Sunday, July 24, 2005

Librarians Protest Patriot Act Provision

The ability to investigate the library books people are reading has been one of the more controversial aspects of the Patriot Act, and not surprisingly librarians are upset about this. Michael Gorman, president of the American Library Association has called this Kafkaesque and protests that, “”It’s very reminiscent of the ’50s and the ‘red scare’ where people showed up at libraries trying to find which political books professors had read, because they were going to be put on a communist list or something.”

Gorman has also questioned whether this provision will actually help fight terrorism, and worries that, since library users are forbidden to be informed that an investigation is underway, it will erode the trust between librarians and readers. In the past, libraries would typically cooperate with subpoenas for library records. Such subpoenas issued by the courts would be public record, as opposed to investigations authorized by the Patriot Act, which makes it a felony for a librarian to inform those being investigated of the release of information.


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