kentucky

Chris Peterson
Center for Civic Media, Media Lab
Massachusetts Institute of Technology


To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Jan. 20, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.


To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Jan. 20, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: Donald Sweeney

Dear Ms. Knox,

As attorney for the Cullman County Board of Education, I write in response to your request for information dated Jan. 20, 2014. For the reasons stated herein,
The Board, on my advice, declines your request.

The FOI statute is not designed to burden public school districts for request that have no nexus with or bearing about the operation of the burdened school district.

If you have statutory authority relevant to Alabama that would obligate this district to use its resources to augment at considerable effort a research project of this nature, please share that with me.

As attorney for this District, I do not believe there exist such legal authority, nor do I believe an Alabama Court would burden this District with a request such as yours.

Absent such a showing, the Cullman County Board will decline your request.

Yours truly,

Donald Sweeney

From: MuckRock

Mr. Sweeney and Superintendent Coleman,

Thank you very much for your response.

As a public agency, Cullman County Schools is obliged to respond to requests submitted under the Alabama Public Records Law. More information on the Alabama Public Records Law is available here:

We have no desire to impose an undue burden on you or your staff, and would be eager to discuss which portions of this request are likely to be most difficult to fulfill. A number of public libraries and school districts across Alabama, large and small alike, have already fulfilled this request without trouble, but we would like to better understand which portion carries the greatest difficulty for you and your staff.

If you have any questions about our research, please consult the project website:

Thank you very much for your assistance with our research and for your commitment to open government.

From: Donald Sweeney

Dear Ms. Knox

For the reasons previously stated, I have advised my client not to respond to your request.

You have provided no Alabama authority that requires a public agency to comply.

Yours truly,

Donald Sweeney


There are no files associated with this request.