ALA president releases statement regarding USA PATRIOT Act Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing

Contacts:   Larra Clark/ Macey Morales
ALA Media Relations
312-280-5043/4393
 
For Immediate Release                                                     
April 7, 2005                                           
                                                                                                                

ALA president releases statement regarding USA PATRIOT Act
Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing

CHICAGO - The following statement was issued by American Library Association (ALA) President Carol Brey -Casiano in response to Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on the renewal of all 16 provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act that are slated to sunset at the end of 2005. 

"The American Library Association (ALA) is deeply concerned about statements made before the Senate Judiciary Committee by FBI Director Robert Mueller during hearings on the USA PATRIOT Act.  Director Mueller informed committee members he did not know of any written laws that protect the privacy of library records, and agreed with statements made by Senator Sessions (R-AL) that the privacy of an individual's library records should not be given special protection under the law.

"Library records are, in fact, protected by written laws. In 48 states, laws declare that a person's library records are private and confidential; the remaining two states, Kentucky and Hawaii, have attorneys' general opinions recognizing the confidentiality of library records.  (See State Privacy Laws Regarding Library Records: http://www.ala.org/oif/stateprivacylaws.)

"States created library confidentiality laws to protect the First Amendment right to read and inquire without government interference, a freedom Americans hold dear. Libraries provide the forum for the exercise of this freedom, assuring each person that there is a place for free and open inquiry without the government peering over one's shoulder. State library confidentiality laws provide library staff with a clear framework for responding to law enforcement inquiries while safeguarding against random searches, fishing expeditions or invasions of privacy.

"The ALA urges every person concerned about preserving their freedom to read freely to inform Senator Sessions and their own senators and members of Congress that reader privacy is important, and that library records deserve protection.  Persons wishing to communicate with Congress can visit ALA's Take Action page ( http://capwiz.com/ala/home/).  To sign an online petition to protect your privacy, visit The Campaign for Reader Privacy at www.readerprivacy.org.  For more information on the USA PATRIOT Act, visit http://www.ala.org/alaorg/oif/usapatriotact.html."