Library users of all ages have right to privacy

This Blethen Maine Newspapers Editorial says a visit to a public library should be like a trip to Las Vegas -- what happens there should stay there.A Maine lawmaker is trying to deny such privacy to readers who are 17 or younger.

Rep. Randy E. Hotham, R-Dixfield, has sponsored a bill that would require public libraries to tell parents what books their children have checked out.They say No matter their age, patrons should be able to do all of this privately -- not fearful that parents and library employees are looking over their shoulders.


So the editorial thinks it okay for 17 yr olds and younger to wander around Las Vegas alone?

As it is the least private city in America, with surveilance and other things everywhere. Cameras in all the casinos, comparative photography, logging of personal data (since most people pay for hotel rooms with a credit card), etc, etc, etc.-- Ender, Duke_of_URL

I'm still developing my thoughts on all this., but if I had to choose an age for our library, I'd lean toward 14 years old.

At 14 a child card is upgrades to a teen card-- they can then use our adult computers, borrow videos and become responsible for their own cards. With greater responsibility comes greater priviledge?

Obviously, in the best of all worlds, parents would be proactive and work with their children on book selection. It works here all the time, whole families come in together, check out together and consolidate their receipts behind a library magnet stuck on their refrigerator-- thus knowing what's checked out is family knowledge.

Yet, by the time you're in high school, I think a a teen should be given an amount of intellectual freedom. We can help in that process, connecting with teens and passing along the skills needed to responsibly use that freedom.

As far as reading about sex, I'd rather have my kid (or in my case my neice or nephews) reading about it at the library where I know they'll get factual information (as you noted, we're a filter).

Under Florida Law, we couldn't tell parents what items their children had overdue for many years. I am sure some libraries did it, anyway, but they were violating the law to do so. The statute was amended a couple of years ago to allow for libraries to inform parents about overdue items.
We still are legally bound not to tell parents what their children are checking out.

Are you going to make the parents/guardians financially responsible for what their child checks out? Most libraries do. Can you make them financially responsible for their child's check-outs, but not tell them what they are?

"Yes, you owe us $xx.xx, but we can't tell you what for..."

The library I worked at ran into this after Columbine. Parents by the handfulls flocked to the library wanting to know what their children were checking out. Our policy was to protect the child's privacy (by the way, I'd worked there for a significant amount of time in the Reference department and was never told this was the policy). We couldn't tell the parents, but if the items came up missing, they still had to pay.

I wonder if this also means kids will be able to see a list of what their parents are reading? Obviously, if the parent has a right to know that their child is reading about sex, then the child should know if their prarents are reading about divorce.
It's all in the family, you know.

I am conservative overall, but liberal in terms of when privacy is involved, and as long as the information is only given to a confirmed parent/guardian I do not have an issue with this, however I think it should be 13 and under, not 17 and under.We hear about things we do not want our kids to read about everywhere ( and I have a mental list I use ) BUT the quest for knowledge should not be completely restricted.It is always the devils balance of a kid needing to read about what to do when they are being abused, versus the kid reading about sex.

ooooo yeah but Librarians are living breathing filters so how is that going to work? No nudie bars, no hookers, no underage drinking. I might do a lot of that stuff but which of us are going to let the kids do it?

I think they're saying if a kid does go to Las Vegas they should be escorted by a librarian!Imagine the pile of resumes they'd get for that job opening.

Actually it is only up to age 16, not 18. So if they can drive, they can read whatever they want without anyone finding out.