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Contact: Larra Clark

For Immediate Release
September 30, 2003

American Library Association condemns attack by former Attorney General Edwin Meese; calls for open debate of PATRIOT Act powers

CHICAGO – The American Library Association (ALA) condemned the ad hominem attack on librarians made by former Attorney General Edwin Meese III this morning on The Today Show and reiterated its commitment to ensure the historic protections of privacy and confidentiality of Americans’ reading records.

“Similar to our current Attorney General, Mr. Meese chose to malign librarians rather than address the real and substantive concerns of millions of Americans and members of Congress,” said ALA President Carla Hayden. “Whether or not the government is using the expanded powers provided by the USA PATRIOT Act in libraries, we must ask:  Should the government have the power to obtain Americans’ reading and other personal records without showing probable cause?

“Libraries are a cornerstone of American democracy, and librarians have dedicated our lives to assisting library users find the best and most appropriate resources for their needs.  As information professionals, we know that fear comes from a lack of information,” she continued.  “The ALA stands ready to openly discuss and debate the fundamental concerns at stake as we seek to balance national security concerns with the constitutional protections that make this country a beacon for freedom and democracy.

“Legislators and the general public can be assured that traditional legal protections extended to library records are not an obstacle to ensuring national security, and we hope Congress will restore the historic protections of library records and pass one of the legislative remedies currently proposed,” Hayden added.

      For more information on the PATRIOT Act and libraries, please visit and