Civil Liberties: Checking What You Check Out

What makes librarians raise their voices above a whisper? Certain passages of the U.S.A. Patriot Act. Librarians are among the most vocal opponents of the law, taking particular exception to Section 215, which they claim makes it easier for the government to search library records. "A big part of the public library system was to sustain democracy so people could make up their own mind about things," says Carolyn Anthony, director of the Skokie Public Library near Chicago. "Aspects of the act compromise this."

Before the Patriot Act, authorities could examine library records only after proving in open court that there...

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