Search the Internet for news stories about public libraries in America and chances are that, sooner or later, the phrase “on the front lines” will come up. The war that is being referred to, and that libraries have been quietly waging since the September 11 attacks, is in defense of free speech and privacy—two concepts so fundamental to our democracy, our society, and our Constitution that one can’t help noting how rarely their importance has been mentioned during the current election cycle.
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Comment by Gary Price, infoDOCKET Founder/Editor:
Wonderful comments and article from the NYRB. However, as I’ve said before (many times) the fact that the library community as a whole has not done more to maximize privacy on the Internet for our users when utilizing library resources is both sad and troubling. While the situation has improved we could do more. Plus, libraries (of all types) should be clearinghouses of privacy-related information, education, etc. across the entire spectrum of digital data and access. People trust us. The library community is always looking for ways to be relevant and this topic remains an ideal opportunity. Yes, some libraries do offer these services but more should have been done years ago. Why this hasn’t happened is also troubling. The first place to begin is training the library community itself on privacy related matters, both policy and basic technical issues. We can’t help others until we first understand it ourselves. Additionally, mechanisms should be put into place to make sure our knowledge and awareness is kept current. Issues and technology change quickly.