December 20, 2005
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Statement regarding Homeland Security Library Issue
The following statement was released on Dec. 19, 2005:
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth officials are investigating reports that a student at the university was visited by officials from Homeland Security after the student requested a copy of Chairman Mao’s “Little Red Book”. UMass administrators have interviewed the student who has requested that his identity be shielded, and the University is complying with that request.
At this point, it is difficult to ascertain how Homeland Security obtained the information about the student’s borrowing of the book. The UMass Dartmouth Library has not been visited by agents of any type seeking information about the borrowing patterns or habits of any of its patrons and did not handle the request for the book in question. The student has indicated that another university library processed the request.
The UMass Dartmouth library has established policies for handling requests under the Patriot Act and has taken every lawful measure possible to protect the confidentiality of patron records.
The Library subscribes to the American Library Association Library Bill of Rights and was a signatory to the MCCLPHEI (Massachusetts Conference of Chief Librarians of Public Higher Educational Institutions) resolution on the USA Patriots Act submitted to the Massachusetts Civil Liberty Union in 2003.
UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Jean F. MacCormack said, “It is important that our students and our faculty be unfettered in their pursuit of knowledge about other cultures and political systems if their education and research is to be meaningful. We must do everything possible to protect the principles of academic inquiry.’’
Ann Montgomery Smith
Dean of Library Services
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Library
voice 508-999-8664, fax 508-999-8987
Thanks to Paula Lichtenberg, Librarian, Keker & Van Nest LLP for for this follow-up.
Editor's Note: I would look first to OCLC as the source of the patron information. The press account states that the "Little Red Book" was on a Homeland Security watch list. If it was, it would be much more efficient to monitor ILL requests for the work at the OCLC level than at the level of individual libraries.
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