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When dealing with First Amendment free speech issues in the context of public libraries, courts have merely cited the supposition that constitutional public forum analysis leads to the conclusion that the public library is a limited public forum for the purposes of First Amendment analysis. By focusing narrowly on the issue of whether Internet access in libraries constitutes a public forum, and determining that it does not, the U.S. Supreme Court not only misses an opportunity to refine the concept of the public forum in modern-day terms but also somehow implies that public library activities are different from other speech activities and are subject to the managerial authority of the government. This article makes the argument that a redefinition of the public forum doctrine would bring tinder its ambit the public library, to join the "traditional" public forums such as streets, sidewalks, and parks-a departure from the current designation of the public library as a limited public forum. This article also examines the extent to which the Internet represents an expansion of the forum, whether public or limited. The argument is structured within the framework of the decision in the case of United States v. American Library Association.

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Library Quaterly, v. 75, no. 1, p. 1-19