Kompanik, Linda
August 2005
Kentucky Libraries;Summer2005, Vol. 69 Issue 3, p2
Academic Journal
The article presents information related to ALA, the oldest and largest library association in the world. The Association adopted a Code of Ethics in 1939 which recognized library users' right to privacy. This Code of Ethics, along with the Library Bill of Rights, mandates that librarians make every effort to protect patron privacy and promote diverse viewpoints and ideas to sustain an informed, literate, and educated public. In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, legislation, such as the USA PATRIOT Act, was passed in contrast to our profession's ethics. Under this new legislation, law enforcement and justice department agents can demand the confidential records of library users, including the items checked out on their accounts. Incidentally, these subpoenas can be used for other purposes such as seeking banking files, medical information and information from bookstores regarding customers' purchases. Perhaps most alarming, once the information is requested, a gag order is automatically instated, prohibiting disclosure of the subpoena or subsequent information to any other person, including one's employer. Such disclosure can result in legal prosecution.


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