A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Glad I didn't Reup

Reup with the American Library Association, that is-- I have never been a member of the U.S. military, though I salute all those who have served. The ALA is supposed to be the voice of librarians here in the U.S., and as such it is supposed to be a proponent for free access to information and an opponent to censorship.

While it is still both of those things, increasingly the ALA seems to be drifting further and further into partisanship and just outright obtuseness. Recent annual meetings have featured screenings of Farenheit 9/11 and speakers who are rabid opponents of the Bush administration. As to obtuseness... well, they endorse this. I personally, don't. Why anybody using a public computer purchased with public funds, stationed in a public area and used by many different members of the public would enjoy any sort of privacy protection is somewhat beyond me.

I'm ambivalent about keeping check out records confidential-- but at least those are specific to one particular individual and the books they like to read. I am inclined to believe that in that case probable cause should be required.

But a public computer is... well, public. And the crime was in progress-- time was a pressing issue. Fortunately, the threat was a hoax, and the delay caused no harm. This time. Next time...? Well, this editorial from The Boston Globe-- hardly a rightwing extremist publication-- pretty well nails why librarians' overzealous protection of perceived privacy guarentees could be utterly disastrous for the very patrons we hope to "protect."


Really, what do you expect? I would think the political sentiments of libraries and academia to do hand in hand, and nobody ever accused academia of being nonpartisan.
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