This is what democracy looks like.

Even though the Bush administration and the Justice Department may have gone ‘through the looking-glass,’ librarians clearly had not. Even though the first steps were uncertain, librarians had clearly stepped up and done their civic duty to speak out against measures that strike at the heart of the functioning of a democratic society – intellectual freedom, and the right to be secure from unwarranted searches or surveillance.

As early as January of 2003, the ALA had passed a resolution calling on Congress to hold hearings on the surveillance of library patrons, and to amend sections of the Patriot Act that threaten intellectual freedom. The resolution pointed to sections of the Patriot Act that it called “a present danger to the constitutional rights and privacy rights of library users.”

This represented part of an ongoing campaign, as libraries all over the country either specifically endorsed the ALA resolution, or implemented resolutions of their own. By 2004, the California Library Association had launched a joint campaign with the ACLU to support rescinding portions of the Patriot Act, like Section 215, and amending the act to limit search warrants and surveillance.


“Resolution on the USA Patriot Act and Related Measures That Infringe on the Rights of Library Users,” American Library Association, January 29, 2003. Online (February 28, 2007) Available

“ACLU and California Library Association Launch Anti–Patriot Act Campaign,” American Libraries Online, January 23, 2004. Online (February 28, 2007) Available

Explore posts in the same categories: Patriot Act and Libraries

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