A bit off subject - WV's largest paper writes editorial in support of activist librarians

Steve Fesenmaier (mystery12@charter.net)
Fri, 6 Dec 2002 06:25:50 -0800 (PST)

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Librarians
Fighting many battles
Thursday December 5, 2002

PICTURE the stereotype of a librarian: a matronly, severe figure in
glasses, glaring at a loud miscreant while directing a stern "Shhhhh!"
in his direction.

Well, today's librarians are more apt to be making noise than shushing
anyone, according to a recent Los Angeles Times article describing the
new political activism of the American Library Association.

That group has led opposition to unfair copyright laws, the misnamed
Patriot Act that gives law enforcers unprecedented access to library
records, and an anti-pornography law that would require content
filtering on Internet computers in libraries.

Like the American Civil Liberties Union, which is controversial because
it defends unpopular causes, the American Library Association is coming
under fire from conservatives who accuse it having a "radical extremist
social agenda."

The ALA's agenda is not radical or extremist. Librarians are opposed to
censorship, so they oppose attempts to mandate that they limit what
adult patrons may access from library computers. Protecting children who
use library computers from inadvertent access to pornography is a worthy
goal, but less draconian methods could be just as effective.

Librarians also believe that their patrons have a reasonable expectation
of privacy. They don't think government agents should be able to come in
and review records of books that people have checked out, at least
without a warrant demonstrating some evidence of a crime by the
book-checkers. That notion is neither radical nor extreme.

Finally, librarians understand that copyright laws are supposed to
balance the rights of authors, composers and artists against the public
interest. Recent changes to copyrights have tilted the balance almost
completely in favor of corporate copyright owners, infringing on the
rights of consumers.

Today's librarians are fighting important battles. No one should try to
shush them.

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Copyright 2002 The Charleston Gazette

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Librarians
Fighting many battles
Thursday December 5, 2002


PICTURE the stereotype of a librarian: a matronly, severe figure in glasses, glaring at a loud miscreant while directing a stern “Shhhhh!” in his direction.

Well, today’s librarians are more apt to be making noise than shushing anyone, according to a recent Los Angeles Times article describing the new political activism of the American Library Association.

That group has led opposition to unfair copyright laws, the misnamed Patriot Act that gives law enforcers unprecedented access to library records, and an anti-pornography law that would require content filtering on Internet computers in libraries.

Like the American Civil Liberties Union, which is controversial because it defends unpopular causes, the American Library Association is coming under fire from conservatives who accuse it having a “radical extremist social agenda.”

The ALA’s agenda is not radical or extremist. Librarians are opposed to censorship, so they oppose attempts to mandate that they limit what adult patrons may access from library computers. Protecting children who use library computers from inadvertent access to pornography is a worthy goal, but less draconian methods could be just as effective.

Librarians also believe that their patrons have a reasonable expectation of privacy. They don’t think government agents should be able to come in and review records of books that people have checked out, at least without a warrant demonstrating some evidence of a crime by the book-checkers. That notion is neither radical nor extreme.

Finally, librarians understand that copyright laws are supposed to balance the rights of authors, composers and artists against the public interest. Recent changes to copyrights have tilted the balance almost completely in favor of corporate copyright owners, infringing on the rights of consumers.

Today’s librarians are fighting important battles. No one should try to shush them.

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© Copyright 2002 The Charleston Gazette

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