|Submitted||March 12, 2013|
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To Whom It May Concern:
This is a request under the Massachusetts Public Records Law (M. G. L. Chapter 66, Section 10) for a copy of the following records:
Copies of written and electronic complaints and challenges for removal, reclassification, or other reconsideration of publications including books, magazines, movies, websites (e.g. filtered from library computers), or other media from January 1, 2010, to present, as well as records, petitions, and correspondence related to these challenges.
We seek such records as, for example, are classified by the Massachusetts’ Supervisor of Public Records Municipal Records Retention Manual under Section 17.004: Complaint and Censorship Records, though we do not limit our request to those so classified.
According to 950 CMR 32.06(5), every custodian of records is encouraged to waive fees where disclosure would benefit the public interest, as we believe these will. This request is part of a research project by the Center for Civic Media to better understand how and why library materials are challenged in the State of Massachusetts. We are committed to open access and plan to make our findings broadly available to the public. If fees cannot be waived please inform me in advance.
We ask that, if possible, you please respond via email with text documents or clear, high-quality scanned PDFs. If you cannot reply electronically, please mail us the best quality copies you reasonably can. Your efforts helps us ensure broad accessibility and equity.
The statute requires your response to this request within 10 business days. Thank you in advance for your cooperation in helping us better understand this important aspect of the work that you do. Please feel free to email me directly if you have any further questions.
- Chris Peterson
Center for Civic Media
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 March 12, 2013. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.
Thank you for your help.
Dear Mr. Peterson,
I did not reply to your original request as I am a new library director and had no knowledge of any recent challenges. Upon looking into the matter a little further, I am quite certain that there have been no challenges here since January 1, 2010.
As I believe you are probably aware, librarians are staunch defenders of the freedom to read, and most would be happy to help you with your research. There was something a little off-putting about the tone of your request that made it seem more like a demand than a request for help. It always helps to engage people’s sympathies. If you have had a less than satisfactory response rate, I would not be surprised if that is part of the problem. I think the fact that this was conveyed in a fax was part of the problem as well. It is easy to find library email addresses online, and I’m fairly sure that MLS would have been happy to help with that.
I do wish you luck and hope that your research goes well, and that it results in better awareness for the public. Sincerely, Libby Westie, Holland Public Library
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