Maine Politics

From the Piscataqua to the St. John

Friday, March 18, 2005

Stupid Bill

Any time a law seeks to strip away some of our privacy, it must be closely examined. Rep. Randy Hotham's (R-Dixfield) bill to open children and teenager's library records to their parents does exactly that and a close examination shows it to be a contender for stupidest bill.

Hotham was the only supporter of his bill at a hearing on Thursday.
The Legislature should be making libraries "more, not less, available to children and adults alike," said Richard Thompson of the Maine Civil Liberties Union. He said Hotham's bill "discourages children from library use, making them think twice about what to read or whether to use the library at all."

The state should not violate the confidentiality of library records unless confidentiality poses "a true threat to citizens," but no one has shown that such a threat exists, said Anne Davis, who testified against the bill for the Maine Library Association and the Maine Library Commission, which oversees the Maine State Library.

In addition to the privacy implications, the bill would cost public and university libraries thousands of dollars and make kids less likely to read.

Visit the new Maine Politics.


When did what books you check out of the library become a private matter? When I was grwoing up, you checked out a book by writing your name on a card that was kept in the back of the book. Anyone could pick up off a book off the shelf and see who had checked it out. Where people damaged by this traditional practice?  

Posted by George

3/18/2005 09:09:00 PM



§121. Confidentiality of library records

Records maintained by any public municipal library, the Maine State Library, the Law and Legislative Reference Library and libraries of the University of Maine System and the Maine Maritime Academy that contain information relating to the identity of a library patron relative to the patron's use of books or other materials at the library are confidential. Those records may only be released with the express written permission of the patron involved or as the result of a court order. [1997, c. 146, §1 (amd); §2 (aff).] 

Posted by Brian

3/18/2005 09:32:00 PM


Note the date of the law -- 1997. That was the real stupid bill. This idea that library records are private is a relatively new one. People have a right to privacy of medical and financial records. Library records should be subject the freedom of information law like other government records.

Posted by George

3/18/2005 11:00:00 PM



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