06 August 2008

Meanwhile, back at your local library....

I know I know....I have to finish my ALA report, plus talk about those suburbs in search of a city called Los Angeles (thanks for the line Doug!) but this news from a library in Western Maryland recently caught my eye:

Darrell Batson, director of Frederick County Public Libraries, said two FBI employees came to the downtown Frederick library either Wednesday or Thursday. The agents removed two public computers from the library's second floor. They told him they were taking the units back to their office in Washington, D.C......This was the third time in his 10 years with FCPL that the FBI has come to the library seeking records, Batson said. It was the first time they came without a court order. The library's procedure for such requests usually requires a court order, however after the agent described the case and the situation, he was persuaded to give them access, Batson said.

We've gotten some requests over the years for information regarding our computers and computer users, but have (so far) stood firm on the need for police reports and court orders before we give out any information. The fact that the director was "persuaded" by the FBI to give them what they wanted troubles me deeply (it also appears that not everyone in Library Land can be so easily swayed).
Do we all now just lean over backwards and give law enforcement officials any and everything they want? Once upon a time (before the current Bush administration) there used to be something called 'respect for the rule of law.' Has that gone completly by the boards in the name of 'security'?

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