Friday, December 29, 2006

Too much privacy ?!?

Okay, as a librarian, I've gone to the mat for privacy. I've stalked the halls of Congress, trying to educate Representatives as to why the PATRIOT act was a bad thing. I've argued with an attorney in the library of the House Judiciary Committee. I've been in a shouting match with my State Senator, when our Wisconsin legislature took away minor's rights to private library records.

But now our Wisconsin Attorney General, probably in an effort to be helpful, has declared that even librarians can't get help in enforcing our rules without a judge getting involved each and every time. In an Attorney General's opinion -- not as strong as case law, but citable as legal precedent -- we have learned that public libraries cannot get help from collection agencies to retrieve overdue library materials. Even if I know the name of someone whom we caught trying to steal library books, I can't give it to my City Attorney.

The key here is what librarians need to do in the performance of their duties, as opposed to what anyone else needs or wants to know about how third parties are using the library. How is the right to use the library compromised by being held responsible for breaking the law?

Our previous system worked well, but now it's illegal. Have I just found out how cops feel about Miranda?

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