Maine Bill on Juvenile Library Confidentiality Rankles Many


Maine state representative, Randy Hotham, R-Dixfield, has introduced a bill that would require every municipal public library in Maine, as well the Maine State Library, the Legislature's law library and all libraries operated by the University of Maine System and Maine Maritime Academy to make circulation records of juveniles available to parents, upon written request.

Not surprisingly, librarians, civil libertarians and other legislators are less than thrilled.

"I respect the rights of parents. I also respect the rights and privileges of our children," state Rep. Patrick Flood, R-Winthrop, told the committee. "I do not believe it serves any good purpose to create apprehension in the minds of our young people that they may be reading the wrong book or looking at the wrong pictures."

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"I do not believe it serves any good purpose to create apprehension in the minds of our young people that they may be reading the wrong book or looking at the wrong pictures."

I was always under the impression that was the purpose of parenting.

For the sake of curiosity, could you name a jurisdiction where that is the case?

Which states?

Blah, blah, blah, ultra-conservative, blah, blah, blah, Republican=Nazi, blah, blah, blah.....

Fang-face chimes in.

IAAL and if you are that curious pay an attorney of your choice and find out. Remember you can only rely on advice for which you personally pay. No one has a duty to answer, much less listen to you until you pay them to do so.

Debating physical and legal child custody semantics on a board dedicated to libraries and librarianship is counterproductive and childish, especially when done anonymously.

I guess those jurisdictions don't exist.

Sounds like some people just blowing smoke and not backing it up with any sources.


What? You expect the parents to engage their children in conversation? Or, worse yet, expect them to learn how to deal with their own account? What the hell have you been smoking.

On the plus side, we can train them to quietly accept Sneak and Peek as a way of life and learn how to be good little robots.

I agree completely.

The only problem I can see is that most automation software (if not all) does not keep a record of what you have previously checked out but only what you currently have checked out.

I am not opposed of parents knowing what their children are reading; in fact I encourage it. However, librarians are not surrogate parents. This legislation will only burden librarians with more work that does not serve the purpose of bring patrons and information together. Then of course are the expenses that will be incurred by the libraries should this become law- expenses of changing the software that could be better spent on staff or materials.

Actually, a lot of the major systems have a setting where you can choose to retain circ history.

Regardless, it looks like the law would require libraries to share the circ record. If a circ record consists of only those books that are currently checked out, that is what would be shared.

But for all the other issues raised here, and more, the law shouldn't be passed.

I do not debate cowards or fools, and you sir, qualify on both counts.

Ah. The world ends at the border, does it?

Uh, dude, if you're a librarian, try a Google search (if you don't have access to any better sources):

How to terminate parental rights of the non-custodial parent in>, and implicit absent rights in>.

And remember, the Newdow pledge> was thrown out of court because the SC determined that, under California law, the non-custodial parent did not have "the legal authority to make final and binding decisions concerning the child's 'health, education and welfare’."

I prefer to stay on the sidelines when a food fight happens but I feel the need to make a point of clarification.

I am an attorney (spare me the jokes, I've heard them); however, I don't practice family law - it is too stressful and in family law there are situations where someone ends up shooting the ex and the ex's attorney (which is not a good thing).

Now the anonymous poster seems a bit too sensitive to the noncustodial parent thing and I don't want to take sides and/or further embolden him or her (more likely a him).

Generally speaking, there is a difference between a noncustodial parent and a parent who has had their parental rights terminated. The noncustodial parent still has rights and responsibilities (usually monetary support) for the child. A parent who has had their rights terminated is no longer the parent in the eyes of the law. Terminating parental rights is a big deal and a pretty harsh action by a court. Courts don't do it willy-nilly. Unfortunately it is done all too regularly with sexually abused children and drug (mostly meth) using parents. The process also takes some time (the wheels of justice grind slowly and all that).

I did look at the Minnesota statutes and in Minnesota, a noncustodial parent is not the same thing as a parent who has had their parental rights terminated. In fact, there is a statute where a noncustodial parent has the right to access the school records of the child.
I suspect Illinois is the same.

I have read Newdow and I believe the court held that the noncustodial parent didn't have standing to challenge the Pledge. They didn't hold that Newdow didn't have any rights regarding his daughter. Part of me thinks the Supreme Court didn't want to make a decision on the substantive issue and got rid of the case on a procedural issue. But that has nothing to do with this food fight and something totally off-subject in his already off-subject thread.

In any event, that is my two cents. As I indicated, I have no dog in this fight.

Canada stopped being a country of any value a couple years after the Dieppe Raid.

Canada has an inferiority complex for a reason.

"I do not believe it serves any good purpose to create apprehension in the minds of our young people that they may be reading the wrong book or looking at the wrong pictures."

I was always under the impression that was the purpose of parenting.

What? -- to create apprehension in the minds of young people? Yes, I would certainly say that is the purpose of the Rethuglican style of doing everything. The problem with it is that the use of negative reinforcement is counter-productive and creates self-fulfilling prophecies about how children are no good and are going to grow up to be useless, criminal trash.

Now, if the Rethuglicans and their drones in the ultra-conservative wing of religious fanatics would try raising children by the use of high expectations and positive reinforcement, they would raise children who would be able to protect themselves from . . . well . . . people like Rethuglicans and ultra-conservative fanatics. Such children would be able to think for themselves and have the backbone to stand up for themselves, and that, of course, would make them thoroughly useless for the agendas of power-tripping control freaks. Which is why Rethuglicans and religious fanatics won't stand for it and need these kinds of laws to stop children from growing up with self-respect and confidence.

And, by the by, I notice that the term children has been as broadly applied as possible, which means it will include young adults who are not children de facto, merely de jure. Which is also in keeping with the total lack of respect for human dignity that Rethuglicans commonly exhibit.

And why the hell didn't that idiot girl simply call the library and ask them herself which book she had that was overdue? Golly-gee, you'd think that might the smart thing to do, wouldn't you? And how convenient that she's out of touch. I wonder if this person even exists.

Oh yeah, and as for precise legal definitions, perhaps you were not aware of the meaning behind the acronym IANAL, try a google for netiquette and educate yourself.

First, it is not unreasonable for parents to have access to their juvenile child's library records. One of my daughters is in first grade. I am legally responsible for everything she does and that is my job as one of her parents. She is not legally capable of consenting to anything.

This is just another example of driving people away from the library and not supporting the library. I don't think it would be unreasonable for some parents to just throw up their hands and decide that they are not going to let their children use the library. In addition, the parents might not support a bond or tax levy for the library in the next local election.

You can alienate parents only so much before it becomes too much.


This is a conflicting issues for me.

I want to guide my children and to do that I need to know what they are doing--who they hang out with, what they do in school, how much homework they have, and what they are reading.

As a librarian, I want parents to be responsible for their children's behavior and to guide them in what they read and how they act.

Also as a librarian, I want to protect children who are accessing information that their parents might become upset by: teen pregancy options, how to report abuse, etc.

If a teenager has been researching suicide, what do you do when the parent wants to find out what their very depressed child has been reading?

Bob Belvin, New Brunswick NJ

It is crazy to think I should not have access to my 7 year old child's library records.

Absolutely crazy.


As a librarian, I want parents to be responsible for their children's behavior and to guide them in what they read and how they act.

Also as a librarian, I want to protect children who are accessing information that their parents might become upset by: teen pregancy options, how to report abuse, etc.

That's just it, how can a parent do their job if we're acting as a set of blinders?

Parents should not need access to their children's library records. Parents should be involved enough in their children's lives that they don't need a print out of their reading lists.

That said it will just be another task for librarians to do. Verify the ID of the parent, check for no contact orders, print the book lists, listen to parents complain about the books their children are reading.

Lawmakers have little if any clue what librarians and library staff must do.

Parent is also a verb, that is often forgotten.

I can print out a list of items in about 3 quick steps, comparing an address isn't the end of the world and listening to people complain is pretty much part of the territory. But at least when they start complaining you can now simply say its in their hands, its no longer the library's responsibility.

Let me start by saying that I support parents being able to see what their children are checking out of the library.

Okay, so the parent comes in to the library and says my child is so and so, and lives at such and such and address, let me know what they have checked out. To avoid being sued into yesterday the librarian would have to verify that the individual in question is;

The parent ( because people lie )

The custodial parent ( because people lie )

The the child has not turned 18 ( because then they would no longer be considered "children' )

I am a systems person and the only EASY way I can think of to carry this out in a manner that would limit liability is as follows;

No one who cannot prove they are 18 would be allowed to get a library card (this is ugly with 100's of privacy and rights issues)

  they had the signature of someone possessing a valid picture ID that has the same name as the parent listed on the notarized birth certificate
They sign a form stating that they still maintain legal custody and will contact the library if this changes at any time.

Failing all of the above I can see a non custodial parent using such an idea to track dates that a child visits the library for purpose of kidnapping, step-parents would be able to assume legal abilities they do not possess, people who have turned 18 could have their rights infringed upon, etc.

Of course with all of the above and the pathetic state of parenting skills as they stand world wide I can see it merely meaning less reading by a generation with already questionable literacy. However, what do I know? I have a blog and use google, and that idiot Gorman thinks it means I am ignorant.

Please understand what you are writing about. A non-custodial parent is still a parent, both biologically and legally. A non-custodial parent has not had their parental rights terminated.


Substitue "parent with a restraining order" or something similar.


Please understand what you are writing about. In some jurisdictions, "custody" doesn't mean, "the person the kid lives with", it means, "somebody responsible for the child". I have custody of my daughter, even though she lives with her mother (we have joint custody). In my area, a non-custodial parent has been stripped of his or her parental rights. march your kid down to the library and make them ask for a printout of the library record?

I think parents have a compelling case for being able to see what the kids are doing, and the library has a compelling case not to help people snoop on other patrons.

If a strange letter shows up for a child, parent should ask "what is in that letter" or demand to see the letter, but not peek in it without telling the child.

Unlike the craven and cowardly anon patron, Dj has it right, non-custodial in most jurisdictions means loss of parental rights.

Non-custodial in many jurisdictions means loss of parental rights. Not to mention which, rights to things like this would ALSO have to be added to divorce agreements (and for all the children born out of wedlock also).

Please do not be a coward and accuse me of practicing ignorance when you are in fact wrong. It is incredibly childish to attack one point (and be wrong) that is utterly irrelevant to to debate at hand.

It sounds like the parents rights issues following a divorce/breakup are a sore one for you, perhaps you should seek counseling to allow you to both deal with the situation more effectively, but to protect the feelings of the child/children involved, carrying grudges on that level is hazardous to yourself and others.

Ah. The world ends at the border, does it?

The world doesn't end at the border, but the U.S. law ends at the border. This is about a Maine law. Last I heard Maine was in the United States.

Don't they teach that in your country?