The first amendment and internet access restrictions in public university libraries


The group of technologies known as the Internet has transformed information gathering and sharing in a way never imagined previously. Because of some of the controversial content on the Internet, public university libraries grapple with Internet access issues because of governing university policies, governmental legislation and other types of regulation. The primary purpose of making information available for the furtherance of research and ideas is the cornerstone of the university library's purpose. The First Amendment provides protection against the limitations of government imposed on modes of communication. This protection applies to the Internet as well. The legal system struggles with balancing the modalities of constraint (powers), versus the modalities of protection (rights), when applying the First Amendment to the Internet and access restriction issues. Currently, little case law exists to solidify a unified stance on this technological ''new kid on the block," with issues concerning access in the public library system, or in the university library realm. Just as there are those that would restrict the reading of various printed publications or the viewing of provocative works of art, the restriction of access to the Internet at the university level could well be construed as a twenty-first century form of censorship. The purpose of this study is to investigate the application of the First Amendment to the Internet in relation to access restrictions in university libraries. Further, the access restriction methods employed by the libraries are examined and critiqued, as well as the development and expansion of the Internet as a primary research tool. If the First · Amendment was created for the protection of speech, the protection extends to access of that speech.


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Thesis Completion





Bast, Carol M.


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


College of Health and Public Affairs

Degree Program

Legal Studies


Dissertations, Academic -- Health and Public Affairs;Health and Public Affairs -- Dissertations, Academic;Internet access for library users -- Law and legislation -- United States







Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access


Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis

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