If you have ever used any of the kiosks on the main floor of Reed Library, you may already be comfortable with not logging on to your personal Fort Lewis College user account.
“One of the reasons we have the computers set up this way is because we live in such a remote geographical area that we like to be open to the public,” Astrid Oliver, the library director, said.
Oliver has been the library director for eight years and has hardly ever had any issues regarding patrons and usage of the kiosks.
“Students as well as patrons are not prompted to read the Internet Usage Policy, nor are they monitored by library staffers,” Oliver said.
“We respect their freedom of expression, freedom of speech and the freedom to access information, but they also have to understand that whatever information they are accessing, they are doing so in a public place,” she said.
Though there is hardly any monitoring of internet patrons by librarians, patrons monitor each other.
“There are incidents where patrons will complain about loud music, someone talking too loudly on a cell phone or when someone is accessing indecent material. We intervene when it becomes a disturbance to other patrons,” Oliver said.
Recently, a patron caused a disturbance by viewing pornographic material using one of the kiosks, Oliver said.
“A patron came to the circulation desk and reported him to us,” she said.
“A librarian staffer asked him to stop three times, and for whatever reasons, he did not,” she said. “So, we had to request that he leave, and he complied.”
“The following day, the same patron returned and again began accessing pornographic material. However, this time, he was only asked to stop twice and on the third time was asked to leave the library. Since then, he has not returned to the library,” she said.
When using any of the kiosks on the main floor of the library, what information you access on the internet is not being monitored. However, your screen is obviously viewable by other patrons Oliver said.
Regarding the kiosks on the main floor of the library, Matthew McGlamery, the Information Technology director said that they are called kiosks for a reason.
“We call them kiosks because they are meant for anyone to use, anyone who may or may not have a user account with Fort Lewis College,” he said.
Kiosks are set up with a generic account and so cookies, browser history and any documents saved to the drive get deleted nightly, he said.
And so students use the kiosks at their own risk, for whatever documents saved to the kiosk will get deleted that night, he said.
The chances of a student’s account being compromised while using the kiosks is rare. This only happens because students fall victims to phishing, he said.
Phishing is the act of attempting to get an individual’s information such as usernames, passwords or credit card information by pretending to be a legitimate website entity.
Internet surveillance is very minimal at Fort Lewis College, he said.
“The college only collects and looks at what information they need to.We’re not looking at your email or your browser history at any given point in time,” he said.
For example, when students access pirated material, the Recording Industry Association of America notifies the college that someone was downloading or uploading copyrighted material, then we have to investigate that, he said.
The RIAA gives us information specifying the date and time when the material was being accessed as well as the source using the IP address. An IP address is a unique string of numbers separated by periods that is used to identify a device using the Internet Protocol to communicate over a network. Tablets, cell phones, laptops and game systems all have IP addresses linked to student accounts, he said.
When a student is caught downloading pirated material more than three times, they are referred to the Dean of Students where more severe action will take place, he said.
The privacy of students is protected, the college will not share a student’s identification with the RIAA. However, if the college gets subpoenaed, they will not have a choice.
“For the large part, students are left to their own devices, we have no control over what information they wish to access. Search queries and browsing history are really not monitored at all. Students are adults and are free to access whatever information that is available to them over the internet,” he said.