Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Freedom to Read Foundation Offering Free Memberships to Recent MLS Grads

Monday, October 12th, 2009

CHICAGO – The Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF) is offering free one-year memberships to students graduating from ALA-accredited MLS and MLIS programs and from school library media programs recognized by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), an educational unit accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

Students whose graduation date was Aug. 1, 2009 or later can, upon their graduation, download a membership form at and mail, fax or e-mail it to the Freedom to Read Foundation.

“We are very excited to offer this gift to new librarians,” said FTRF president Kent Oliver.   “By becoming members of the Freedom to Read Foundation, these professionals will be helping the librarians and library supporters who are on the front lines defending intellectual freedom as well as vital First Amendment litigation that helps uphold many of the core values of librarianship.  Offering these free memberships is our way of encouraging the long-term support of the organization and the intellectual freedom principles it upholds.”

As benefits of their membership, the graduates will receive the Freedom to Read Foundation´s quarterly newsletter, and be eligible to vote in the annual trustee election and attend FTRF member receptions. The membership will be good through December 2010.

The Freedom to Read Foundation, an affiliated organization of the American Library Association, was founded in 1969 to promote and defend the right of individuals to freely express ideas and to access information in libraries and elsewhere.  FTRF fulfills its mission through the disbursement of grants to individuals and groups, primarily for the purpose of aiding them in litigation, and through direct participation in litigation dealing with freedom of speech and of the press.

Question?  Contact Jonathan Kelley at or (800) 545-2433 x4226.

Google Announces New Privacy Policy for Book Search

Friday, September 4th, 2009

Throughout the conversations taking place around the proposed Google Book Search Settlement, one of the issues consistently raised is the lack of any privacy guarantees in the proposed settlement. Many commentators have called for a formal statement of protections. After all, libraries protect reader privacy. Libraries are the source of most of the books in Google Book Search. Libraries are where many people will access both the corpus as a whole as well as the books they purchase access to. There is a natural expectation that the Book Search service should have equally strong protections even though Google’s standard privacy policy leaves a lot to be desired.

In presentations to library and higher education groups, Google has verbally stated that they plan to offer reader protections mostly because the recognize that librarians won’t buy the institutional subscriptions without it.  Today, Google announced their policy.

There are good things in the policy such as not requiring a Google account to view pages from books as allowed in the settlement, colleges and universities with institutional subscriptions will be able to authenticate their users so that Google doesn’t  need to learn the identity of users, and Google will not pass on book title purchase information to credit card companies. However, the policy doesn’t really go far enough.

The policy states “[s]pecial legal privacy protections for users may apply in cases where law enforcement or civil litigants ask Google for information . . .” rather than a full requirement of warrant or subpeona. Where state law requires such consideration, they will apply it. But the implication there is that they won’t insist on court reviewed orders where it isn’t required. I’ve had the FBI ask me for reader information. I’ve been able to tell them to come back when they have a warrant. I expect Google to do the same.

– Dan Lee

Google and Blogger Privacy

Monday, August 24th, 2009

Rosemary Port, the 29-year-old author of the blog “Skanks in NYC” is retaliating for a recent decision that ruled her site defamatory against model Liksula Cohen by suing Google, claiming that the company “breached its fiduciary duty to protect her expectation of anonymity” when they revealed her name to the requesting judge.

More here, here, and here.

— xima

Yale University Press “Does Not Negotiate with Terrorists”

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

What the press is doing, however, is anticipating protests against books and recommending content adjustment based on those anticipations.

Threats to Academic & Intellectual Freedom

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

At the “Academic and Intellectual Freedom Climate on Campus…” program at ALA, Jim Neal of Columbia University presented the audience with a list of 24 threats to these freedoms. With his permission, the list is reproduced below. Many of these threats are familiar to most of us, especially those related to the USA Patriot Act and to copyright law. Others, such as #7, #11, #14, #20, and #23, may not be as obvious. The possibility that Institutional Review Boards can “limit, alter, or undermine faculty research” (#20) stimulated discussion at the program as audience members expressed doubt that IRB’s are a threat to freedoms. Jim maintained that there can be biases among IRB members, just as such biases exist in editorial review boards. These are the 24 threats:

1. Modification of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
Expansion of nonconsensual release of student records to government officials
2. Modification of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Expansion of definition of business records to embrace library, bookstore and internet service provider transactions.
3. Colleges and universities asked to permit government agents, without court order, to intercept the wire or electronic communications of persons regarded as “computer trespassers.”
4. Expansion of surveillance, wiretaps, search warrants, pen/trap orders and subpoenas for access to information about individuals with reduced judicial checks and balances.
5. Expanded definition of “domestic terrorism” and potential impact on legitimate protest activity and threatened opening of surveillance of campus political and religious organizations.
6. Ability of U.S. courts to use intelligence obtained by foreign governments in ways that would otherwise be illegal and would limit international travel and communication of faculty and students.
7. Students and scholars from designated world areas will be subject to extraordinary surveillance and harassment, affecting ability to recruit and retain international students and researchers at U.S. colleges.
8. Introduction of video surveillance cameras and biometrics technologies to monitor and observe individual activities.
9. Harmful to Minors laws and ability of students to access information electronically and use academic library resources without parental consent or filters.
10. Expanding use of web pages, blogs, email, text messages, social forums raise new concerns about intellectual freedom and actions by governments and universities.
11. Globalization of education and research teams extends work of U.S. students and faculty into arenas with very different legal, cultural, and moral standards.
12. Political biases of teacher can undermine open debate in the classroom and threaten students with risk of embarrassment or punitive action.
13. Rapid increase in adjunct and contract faculty who may not enjoy same academic freedoms and protections as full-time, tenured faculty.
14. Creation of mass digitized databases of published content with risks of removal of content and monitoring of individual use.
15. Removal of books from library collections, content or links from publisher databases and organizational web sites because of objections raised. Or failure to develop collections or select materials in balanced way.
16. Copyright balance being eroded and access to information being reduced by:
a. Technological Protection Measures/Anti-Circumvention
b. Limitations on Fair Use
c. Increased Personal and Institutional Liabilities
d. Terns of Protection Expanded
e. Private Law of Contract Dominant
f. Public Domain Constrained
17. Government information being withdrawn from agency web sites and removed from depository collections, thus reducing flow of information to public.
18. Refusal of publishers or editorial boards to accept manuscripts on controversial topics and the future viability of the peer review process.
19. Corporate or military funding of faculty research can alter priorities, influence results, limit distribution and raise concerns about integrity of scholarship.
20. Institutional review boards focused on human subject, treatment of animals, and other compliance monitoring can limit, alter, or undermine faculty research.
21. Government contract offices are asserting control over research results and demanding right to review before publication.
22. Federal funding agencies are raising concerns about “sensitive” research results being disclosed, creating a new form of “classified” information.
23. Open access policies and institutional copyright policies may limit publishing and distribution rights of faculty.
24. Slippery Slopes:
Legally Permissible versus Morally Responsible
Individual Rights versus Institutional interests
Culture Wars/Speech Codes/Political Correctness
Computer Appropriate Use Policies
Community Standards/Family Values
National Security/Patriotism

–Doris Ann Sweet

ACRL IFC Program at Annual

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

Academic and Intellectual Freedom Climate on Campus:
Are Our Freedoms Secure in the Next Generation?

Saturday, July 11, 2009
3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
Hyatt Regency McCormick, Conference Center Room 10 C/D

Four panelists will explore threats to freedoms on our campuses, how to inspire students to discover and explore intellectual freedom as central to the teaching and learning experience, the importance of teaching students to be the next generation of intellectual freedom and First Amendment defenders, and how academic librarians can form partnerships and mount effective campaigns to keep the fight for freedoms alive while engaging students in the process.


James Neal, Vice President for Information Services and University Librarian, Columbia University and Freedom to Read Trustee

Megan Fitzgerald, Program Director, Center for Campus Free Speech, Chicago, IL

Barbara Fister, Professor and Academic Librarian, Gustavus Adolphus College

Shawn Healy, Managing Director, McCormick Freedom Museum, Chicago, IL

White House launches

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

The federal government’s new website, part of President Obama’s Open Government Initiative, “increases the ability of the public to easily find, download, and use datasets that are generated and held by the Federal Government.” While the site currently provides only a sample of federal datasets from a relative handful of government agencies such as the CDC and FDA, the true benefit of the project (which does plan growth over time) is the manner in which the data can be viewed. Datasets can be obtained in either XML, CVS/TXT, KML/KMZ or ESRI, and are sometimes available in multiple formats (including maps and visualizations).

– X. Avalos

Intellectual Freedom in the News

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

Supreme Court ruling upholds sanctions on “fleeting expletives.”

This is the court’s first ruling on federal anti-indecency policy since 1978. Questions the ruling raised in regards to the First Amendment (including the nuances of the use of expletives) were passed on to lower courts to decide.


Antitrust inquiry into Google Book is opened


And for association-level news, the Office of Intellectual Freedom has compiled a list of the work of various ALA divisions in a handy-dandy blog post.

– compiled by X. Avalos