Patriot Act hype hurting libraries.


An Anonymous Patron writes "I found the following posting at the BookCrossing website. It seems to be a person that is avoiding the library because of the fear of the Patriot Act. Could it be that over hyping the Patriot Act is actually huriting libraries because now the public has the perception that their records can be seized at anytime?"

[At the time of my posting this, the book crossing site was not working, but I thought the question posed here was interesting and hopefully we will be able to access the page soon. - AJK]


There is no good reason to avoid libraries, unless you have something to hide or behaving suspiciously. For example, borrowing books on building bombs or making poison gas.

Setting up a tent city outside someone's home, clogging up what is nothing but a dirt road and making all the neighbors miserable is an essential liberty? I don't think so. Neither is privacy in a public library.

If you have nothing to hide then why is your government spying on you?

I wonder if your reticence about this not-so-little secret is more the product of an Alternetted education than willingness to suck a sock for your RCMP. You do still have the Lair?

Spying 101: The RCMP's Secret Activities at Canadian Universities,>

Spying 101 provides new insight on the previously secret operations of one of Canada's most powerful institutions and best-known national symbols, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. For more than eighty years, the RCMP and its younger counterpart, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), have been conducting covert investigations within the hallowed halls of Canadian universities in an attempt to discover 'subversive' activity among faculty, employees, and students, and, periodically, to hunt for spies and terrorists.

At my library the public computer use was a free for all until about a year ago when we began a sign in system. Now a user presents his card to check out a computer, those visiting can use guest cards (borrower cards assigned to the name "guest" in the system) to check out a computer, that way we don't have to turn non-residents away.

We implemented this system for several reasons:

1) So that we could control how long a patron remains on the computer. Our policy always has been one hour, but now we have a means to verify that and ask people to let another user have a chance if it gets busy (although it seldom gets that busy since people know they are now timed.)

2) It allows us to track from where our patrons are coming. We have a county cooperative, but all the cities manage their own libraries. This way we can tell if we get a lot of patrons from other cities and provide other useful statistics. These will be useful at budget time.

That's it, we don't record where they go, what they do, or what they type; yet some people were reluctant to use the computers because they thought the PATRIOT ACT could make us spy on them. Some people with library cards prefer to use the guest card because they think somehow their Internet usage is tracked. Patrons have remarked that they have read in the news how their library records can be given to the FBI if they drop by and ask for a list of websites they have been visiting.

I have explained to all of the patrons that none of those things can happen, primarily because we don't create nor keep those types of records and the check in procedure is only for statistical and budgetary purposes and almost all of them believe me.

Interestingly, at least once a week I have a patron from a foreign country display their passport or driving license when asking to use a computer. I don't need to see those, and I let them know guest use requires no identification, but since we implemented this system I have seen at least a dozen UK passports, probably 20 licenses from Canada, passports from Morocco, Greece, Poland and Italy. I've used the Internet in libraries and cafes in Ireland, France, Belgium, Germany (all within a week of 9/11), Spain, Mexico and the UK and never been asked for ID. (Personally I have no problem providing it if asked but that is another discussion.)

So it seems to me that the zeal with which perceived diminution of personal liberties caused by the USA PATRIOT Act are reported has caused people to worry about going to the library.

I wish these people would ask a librarian about what really happens and what records exist that could possibly be obtained. I don't know about your library but we don't know what you checked out three months ago. Please ask a librarian; we won't lie to you.

There, there, Tomeboy; nobody expected you to get it.

Nor is anybody but other baby-killers fooled by your petulant American whining. Those of us who are rational know very well that it is you who turns a blind eye to the perfidy of your political> while crying so piteously about the same perfidies perpetrated by other political parties. At least I condemn anybody who does that sort of thing regardless of affiliation.

By the by, have you considered Karl Rove's treason recently? Or how Bush flip-flopped on how anybody who committed such an act of treason would be fired?

Please - tell that to President "we will bear any burden, pay any price" - as long as I get my 5 week vacation & none of my family serves. And let's not forget that raving liberal Pope John Paul called this an unjust war. Clearly not a guy one can hang the pinko canard on.

The failure of this war effort - regardless of whether we should have engaed in this misguided venture in the first place - lies squarely on the shoulders of the Commander in Chief. Not on the shoulders of some poor mother whose child did derve and who paid the ultimate price for your freedom to sit here a desecrate their names.

If you feel differently - may be you can join the real soldiers and resign from the "101st Fighting Keyboardists" - take the Bush Twins along with you.

On the privacy issues - I'm reminded of when many years ago Congress passed a law making everyone's video rental records private. When they publish theirs' - I'll consider the arguement that my privacy should be violated.

Firing a gun at annoying but peaceful protestors is an essential liberty? Unworthy even of comment, much less criticism?

Petitioning the government for the redress of grievances is an essential liberty. But, you'll be thrilled to know, Camp Casey is being moved to private property at the invitation of one of our Fearless Leader's other neighbors--thus cutting in half Camp Casey's distance from Bush's toy ranch.

And, yes, Greg, reading without the government looking over your shoulder is an essential liberty, and librarians with any self-respect and professional responsibility should be protect that essential liberty, not lining up for the opportunity to assist in the latest government overreach into our civil liberties--especially when it's an invasion of our liberties that will not in any way make us safer.

If he was firing at them he would have been arrested. Nothing wrong with a good ole'fashioned warning shot.;)

If its not blocking the road then that's certainly an improvement.

See now, you say "government looking over your shoulder" while completely ignoring the fact that: 1. the government supplied the library and materials to begin with and 2. we (as in every American citizen) are the government.

Yes, Greg, we are the government--we have every right to tell the current functionaries when they're getting out of line, we have every right to tell the current functionaries to cut out the constant intrusion into our private lives, and we absolutely have the right to read materials the current functionaries don't happen to approve of without their interference or supervision--even, or should I say especially, when it's our tax dollars that are supplying that reading material.

George W. Bush is not my owner; he's my employee.

Wake up and smell the coffee, Greg. Oddballs like McCain aside, most of the politically active veterans of our last few wars are Democrats, and the people sliming them are Republicans who had, or have, "other priorities." It's not a Democrat who fired at a crowd of Gold Star families and other soldiers' relatives and explained that he was practicing for "dove hunting season," or who drove his pick-up truck through the row of white crosses memorializing American soldiers killed in Iraq outside Camp Casey in Crawford.

The argument that in order to fight a war we have to use the Constitution for toilet paper is the argument of the Stalinists, not freedom-loving American patriots. Or is Benjamin Franklin, who said "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety" now retroactively declared to have been UnAmerican?

"Conservatives used to be the people who thought privacy was an important value. These days, "conservatives", or those self-labeled as such, sound an awful lot more like Stalinists. "

And there were once Democrats who understood what it took to fight and win a war. These days they're all curled up in the fetal position.

. . . unless you have something to hide or behaving suspiciously . . .

If you have nothing to hide then why is your government spying on you? How many of those persecuted by Amerika's number one promoter of communism, Joe McCarthy, had anything to hide?

Did'j'ya ever stop to think that maybe if your government couldn't find a real reason to seize your records that they would make something up? Maybe invoke some obscure, century-old law that had never been used the way John Ashcroft did with Greenpeace?

It's not a question of what anybody has to hide, it's a question of what they have to fear. Big government, the kind the Rethuglican dolts say they hate but constantly promote, is exactly the kind of thing everyone should fear.

If elected parasites want to know all about our private and personal lives then let them set the example by publishing their tax returns from since they earned their first dollar, and their medical records, and especially all the court records they used influence to get sealed the way Bush did. There is a principle of leadership that goes: you cannot ask others to do what you yourself will not or cannot do. By that principle, there are no leaders in the White House, and prescious few in congress.

For example, borrowing books on building bombs or making poison gas.

Nahhh, man, there's always the internet for that kind of biz.

Always remember, NH3 + Cl = "1 Weapon of Mass Destruction."

Petrol + Styrofoam peanuts = Napalm

Two great examples of how you don't actually need the internet or books, all you need is a tool shed and a grocery store.

but I disagree - even IF you want to borrow books on building bombs and making poison gas!

Then, it's simple, don't join libraries! Anyway, the authorities can get information about you from banks, insurance companies, etc.

Exactly. Libraries don't usually have information on making bombs etc. Internet has. So why avoid libraries? Your credit card has more information on you, and people don't avoid using them.

Yeah, but library book choices can reveal things some folks may not want the government to know that aren't out there in the other records. While some liberal/pagan/gay/whatever folks may be perfectly fine being out there, active in public events and not too fearful of persecution, there are plenty of folks, particularly in smaller towns, who are looking for information on various topics that are not mainstream who WOULD feel threatened by others knowing what they are reading and what it may say about them. I was forced to live in towns like that in my childhood. It was not a pleasant experience.

Personally I think the attitude that "if you aren't doing anything improper, why would you care" is just plain scary and leads to the stripping of rights and privacy for all.

One simple reason: it is my privacy. It is not the government's business or anybody's what I choose to read or not. Those cowards who usually say "if you have nothing to hide" are often ones who likely have a lot to hide if push came to shove. If I want to hide it or not, it should be my choice, not dictated by Big Brother or his sycophants.

Personally I think the attitude that "if you aren't doing anything improper, why would you care" is just plain scary...

The thing is that, since 9/11, things that may have been merely frowned upon turned into "issues of national security." On September 11, 1999 I could go request information about bomb making, get some books at the library on explosives, download some stuff off the net, and the most that would happen is that I might raise an eyebrow.

Now, whoo boy. Yeah, that's not gonna just raise an eyebrow but probably hoist several red flags, prevent me from flying, get my phone tapped, and maybe even grow me a tail.

Or doing research for a paper on that Osama been Forgotten guy for seventh grade history class, or looking for information on any number of health-related matters that you'd rather not have your concerns about become public property.

Conservatives used to be the people who thought privacy was an important value. These days, "conservatives", or those self-labeled as such, sound an awful lot more like Stalinists.

Well, no he isn't your employee. And you can complain about what elected officials do but as long as they keep getting elected they're going to do what they want.

Its my tax dollars too and if I think a library is becoming a place that is more abused then used then I would just as soon have my money back. One of the ways to prove its not being abused is for access to use histories of suspected criminals or terrorists when necessary.