Resolution on the USA PATRIOT Act and the Rights of Library Users

  • Minutes of a Meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Kalamazoo Public Library, Kalamazoo Michigan, held October 27, 2003, 4:00 p.m.
  • Present:  Members Cynthia Addison, Donald Brown, Robert Brown, Amy DeShon, Loren Dykstra, Lisa Godfrey, and James Vander Roest. 
  • Absent: None. 

The following preamble and resolution were offered by The Ad Hoc USA PATRIOT Act Committee and supported by Member James Vander Roest:

WHEREAS, the Kalamazoo Public Library Board of Trustees affirms the responsibility of the leaders of the United States to protect and preserve the freedoms that are the foundation of our democracy; and

WHEREAS, Libraries are a critical force for promoting the free flow and unimpeded distribution of knowledge and information for individuals, institutions and communities, and 

WHEREAS, the Kalamazoo Public Library Board of Trustees holds that suppression of ideas undermines a democratic society; and 

WHEREAS, Privacy is essential to the exercise of free speech, free thought and free association; and in a library, the subject of users’ interests should not be examined or scrutinized by others; and 

WHEREAS, Certain provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act, the revised Attorney General Guidelines to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other related measures expand the authority of the federal government to obtain library records, secretly monitor all electronic communication and prohibit libraries and librarians from informing users of such monitoring or information requests; and 

WHEREAS, The USA PATRIOT Act and other recently enacted laws, regulations and guidelines increase the likelihood that the activities of library users, including their use of computers to browse the Web or access e-mail, may be under government surveillance without their knowledge or consent; and 

WHEREAS, the USA PATRIOT Act disproportionately affects the poor and unemployed, many of whom rely on computers in libraries and other public places; and 

WHEREAS, Other organizations such as the American Library Association and the Michigan Library Association have adopted resolutions expressing concern about the Act,

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, That the Kalamazoo Public Library Board of Trustees opposes any use of governmental power to suppress the free and open exchange of knowledge and information or to intimidate individuals exercising free inquiry; and, be it further 

RESOLVED, That the Kalamazoo Public Library Board of Trustees supports all efforts, such as those by members of Congress, to amend any sections of the USA PATRIOT Act that violate fundamental rights and liberties guaranteed by the United States Constitution, and be it further

RESOLVED, that the Michigan Congressional delegation be asked to support legislation that would increase Congressional oversight of the Act; and be it further 

RESOLVED, that this resolution be sent to the entire Michigan Congressional delegation.

And Further, The Kalamazoo Public Library Board of Trustees DIRECTS the Library Director to post, in a prominent place within the Library and on the Library’s website, a notice to library users as follows: 

NOTICE: Although the Kalamazoo Public Library makes every effort to protect your privacy, under the federal USA PATRIOT Act (Public Law 107-56), records of the books and other materials you borrow from this library may be obtained by federal agents. This federal law prohibits library workers from informing you if federal agents have obtained records about you. Questions about this policy should be directed to Attorney General John Ashcroft, Department of Justice, Washington, DC 20530. Telephone 202-353-1555; Fax 202-307-6777.

And further, The Kalamazoo Public Library Board of Trustees DIRECTS the Library Director to prepare an informational brochure for library patrons on the USA Patriot Act containing frequently asked questions on the Act and referring patrons to information sources

AYES: Members Cynthia Addison, Donald Brown, Robert Brown, Amy DeShon, Loren Dykstra, Lisa Godfrey, and James Vander Roest

NAYS: Members   None. 

Resolution Declared Adopted