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Intellectual Freedom in Danger

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July 21, 2005

Librarians across the country have been expressing dismay over provisions of the Patriot Act that could force them to violate their patrons’ privacy. The American Library Association has an archive of information about the PATRIOT Act and Intellectual Freedom. They’ve got tons of resources like legal guides for librarians, and ALA resolutions opposing the Patriot Act.Miss Eli at Confessions of a Mad Librarian points to a recent study of the PATRIOT Act with disturbing results:

U.S. law enforcement officials have made at least 200 formal and informal inquiries to libraries for information on reading material and other internal matters since October 2001, according to a study that adds grist to the growing debate in the U.S. Congress over the government’s counterterrorism powers.In some cases, agents used subpoenas or other formal demands to obtain information like lists of users checking out a book on Osama bin Laden. Other requests were informal and were sometimes turned down by librarians who chafed at the notion of turning over such material, said the American Library Association, which commissioned the study.The association, which is pushing to scale back the government’s powers to gain information from libraries, said its $300,000 study was the first to examine a question that was central to a House of Representatives vote last week on the USA Patriot Act: how frequently federal, state and local agents are demanding records from libraries.

Chris Kelsey says “So the Republicans love this thing called The Patriot Act that forces librarians to tell the government what books people have read. I think we should have something called The Pissed-Off Librarians’ Act that forces the Republicans to read the Constitution.”And offers Five Technically Legal Signs for Your Library to help warn patrons that they are not safe. The ACLU also has some materials for librarians: privacy tape!

privacy tape

Speak out against the “secret search” provisions of the Patriot Act by taping your web page or blog with Privacy Tape. To request some real privacy tape for use on your door, your computer or anywhere else the government can search practically without notice thanks to the Patriot Act, write to

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