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Privacy and Confidentiality Issues: A Guide for Libraries and their Lawyers
Theresa Chmara
Item Number: 978-0-8389-0970-6
Publisher: ALA Editions
Price: $52.00
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104 pages
6" x 9"
ISBN13: 978-0-8389-0970-6
Year Published: 2008
AP Categories: A, B, C, D, I, J

Read sample chapters and the book's index now!

Imagine receiving a subpoena requiring patron records or Internet use history. What is your library's policy? Do you know? Does your library have a policy? How big a problem is this?

Because libraries are on the front lines of patron privacy and confidentiality controversies that raise First Amendment questions, it is increasingly critical that libraries and their counsel become familiar with the constitutional rights of patrons. By understanding the issues and the relevant laws, librarians can take action to protect users' First Amendment rights. In this clear and concise guide set up in a frequently-asked-questions (FAQ) format, First Amendment attorney and litigation expert Chmara shares her decades of experience in easy-to-understand, jargon-free language. Library directors and managers as well as lawyers who represent libraries will learn

  • What First Amendment rights exist in libraries
  • How to create a library policy to best protect patrons' confidentiality and privacy
  • The appropriate responses to requests for patron records
  • How to deal with the nuances of Internet use privacy

    Interspersed within the questions and answers, actual court case studies lend a sense of urgency to the explanations. Covering circulation and Internet use records, along with the role of the library as employer, this guide is librarians’ first line of defense of the First Amendment.

    Table of Contents

    1. When Do Privacy and Confidentiality Issues Arise?
    2. The First Amendment and Other Legal Considerations
    3. Privacy, Confidentiality, and the Internet
    4. State Privacy and Confidentiality Statutes
    5. Minors’ First Amendment Rights and Rights to Privacy
    6. Federal Laws
    7. Developing Privacy Policies

    Appendix: State Privacy and Confidentiality Statutes Index

    About the Author

    Theresa Chmara, a partner with the Washington, D.C. office of Jenner & Block, has extensive experience counseling clients on First Amendment issues. She has led numerous sessions in Lawyers for Libraries training institutes and has represented the American Library Association, the Freedom to Read Foundation, and the American Booksellers Association on free speech issues. She is a 1988 cum laude graduate of Georgetown University Law Center.


    "…a must read."

    “A necessary book for library administrators on how to handle privacy issues in the library.”
    --Oklahoma Librarian

    “A valuable resource for any library and their lawyers, this easy-to-read guide presents questions and answers, actual court cases that illustrate the significance of these issues, and guidelines for creating ones own policies.”

    "How would you respond to a National Security Letter? Is there still a gag rule? Can you tell anyone? If the local sheriff wants to look at logs of computer use, do you have to comply? What is the difference between a subpoena and a search warrant? When should you call a lawyer? Do you have to release patron information as part of a Freedom of Information Act request? If a patron is looking at pornography at a public computer, does that constitute a hostile work environment for library staff? Chmara, a partner at a Washington, DC law firm, who has litigated on First Amendment and other issues representing the American Library Association, the Freedom to Read Foundation, and the American Booksellers Association, answers all of these questions and more in a little less than ninety-eight pages."
    --Serials Review

    "A valuable reference source for library administrators in any libraries, public or academic, in establishing and handling privacy policy issues in their individual libraries."
    --Internet Reference Services Quarterly

    "Complete with a 2008 appendix of the individual privacy laws in each state and an index, this book is a valuable reference for librarians in all forms of libraries. The complicated information is provided in layman’s terms without patronizing the reader."

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