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Public libraries are bringing in resources to fit community needs – WCBI

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CALHOUN COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI) When is the last time you used your library card?

With the rise of digital media and e-books, some people have turned away from what was once the only place to find a wide variety of information.

Traditionally, libraries are known to be a good place to open a book and read.

While thats still true today, libraries are beginning to focus more on the people reading the books.

In todays world, public libraries are getting a second look as a valuable resource.

They are thriving. I know a lot of people think theyre not but there are those people that think the library is only about books, hardback books but its not like that anymore. Weve had to conform and we had to roll with the times, said branch manager Janice Vaughn.

On average, Jesse Yancy Memorial Library in Calhoun County has 40 visitors a day.

Vaughn said libraries are evolving into institutions that focus more on the quality of information, not only for longtime users, but also for their youngest patrons.

Several of our elementary classes come at the beginning of each school year. Kindergartens do a walkthrough just to make them familiar that the library is here for them. Fourth graders actually get their first library card and get to check out a book so thats neat we get to do that for them, said Vaughn.

Although libraries may be looked at as a powerhouse for all things books, they are now offering young adults real-world programs in college and career readiness and technology.

A lot of people come here to fill out job applications, everything is just about online now so they have to come, especially people who dont have computers at home or who dont know about a computer. They come here and help them access the applications and stuff. If they take online classes online, they can come here and we are able to proctor their test that they take, said Vaughn.

Vaughn said she and her staff are always here for their communitys needs.

We offer a lot of things besides just books, said Vaughn.

For more information on what services your local library has available, make the trip and check them out.

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Public libraries are bringing in resources to fit community needs - WCBI

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Join the Abilene Public Library’s online social soiree – Abilene Reporter-News

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Tremain Jackson, Special to the Reporter-News Published 5:00 p.m. CT Nov. 17, 2019

In case you dont know, you can keep up with your Abilene Public Library on social media.

The library maintains a presenceon several of the most popular sites and can be accessed by visiting Look for the social media icons located at the bottom of the screen.

We first dived into social media in 2006 and weve gotten better with age. You can connect with your library on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Tumblr, PodBeanand Instagram. If you have an active account on any of the sites were on, I invite you to connect with us and check out all we have to offer.

Facebook is by far the most popular site with over 1 billion users. We joined Facebook in 2009, and you can find us at Over 5,300 people actively follow our page. Use Facebook to connect with us and ask questions, view photos of our events, see videos, get inspired by daily facts and triviaand much more.

For those who like quick blasts of information, Twitter may be for you. Like with Facebook, we began tweeting in 2009. You can find us at and here youll get information about upcoming programs, see select photos of what were doing, learn about services and more. Best yet, you get all of that in 240-characters or less.

YouTube is another amazing social media site allowing people to upload videos for the world to see. Your Abilene Public Library has an extremely popular page where we provide a host of videos that have been viewed over 1.4 million times. Staff provides a ton of content to watch including some great craft shows as well as videos from many of the workshops and programs hosted at the library. If you want to check us out on YouTube, find us at

Pinterest is popular for pinning ideas to a bulletin board for others to search through and use. In no time, it has become a popular place for people to browse. Your library has multiple boards providing access to reading lists, craft ideas, book reviews, bestsellers, summer reading club ideasand more. More than 1,700 people are following us there, so join them and us at

For those who enjoy listening to podcasts, we also host a weekly show from the library to talk about our programming, new releases to be on the lookout for at your library, issues relating to technology that impact us alland news stories about libraries, both local and national. These free, audio broadcasts are updated every Tuesday and you can give us a listen on the PodBean site at, or find us by visiting your podcasting apps on your mobile devices and looking for the Abilene Public Librarys Squirrels and Shiny Things show. Dont you love that title?

Instagram, a site that lets you snap photos, add fun filtersand upload them for others to look at, is another option. We can be found online at or through the popular application for mobile devices. With more than3,700followers, its a fun way to see a different side of your library.

The final place you can find us online is at Tumblr, which works very similar to Instagram. You can follow us there by downloading the Tumblr application on your mobile devices and searching for "Abilene Public Library."

Dont pass up the chance to check out what we have to offer you online through social mediaand feel free to follow us so youre alerted toupdates.

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Join the Abilene Public Library's online social soiree - Abilene Reporter-News

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Around Town: Capital plans; the power of literacy – Palo Alto Online

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On Nov. 18, the Palo Alto City Council plans to add two years and $204,000 to its agreement with Townsend Public Affairs, which lobbies for the city in Sacramento. File photo by Veronica Weber.

In the latest Around Town column, find how what issues Palo Alto City Council members want the city's legislative advocate to focus on and a local nonprofit recently recognized by the Library of Congress.

CAPITAL PLANS ... Palo Alto's elected leaders have plenty of gripes when it comes to Sacramento, from desires to see more state funding for railroad improvements to concerns about housing bills that may diminish local control over land-use decisions. The job of communicating these concerns to state legislators falls to Niccolo De Luca, a legislative advocate with the lobbying firm Townsend Public Affairs. On Nov. 18, the City Council is scheduled to add two years and $204,000 to the city's agreement with Townsend, bringing the contract total to $799,000. Last Tuesday, De Luca came to Palo Alto to provide an update to the council's Policy and Services Committee and hear from local lawmakers about their Sacramento priorities. For Councilman Greg Tanaka, the overarching priority remains securing funding for grade separation, the redesign of railroad crossings so that rail tracks don't intersect with local roads. Last year, De Luca worked with Assemblyman Marc Berman on including some funding for design work in the state budget. The proposal didn't advance, though De Luca assured the committee that they made some headway on securing funding for grade separation. "Obviously we didn't get to the finish line," De Luca said. "If this was marathon, it would be mile 24." Tanaka suggested that by keeping the list of legislative demands small, the city may have better luck in getting the grade-separation funding. Tanaka noted that the downtown Palo Alto Caltrain station is the second busiest in the entire system. Councilwoman Lydia Kou lobbied for a more ambitious list of demands, including supporting legislation to audit major transportation agencies such as the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, Caltrain and BART. The city has been working with Townsend since 2014. City Manager Ed Shikada made a case in a new report for retaining the relationship. While recognizing the "significant expenditures," Shikada argued that the discontinuation of the firm's services would make it "significantly more difficult to establish effective relationships when needed to respond to concerns with pending legislation, and similarly more difficult to advance the City's funding and policy initiatives."

THE POWER OF LITERACY ... Redwood City-based nonprofit Bring Me a Book is one of 15 organizations honored by the Library of Congress Literacy Awards Program for demonstrating the best practices in promoting literacy. The local organization was founded by Palo Alto resident Judy Koch, who recently received the award at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. with Michaelin Reamy, president of its affiliate organization in Franklin County, Florida. A former English teacher, Koch launched Bring Me a Book to provide books to underserved children. Its program includes BookBuddies, where volunteers read books aloud to preschool and kindergarten students; Book Cubbies, where parents and children team up to decorate a book cubby at school; and book giveaways.


Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

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Around Town: Capital plans; the power of literacy - Palo Alto Online

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College community gains access to The Washington Post Online – Scarlet and Black

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The Grinnell Library recently bought an institutional license to the Washington Post website, meaning that any device connected to the Grinnell College Wi-FI can access the Washington Post dating back to 2005 (not including the crosswords and other special features), no login required.

The large papers like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post have been reluctant to have a purchase model that included academic institutions. Its hard times for newspapers and theyve been trying to get by, said Kevin Engel, head of Kistle Science Library.

[The Washington Post] didnt put out an educational license until August of this year and initially they came in with a very high price, much too high. Initially the price would have been $7,000 a year; now we get it for $2,000 a year and were locked in for three years, Engel said.

The Washington Post was free for people at academic institutions until November 2017. The library chose to purchase online access based on student demand. Previously students could only read paper copies in Burling. The paper newspapers in Burling that get the most use are the Des Moines Register and the Wall Street Journal, which are both delivered daily.

The Center for Research Libraries (CRL), of which the Grinnell library is a member, negotiated the initial offer with the Washington Post.

It was just a matter of contacting CRL saying were interested, they got a quote from the Washington Post for us, we talked to the Washington Post directly, did a little negotiation on price and then it was just paperwork, licensing and so on. And then they take our IP addresses and set up the access, Engel said. We were probably one of the first colleges in the nation under the new pricing structure because they were figuring out their forms with us.

The library decides what services to buy based on student demand and the cost-per-use. For example, the New York Times online costs $7,950 a year, but the number of people who use it bring the cost-per-use down to three and a half cents.

The great world of newspapers and things is a Wild West because everyones trying to make money in a changing time, so there are lots of different offers and access methods and were hoping to provide the campus with the broadest access and the best access we can, Engel said.

Foreign Affairs, to which Grinnell also has a site license, was another frequently requested publication. The complete version of publications is now the digital version. Theres a lot of content in Foreign Affairs that never makes it into the print magazine. And so, to get that stuff for classes, we went with the site license, Engel said.

The library also buys access to streaming video and music. Some film and video databases Grinnellians have access to include Films On Demand, Filmmakers Library Online, Naxos Video and Kanopy. Naxos Music has classical and international music.

Streaming video is a very hot area right now, and faculty are incorporating film in their classes more and more, Engel said. Everyone would like to have an academic model for Netflixthats the holy grailbut Netflix does not sell that because they make too much money from individuals.

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Vote for access to news, information | Staff Columnists – Grand Island Independent

Posted: November 17, 2019 at 1:48 pm

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The topic of my last column was Time to vote for better eBook access.

I wish I had better news to tell you about eBook publisher giant Macmillans embargo on libraries. But this nations library leaders are still working to provide you with better eBook access and it is our hope to persuade Macmillan that libraries and publishers have been and should be on the same side when it comes to access.

As you might remember, this column was based on a number of news reports including an article from the online publication Slate, Why Angry Librarians Are Going to War With Publishers Over E-Books: Inside an Appropriately Quiet Revolt in its Sept. 11 edition. (


In the meantime, another series of news reports tell the shocking story of how a librarys routine procurement of the digital edition of the New York Times was thwarted. One such account, Dissing access to the New York Times, Citrus County commissioners embarrass Florida comes from the Tampa Bay Times (


We live in very interesting times on a great number of fronts, and access to legitimate news sources is essential in our democracy with libraries at the forefront. Im fond of quoting Lady Bird Johnsons assertion that perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library. The only entrance requirement is interest.

These days more of you are likely to come in for digital materials including eBooks and news resources. When our efforts to provide you with these resources is thwarted, what does that say about our democracy?

As part of these very interesting times we approach the bearers of news differently. One persons trash is another persons treasure used to be reserved for your uncles favorite moose lamp, but these days is how most of us assess real news from fake news through different lenses.

So where do libraries stand on this divide? As close to the middle as humanly possible through a sound Collection Development policy to provide information, serve leisure needs, contribute to education, encourage the development of reading skills and habits, develop an educated workforce and society, and further democratic traditions.

This policy ( contains a number of criteria for collection development, the first of which are needs and interests of the librarys users and anticipated users; value of the material for information, recreation, or education; contemporary significance or permanent value; accuracy and authority. The overarching principle of our policy is embodied in what is called the Library Bill of Rights (, and the section most relevant to the issue in Citris County, Fla., is:

Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.

How that is accomplished is a matter for every individual library to determine with the strength of its board of trustees and staff. Not every news source can be placed on library shelves. Along with The Grand Island Independent, we subscribe to the print editions of several Nebraska newspapers including the Lincoln Journal Star and Omaha World-Herald. Nationally, we are soon picking up the Denver Post (replacing the Kansas City Star due to publisher/vendor restrictions) and we have Barrons, New York Times, USA Today and the Wall Street Journal.

To supplement these print offerings, we subscribe to an online service called Newsbank that provides access to almost 5,500 news sources. But for all sorts of publisher/vendor reasons, many authoritative sources are not available through Newsbank. So as we work out access arrangements within budget constraints, not partisan disapproval, lets continue to vote with libraries to assure access to news information.

Steve Fosselman is the director of the Grand Island Public Library. Email him at

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Columbus libraries taking stand against Macmillan Publishers after limits to e-book access –

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Stonington Free Library expansion aims to satisfy the need for ‘more’ – The Westerly Sun

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STONINGTON A major milestone was marked in Stonington earlier this month during a ceremonial groundbreaking.

While dozens of people looked on, Allegra Griffiths and Denise Easton co-presidents of the Stonington Free Library's board of trustees together raised a shovel to break ground for an addition to the library, the first step in making the building fully accessible and up to date in its technology.

When the addition is complete, the library on High Street will have a new ramp, new entrance, new elevator and new restrooms on both levels, all in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

There will be better access to all areas of the library, including the children's room, which is on the lower floor, said Library DirectorBelinda de Kay, as she walked through the library recently explaining the expansion plans and discussing the necessity and evolution of libraries.

Additionally, she said, thanks to a $58,805 grant from the Connecticut State Library and the Universal Service Schools and Library Program, the library will install a fiber optic connection to help expand digital services, including upgraded high-speed internet.

"It's been a slow process, but a good process," said a smiling de Kay. "It was slow but it's a process that works. It was important getting opinions. We all worked totally together. Everything we're doing came from community focus groups."

"Now, we have growing pains," she added, still smiling. "And they're wonderful growing pains."

De Kay said that the project began in earnest about four years ago and involved soliciting opinions from patrons of the library and Stonington residents and involving them in the strategic planning. The exercise, in "self-assessment and community engagement," was enlightening, de Kay said, and gave library leaders a blueprint for how to most effectively serve the people of Stonington.

More than 600 people responded to a survey and more than 100 attended six focus groups for in-depth discussions. Throughout that process, library leaders learned that the library "along with the helpful, welcoming staff, is much-loved, and essential to their quality of life."

They also learned that residents wanted and needed more from their library.

Easton said, "The community wanted more access to everything, more programs, services and hours." It turns out, she added, "we are valued now more than ever."

"We are dependent on and grateful for this community," Easton said. "I think about that every day."

De Kay said, "It's been wonderful getting to know people," and wonderful, too, learning how much the library means to people. "In a way we've become a library without walls," she said. "With our wonderful website people have 24 / 7 access, and we have a branch library at the Pawcatuck Neighborhood Center and [one] at Stonington Human Services."

"It's areally nice outreach to our neighbors and a popular volunteer opportunity," de Kay said. "We alsomaintain four Little Free Libraries in and around the Borough, another collaboration with the Stonington Village Association."

Although libraries have changed enormously over the years, de Kay explained as she greeted a regular patron who was seated in a leather chair reading a newspaper in a quiet corner, some things have remained the same.

Yes, people want a place to plug in their laptops so they can sit and work in peace, she said, but there are plenty of people who come to read magazines, books and newspapers, and many more who come to check books out.

"We have a well-cultivated new book collection," de Kay said in her pleasant British accent. "And a 'Golden Oldies' section too."

"The really, really important thing about libraries," she said, "is that all people are welcome here. As long as you don't disturb others, you are welcome and you are treated with respect."

Construction of the addition, on the east side of the building, should take about six months, de Kay said, followed by the refurbishment and renovation of the interior.

G. Donovan Associates Inc., of Lebanon, Conn., is the general contractor, and the architect and interior designer is a West Hartford firm, dewright design LLC.

The interior work, Easton said, will free up an additional 525 square feet of floor space in the existing building, for a total of 1,250 square feet of new usable space. "More flexible" contemporary furniture will also be installed furniture that can be easily folded up to make space for meetings and gatherings.

"I'm very keen on the idea of the second phase and the repurposing part," said de Kay, explaining that the changes will "open it all up." After all, she added, the library is a space open to everyone, and everyone should feel at home.

Although people can become anxious about construction projects and change, de Kay said, they can rest easy about the new addition. "The architect has designed the addition so it will look as if it's always been there."

Easton concurred: "Six months from now, nobody will even notice."

Griffiths, who describes the library as "a lovely place to be involved" said she was thrilled to see tangible signs of progress.

George Sylvestre,who serves as co-chair of the building committee, along with Easton, said, "As a former trustee and past president of the board I am thrilled to see this project becoming a reality."

"It's long overdue," said Micayla Hall, the library's assistant director. "It will help open up the space we have and make us more flexible for the community. Just what a library is for."

"We're just so grateful to everyone for all the collaboration," she added.

"The work being undertaken now will insure that it will be able to welcome anyone who wishes to take advantage of its many offerings, regardless of physical limitations," added Sylvestre.

"And now, we'll have an accessible elevator and new ramp and a new elevator," saidde Kay, "all to improve access for all members of the community."

"It's amazing what you can do," she added. "When you have all sorts of wonderful people working together."

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At the Library: Digital research the topic of next genealogy meeting – Fairfield Daily Republic

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At the Library: Digital research the topic of next genealogy meeting

VACAVILLE Join members of the Solano County Genealogical Society during a discussion group that meets from 10:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. the second Wednesday of each month.

Wednesdays topic will be a roundtable discussion on Using Traditional Methods in the New Digitalized Genealogy World at the Vacaville Public Library-Cultural Center, 1020 Ulatis Drive.

For more information, call 1-866-57-ASKUS or visit More information about the Solano County Genealogical Society can be found at


Reach the Daily Republic newsroom at 425-4646. Submit a news tip at

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What spending on social media ads tells us about the General Election – inews

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OpinionEver since Barack Obama mobilised his grass roots support in 2008, Facebook has been the No.1 route to get party messages across

Sunday, 17th November 2019, 11:33 am

During this General Election campaign we are able to monitor the political parties, like never before, as they target voters online with their claims, promises and downright propaganda.

The Facebook Ad Library is a genuine game changer. It sets out on a daily basis just how much each party and pressure group spends advertising on the platform and its sister site Instagram.

i's opinion newsletter: talking points from today

In the past week, the Tories were the biggest party spenders, shelling out 86,023 on 71 ads (from the Conservative Party and Boris Johnson official accounts). Labour spent 43,428 on 183 ads and the Lib Dems 42,400 on a flurry of 1,829 different messages. But the group with the deepest pockets was the anti-Brexit campaign Best for Britain, which invested 84,014.

Since 2008, when Barack Obama mobilised his grass roots support on Facebook to win his way to the White House, this platform has been the key to election victory in America and Britain. Yet parties, lobby groups and foreign actors have been allowed to work there in the shadows.

Failure of the media

Thats partly a failure of the media, which since 2010 has been transfixed by televised debates, which are easier to report on. Its also a consequence of the might of the Silicon Valley companies, which grew so quickly that they could make up their own rules.

For journalists like Joe Tidy, the new Digital Elections Reporter for BBC News, it provides a brilliant resource in monitoring party activities online. It also helps fact-checking organisations, such as the charity Full Fact.

Facebook Ad Library breaks down ad spend according to age group and gender. Tidy notes that the Brexit Party is fully-focused on men over the age of 45, while the Tories are almost ignoring Scotland.

Facebook could be more transparent, revealing data on how parties target by constituency and the personal interests of users, from trade union membership to attending yoga classes, Tidy says.But it's better than Google, where scrutiny of political ad spending requires laborious analysis of complex spreadsheets.

Google Search is another key battlefield, with parties paying to advertise against keywords. Type in Boris Brexit Deal and the top result is an ad for the Brexit Party. There is a battle of the search bar taking place, says Tidy.

We didnt have the Ad Library for the 2017 General Election but it was clear that the Labour Party generated its Corbyn surge on social media, achieving unrivalled engagement in likes and shares for its official posts. But, below the radar, the Conservatives spent bigger on targeted online ads which were largely invisible to the news media, and this helped Theresa May to enter Number Ten.

Tories ahead on all platforms

This time, Tidy says, the Tories are ahead in terms of interactions on all three platforms (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter), according to data given to him by BBC Monitoring, the broadcasters media analysis unit.

Part of this high engagement has come from the the widespread sharing of an official Tory video, 12 Questions with Boris, in which the Prime Minister is followed around by a camera as he goes to make a cup of tea. He compares his Brexit deal to a ready meal (slam it in the microwave), and reveals that he likes Marmite and that he starts his day by taking his dog to do its business.

The wonky production values and oddball answers drew sneering responses from political opponents who likened Johnson to David Brent. But the Conservatives have paid to promote the film on Facebook and it has had more than 5 million views on social media. The Tory campaign is deliberately putting out cheesy or controversial stuff, Tidy believes. Its all about noise.

In the first week of the campaign, Tidy notes, Jeremy Corbyn and Labour dominated Twitter, with 16 of the top 20 most-engaged-with tweets. But Twitter is not where voters are wooed. CEO Jack Dorsey grandly banned political ads on the forum from 22 November, but political spending overwhelmingly goes on Facebook and Google.

Enjoy the new transparency while it lasts.

One area of the Facebook empire that remains opaque to scrutiny is the messaging app WhatsApp. Following pressure from regulators earlier this year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg suggested his company might become less open and more private, merging WhatsApp with its direct messaging services on Facebook and Instagram to create a giant encrypted network.

Ive got a hunch that this election is the most-enlightened we have ever had and it is possible the most-enlightened we will ever have, says Tidy. By the time we get to the next election a lot of these things are going to happen in private messaging.

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What spending on social media ads tells us about the General Election - inews

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Library : Promoting Digital Child Dignity From Concept to Action 2017-2019 – Catholic Culture

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by Pope Francis

Pope Francis Address to Participants: Promoting Digital Child Dignity From Concept to Action 2017-2019

Citing dangers to young people living in the digital world, Pope Francis on November 14, 2019, called for action to ensure their protection. He noted the painful experience of the Catholic Church in dealing with the abuse of young people. The Holy Fathers comments came in the Clementine Hall of the Vaticans Apostolic Palace, where he received participants in an international congress in the Vatican on the theme, Promoting Digital Child Dignity From Concept to Action, 2017 to 2019. The November 14-15 congress is being jointly hosted by the Vaticans Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, the Child Dignity Alliance and the United Arab Emirates Government.

Vatican, November 14, 2019

Your Majesty,Your Highness,Distinguished Authorities and Religious Leaders,Your Eminences, Your Excellencies,Ladies and Gentlemen,

I thank His Highness Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Father Federico Lombardi for their kind words of greeting and introduction to this meeting.

The issues that you will be addressing these days are of immense importance. Many of you have been dealing with these issues with determination and farsightedness for some time. When, two years ago, I received the participants in the Congress on Child Dignity in the Digital World, I urged you to join forces in order to address more effectively the protection of the dignity of children in the digital world. In effect, this complex problem calls for cooperation on the part of all: experts in science and technology, entrepreneurs and economists, legislators, politicians and security agents, educators and psychologists, and, not least, religious and moral leaders (cf. Address to the Participants in the Congress on Child Dignity in the Digital World, 6 October 2017). I am pleased to know that you have continued on this path, along with new initiatives, including particularly the interreligious conference held in Abu Dhabi a year ago, taken up by our meeting today.

In recent decades, from painful and tragic experience, the Catholic Church has become profoundly aware of the gravity and effects of the sexual abuse of minors, the suffering it causes, and the urgent need to heal wounds, combat such crimes and establish effective means of prevention. For this reason, the Church senses the duty to approach these issues with a long-term vision.

We are in fact confronting critical challenges that threaten the future of the human family due to the astonishing development of technology in the information and communications media. Doubtless, the development of new technologies in the digital world provides great opportunities for minors, for their education and for their personal growth. It allows for a wider sharing of knowledge, promotes economic development and offers new possibilities in a number of areas, including that of health care. New technologies open up new horizons, particularly for those minors living in situations of poverty and distant from the urban centers of more industrialized countries.

The challenge before us, then, is to ensure that minors have safe access to these technologies, while at the same time ensuring their healthy and serene development and protecting them from unacceptable criminal violence or grave harm to the integrity of their body and spirit.

Tragically, the use of digital technology to organize, commission and engage in child abuse at a distance, cutting across national borders, is outstripping the efforts and resources of the institutions and security agencies charged with combating such abuse; as a result, it becomes quite difficult to fight these horrific crimes effectively. The spread of images of abuse or the exploitation of minors is increasing exponentially, involving ever more serious and violent forms of abuse and ever younger children.

The dramatic growth of pornography in the digital world is, in itself, most serious, the fruit of a general loss of the sense of human dignity; frequently it is linked to human trafficking. What makes this phenomenon even more disturbing is the fact that this material is widely accessible even to minors via the internet, especially through mobile devices. The majority of scientific studies have highlighted the profound impact of pornography on the thinking and behavior of children. It will surely have lifelong effects on them, in the form of grave addiction, violent behavior and deeply troubled emotional and sexual relationships.

A greater awareness of the enormity and gravity of these phenomena is urgently required. Indeed, one feature of todays technological development is that it is always one step ahead of us, for frequently we first see its most attractive and positive aspects (which indeed are many), but only realize their negative effects once they are widespread and very hard to remedy. I would say this to you, who are scholars and researchers: you find yourselves before an essential challenge! Since these problems are vast and complex, a clear understanding of their nature and extent is needed. We cannot deceive ourselves into thinking that we can address these issues on the basis of shallow and superficial knowledge. Laying the foundations for greater protection of the dignity of minors should be one of the most noble aims of your scientific research.

The role of the communications media is no less important. There is a need to increase throughout society an awareness of the risks inherent in an unchecked development of technology. We have not yet understood and often do not want to understand the gravity of this issue in its totality and future consequences. This cannot come about without close cooperation with the media, that is, with you, communications workers, for you have the ability to influence society and public opinion.

You have rightly chosen as the theme of this meeting: From Concept to Action. Indeed, it is not enough to understand; we must act. The moral condemnation of the harm inflicted on minors through the misuse of new digital technologies needs urgently to be translated into concrete initiatives. The longer we wait, the more entrenched and insurmountable this evil becomes. This concern has been raised by those who like many of you have generously dedicated their lives to this battle in direct contact with this crime and its victims, whether as educators, law enforcement and security agents, and many others.

A crucial aspect of the problem concerns the tension which ultimately becomes a conflict between the idea of the digital world as a realm of unlimited freedom of expression and communication, and the need for responsible use of technologies and consequently a recognition of their limits.

The protection of complete freedom of expression is linked to the protection of privacy through increasingly sophisticated forms of message encryption, which would make any control extremely difficult, if not impossible. A fitting balance must be found between the legitimate exercise of freedom of expression and the interests of society, so as to ensure that digital media are not used to perpetrate criminal activities against minors. For the sake of advancing the development of the internet and its many benefits, companies that provide services have long considered themselves mere suppliers of technological platforms, neither legally nor morally responsible for the way they are used. The potential of digital technology is enormous, yet the possible negative impact of its abuse in the area of human trafficking, the planning of terrorist activities, the spread of hatred and extremism, the manipulation of information and we must emphasize in the area of child abuse, is equally significant. Public opinion and lawmakers are finally coming to realize this. How can we help them take suitable measures to prevent abuse? Allow me to emphasize two things.

First. Freedom and the protection of privacy are valuable goods that need to be balanced with the common good of society. Authorities must be able to act effectively, using appropriate legislative and executive measures that fully respect the rule of law and due process, in order to counter criminal activities that harm the life and dignity of minors.

Second. Large companies are key players in the astonishing development of the digital world; they easily cut across national borders, are at the cutting edge of technological advances, and have accumulated enormous profits. It is now clear that they cannot consider themselves completely unaccountable vis--vis the services they provide for their customers. So I make an urgent appeal to them to assume their responsibility towards minors, their integrity, and their future. It will not be possible to guarantee the safety of minors in the digital world without the full involvement of companies in this sector and without a full awareness of the moral and social repercussions of their management and functioning. Such companies are bound not only to respect the law but also to be concerned with the direction taken by the technological and social developments which they produce and promote since such developments are far ahead of the laws that would seek to regulate them.

Although these challenges are difficult to meet, there are a number of areas of action. I will limit myself to a few examples.

Initiatives such as the Safety by Design legislation sponsored by a Commission of the Australian government are valuable because they ensure that the digital industry is proactive and consistent in its approach to customer safety starting from the development of online products and services. In this way, responsibility for overall safety is explicitly acknowledged to be incumbent upon not only the consumer but also on those who manufacture, develop and supply such products and services.

In some countries too, legislators are committed to ensuring that companies providing internet navigation on mobile devices are obliged to verify the age of their customers, in order to prevent minors from accessing pornographic sites. This is to be encouraged. Indeed, minors today for the most part use cell phones and the filters used for PCs have remained ineffective. Reliable studies tell us that the average age of first access to pornography is currently eleven, and tends to keep lowering. This is in no way acceptable.

While parents are primarily responsible for raising their children, it must be acknowledged that, for all their goodwill, it is increasingly difficult for them to control their childrens use of electronic devices. Therefore, the industry must cooperate with parents in their educational responsibilities. Consequently, the identification of a users age should not be considered a violation of the right to privacy, but an essential requirement for the effective protection of minors.

The possibilities offered by technology are constantly growing. Today there is much talk about the applications of artificial intelligence. The identification and elimination of illegal and harmful images from circulation on the net by the use of increasingly refined algorithms represents a very significant area of research. Scientists and those working in the digital world should continue to promote such research, engaging in a noble competition to combat the wrongful use of newly available technology. I, therefore, appeal to computer engineers to feel personally responsible for building the future. It is their task to undertake, with our support, ethical development of algorithms, and in this way, to help create a new ethics for our time.

The development of technology and the digital world involve huge economic interests. The influence that these interests tend to have on the conduct of companies cannot be overlooked. There is a need to ensure that investors and managers remain accountable so that the good of minors and society is not sacrificed to profit. We have seen how society has grown more sensitive to the areas of environmental care and respect for the dignity of labor. A similar concern for the effective protection of minors and the fight against pornography should become increasingly felt in the finance and the economy of the digital world. The safe and sound growth of our young is a noble goal worth pursuing; it has far greater value than mere economic profit gained at the risk of harming young people.

In a world like ours, where boundaries between countries are continually blurred by the developments in digital technology, our efforts should emerge as a global movement associated with the deepest commitment of the human family and international institutions to protecting the dignity of minors and every human person. This demanding task sets before us new and challenging questions. How can we defend the dignity of persons, including minors, in this digital age, when the life and identity of an individual are inextricably linked to his or her online data, which new forms of power are constantly seeking to possess? How can we formulate shared principles and demands in the globalized digital world? These are challenging questions that call us to cooperate with all those working with patience and intelligence for this goal at the level of international relations and regulations.

Mans creativity and intelligence are astonishing, but they must be positively directed to the integral good of the person from birth and throughout life. Every educator and every parent is well aware of this and needs to be helped and supported in this task by the shared commitment born of a new alliance between all institutions and centers of education.

A contribution to this can be made not only by sound ethical reasoning but also by a religious vision and inspiration, which has universal scope because it places respect for human dignity within the framework of the grandeur and sanctity of God, the Creator, and Saviour. In this regard, I am gratified by the presence of a number of distinguished religious leaders who, in a spirit of solidarity and cooperation, have readily taken up the task of addressing these problems. I greet them with great respect and I thank them most heartily. We ought to be as one in the effort to protect minors in the digital world, now and in the future. For in this way, we bear witness to Gods love for each person, beginning with the smallest and the most vulnerable, so as to foster in everyone, in every part of the world and in every religious confession, concern, care, and awareness. We must ban from the face of the earth violence and every form of abuse against children. Let us look into their eyes: they are your sons and daughters; we must love them as Gods masterpieces and children. They have the right to a good life. We have the duty to do everything possible to ensure that right. Thank you.

Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2019

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