FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union today announced that local libraries can receive free copies of the two-DVD set of the ACLU Freedom Files as part of a new membership drive. The promotion invites ACLU supporters to send a set of the programs to any library of their choosing when they establish or renew ACLU membership.
To date, more than 100 ACLU members have provided copies of the series to local libraries across the country in communities including Lexington, KY; Des Moines, IA; Bend, OR; Newnan, GA; Dana Point, CA; and Canandaigua, NY.
“Librarians are true heroes for protecting the privacy rights of ordinary Americans against intrusion by the Patriot Act,” said ACLU Associate Legal Director Ann Beeson. “The ACLU was proud to represent a group of librarians in Connecticut recently who were gagged by the FBI after refusing to turn over patron records without a court order.”
The four librarians, members of a Connecticut consortium called the Library Connection, sought help from the ACLU after the FBI demanded patron records through a National Security Letter. This controversial Patriot Act tool allows the government to demand, without court approval, records of people who are not suspected of any wrongdoing. Anyone who receives such a demand is gagged from disclosing the mere existence of the request. The ACLU successfully sued to have the gag order lifted.
The librarians’ story is told in the Beyond the Patriot Act episode of the Freedom Files. Because the episode was filmed before the gag order was lifted, the individual librarians were not able to speak for themselves, but the ACLU has since posted video clips and statements from the librarians on its website at aclu.org.
The 10 episode Freedom Files series also includes shows entitled: Women’s Rights, Youth Speak, Religious Freedom, Voting Rights, and The Supreme Court, among others.
“We see the Freedom Files series as a tool for libraries and librarians to use in educating themselves and their patrons about some of our most pressing and relevant civil liberties issues,” Beeson said. “Open access libraries were born out of the constitutional spirit the ACLU seeks to protect. The ACLU and the ALA both stand for the fundamental American principle that information should be available to all.”
Freedom Files combines interviews, documentary footage, comedy, drama, music and animation to engage viewers and alert them about critical civil rights issues ranging from free speech to religious freedom. The programs are reaching millions of viewers on cable network Court TV and satellite network Link TV, campus network Zilo TV, DVD's, and new media such as blogs, podcasts, and streaming video.
The two-disk set includes subtitles in English and in Arabic as well as closed-captioning for the hearing impaired. In addition to the ACLU membership promotion, Freedom Files is also being offered to members of the ALA for a reduced price. The DVD set is available in retail outlets for $24.95.
More information about The Freedom Files is online at: www.aclu.tv