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Maintaining the Privacy of Library Records: A Handbook and Guide

Bielefield, Arlene
Cheeseman, Lawrence

Neal-Schuman Publishers
Published:July 1, 1994

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Description: From Library Journal
Food for thought, grist for the discussion mill, and practical applications are all concisely packaged into this handbook. Bielefield and Cheeseman, authors of Libraries and Copyright Law (Professional Reading, LJ 6/1/93), devote the first third of their book to examining the Supreme Court decisons that had an impact on such First Amendment issues as the right to "receive information and ideas" and the right to privacy. This is followed by a review of federal laws relating to the privacy of records containing information about individuals. What emerges from the text is that rights many librarians might believe to be absolute and guaranteed in the Constitution are not. The authors write, "In actuality, Congress has never accepted the First Amendment prohibitions as either absolute or inviolate." Nor, they add, has the Supreme Court. In the second section, Bielefield and Cheeseman provide a state-by-state list, with comments on specific concerns, of laws pertaining to the confidentiality of library records. They also include a sample library policy and appendixes on related legal documents, such as the text of the Freedom of Information Act. The authors' purpose in writing this book is to provide "a practical guide to the constitutional issues, federal laws, and state statutes governing the privacy of library records," adding that "the only way to fully protect the confidentiality of library records is to practice defensive law-avoiding legal problems by anticipating and taking affirmative steps to avoid them." Library directors, librarians with an interest in intellectual freedom and confidentiality issues, and library schools will find this book has a lot to offer.
Delores Maminski, Carroll Cty. P.L., Westminster, Md.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Description:
The confidentiality of customer records in libraries is being increasingly challenged. This state-by-state guide to the laws governing records privacy offers librarians and staff the tools needed to develop the correct response. The main section excerpts the texts of relevant state laws. The rest of the book is devoted to examples of the policies and practices of representative libraries of all types and sizes, the positions of various government agencies, and American Library Association activity on the issue. Also offered is an analysis of the trends in privacy issues that are indicated by current laws and policies.

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