ALA

  Larra Clark, Press Officer
312-280-5043

For Immediate Release
May 19, 2003

Rep. Bernie Sanders to keynote joint library conference in Toronto, June 19-25

(Chicago)  The American Library Association is pleased to announce today that Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) will provide the keynote address at the Opening General Session of the 2003 Annual Conference in Toronto, June 19-25.  The sponsor of the “Freedom to Read Protection Act (HR1157),” Sanders has been on the front lines with librarians in fighting for the right to read freely in American libraries.  Sanders’ bill restores the protections for the privacy of book and library records that were eliminated by the U.S.A. Patriot Act in October 2001.

“The USA Patriot Act strikes at the heart of Americans’ ability to access information and read and think freely without fear of government reprisal,” said ALA Washington Office Executive Director Emily Sheketoff.  “I am so thrilled Congressman Sanders will headline our conference and share his perspective on this critical issue at a time when we need leadership like his the most.”

Specifically, Sanders’ legislation would exempt libraries and bookstores from Section 215 of the Patriot Act. H.R. 1157 will still allow law enforcement officials to subpoena bookstore and library records when crucial to an investigation, but the courts will exercise their normal scrutiny in reviewing these requests. Sanders’ legislation is co-sponsored by 95 members of the House, including eight Republicans.

“One of the cornerstones of our democracy is the right of Americans to criticize their government and to read printed materials without fear of government monitoring and intrusion,” said Congressman Sanders. “This tri-partisan legislation will go a long way in protecting the privacy and First Amendment rights of all Americans.”

Sanders became the first Independent elected to Congress in 40 years when he was sworn in as Vermont’s at-large member of the U.S. House of Representatives in 1991.  He is the longest-serving Independent in the history of the U.S. House.  National issues of importance to him include progressive tax reform, national health care, the environment, energy policy and workers’ rights.

The Opening General Session, 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 21 in the Metro Toronto Convention Center, will culminate a day of programs related to privacy and confidentiality in libraries.  Chuck Rosenberg, counsel to the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and George Radwanski, Privacy Commissioner of Canada, will be the featured guests at a Saturday morning ALA Washington Office briefing on the Patriot Act and other legislation affecting the privacy of library users, and the Library Administration and Management Association (LAMA) will take up the topic Saturday afternoon with a program “The USA Patriot Act: Managing Libraries in the Age of Terrorism.”

The ALA Annual Conference is the world’s largest and most comprehensive library conference and exhibition. Thousands of librarians, educators, writers, publishers and special guests are expected at the joint conference of the American Library Association (ALA) and Canadian Library Association (CLA) in Toronto. This year marks the first cross-border exchange in more than 40 years. The conference includes more than 2,000 meetings, discussion groups and programs on topics affecting libraries. Conference speakers include Ralph Nader, Gloria Steinem, Eleanor Smeal and Naomi Klein. Exhibitors will feature the latest and best library products and services and host authors from across North America.

For the most up-to-date conference information, please visit the ALA home page and click on the “Annual Conference” icon on the right.  To learn more about the U.S.A. Patriot Act and libraries, please go to http://www.ala.org/alaorg/oif/usapatriotact.html.

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