Monday, May 22, 2006

Hellraiser, Rabble-rouser, and Defender of the Free Word

Librarian Trina Magi has been described as a hellraiser, rabble-rouser, and defender of the free word.

It's an interesting way to describe a librarian. According to Library Magi, a University of Vermont librarian worried that section 215 of the USA PATRIOT ACT could have a negative effect on her students.

“If you have to start wondering what your reading list might look like to an FBI agent, you might start to censor yourself...and the moment you begin thinking that, you are no longer free to be an informed citizen.”

Magi took her concern to Vermont Library Association, which became the first state library association to oppose the Patriot Act officially.

Although we are living in Canada, we have been impacted, at least at our library by the Patriot Act. When setting up a new circulation system last year, we were reluctant to use the setup encouraged by the company, since they wanted all of our information stored on computers in Texas. Canadian citizens would then be subject to the Patriot Act when it came to keeping their borrowing habits private. Another impact on borrowers with the new system is that they/we/or anyone else is unable to look back on books which have been borrowed. The company designed a product that would only hold the name of the current borrower and the borrower prior. Although I can't say for sure why it has been designed that way, my guess is that US libraries prefer not to have information on their patrons' borrowing habits.

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