Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

March 14, 2005

Jailed for Overdue Library Books

Filed under: — Different River @ 9:56 pm

There really seems to be a crackdown on library users these days.

First there was the U.S. Army Lieutenant threatened with an arrest for tresspassing for reading in the “wrong” section of a public library who was in Brookline, Massachusetts (and later denied renewal of his gun permit using this incident as an excuse).

Now, a fellow in Burlington, Washington has been arrested for having overdue library books. The really stupid thing is, he got arrested after he called police to report that his mail had been stolen. Instead of investigating the mail theft, they discovered he had an outstanding warrant (!!!) for overdue library books (“detaining city property”).

And, he showed the police the library books and told them to take them, but they refused and arrested him instead. Fox News:

Jeremy Jones of Burlington, Wash., called police to his home on Feb. 22 about a case of mail theft.

But the cops found Jones had a warrant out for “detaining city property” and missing a related court date. They promptly clapped the cuffs on the 20-year-old man.

Turned out he had 18 books, worth a total of $268, long past due to the Burlington Public Library.

“I told [the police], ‘They’re right on the table, take them,’” Jones told KOMO-TV of Seattle. “They said, ‘No, we have a warrant, we have to arrest you.’”

Remeber this next time you here librarians get all high and mighty about the USA PATRIOT Act and their refusal to honor search warrants requesting library patron records to protect patron “privacy.” Obviously, they have no problem handing patron records over to the police to get revenge for (since they apparently declined to allow the police to collect) a $268 library fine. But they would never hand over patron records to the FBI to help with a terrorism investigation. From the web site of the American Library Association:

What people read, research or access remains a fundamental matter of privacy. One should be able to access all constitutionally protected information and at the same time feel secure that what one reads, researches or finds through our Nation’s libraries is no one’s business but their own.

There are many privacy bills that have been introduced into recent Congresses relating to business, health, student and other records. The expansion of e-government, e-commerce, and other forms of electronic transactions, including library services, raises serious questions for the library community in protecting individual privacy, especially the privacy and confidentiality of library patron records.

They have their principles, you see!

Principles that lead them to think it’s perfectly fine to check out books on how to make bombs to blow up innocent people, as long as you return them on time — but it’s a crime to keep books past the due date, if you aren’t using them to planning anything nefarious.

Makes me wonder what they teach in library school these days….

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