« Hold off a bit on buying that e-reader for library users | Main | Foursquare and Gowalla and your library - privacy and legal implications? »


I was thinking a bit more about the issue of religious services in library meeting rooms, and was wondering if your webinar might help clarify the distinction between Free Speech and Free Exercise of Religion as they apply to this question. The more I think about it, the less Free Speech seems to me to apply to this kind of situation, although there are some lawsuits that seem to make this claim. I'm guessing that meeting rooms in a library just aren't any kind of public forum, and also that a "meeting" is more or less a private undertaking.

The incident mentioned by Mr. Kleinman raises some questions that might fit in to your Webinar topic. 1) How much information, if any, should a library retain about computer use by identifiable individuals, and for how long? 2) What such information should a library disclose to law enforcement when NOT presented with a search warrant? 3) Are there circumstances (before a search warrant or impound) under which a library should or must take a computer out of use in order to preserve the files that are on it? 4) Is it a problem for browser history and temporary internet files to be deleted automatically when a user signs off? (this is a common practice to protect the computer from viruses and to protect any subsequent user from images a previous user might have downloaded). 5) Could/should such automatic file deletion be done by a secure-erase program (making recovery of those files nearly impossible)?

Interesting. Be sure to mention opposition to the USA PATRIOT Act was explicitly used as a reason for not reporting and for covering up for the crime of child pornography at the Holyoke Public Library. See "Whistleblower Confirms Library Cover-Up of Child Pornography and Confirms USA PATRIOT Act Used as Excuse" at http://safelibraries.blogspot.com/2009/07/whistleblower-confirms-library-cover-up.html

Policies about limiting the use of library meeting spaces for religious services seem to be a current issue. Can a library prohibit the use of its meeting spaces for any religious services, provided that the library doesn’t discriminate between religions? Can policies limiting noise levels in meeting spaces apply to singing hymns or other sources of noise that might originate in religious services? Can library policy prohibit the solicitation of funds in its meeting spaces, including passing the collection plate at a religious service?

Internet filtering is also always an issue. I’ve recently seen a CIPA-compliant library attempt to require a written application and approval process for an adult patron to request the unblocking of a website or the disabling of the filter (for a given patron at a given time, not in general). The proposed policy might create several problems: 1) creating a written record that identifies the patron and the nature of the request, 2) requiring the patron to state a reason for unblocking or disabling, and 3) delays the unblocking process for up to 72 hours. Would it be possible to clarify the legal problems of such a policy?

The comments to this entry are closed.