Google Book Search article

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Tue Jan 6 15:09:19 UTC 2009

Good for Harvard!  But other libraries didn't
(discard) until 9/11.  I'm sure I read articles
on this at the time.  And a quick search of the
NYTimes archives (for "9/11 library patron information") yielded the following:

November 23, 2001 - By DAVID E. ROSENBAUM. A
Competing Principles Leave Some Professionals
Debating Responsibility to
Government.  "Librarians' assertion of the
principle of confidentiality may seem trivial to
some people compared with similar stands by, say,
doctors or priests. But librarians take it very
seriously -- so seriously that in most libraries
nowadays, once a book is returned, the record of
who checked it out is expunged. Forty-eight
states have laws that protect the privacy of
library patrons."  I take the "most libraries" to
mean that some DID retain such records, and the
"Forty-eight" to mean that 2 states did NOT.

September 28, 2003 - By Margaret Talbot.  THE WAY
WE LIVE NOW: 9-28-03; Subversive Reading.  An
excerpt:  "It's clear, too, that some librarians
are enjoying their newfound membership in the
resistance. Some have reported that they are
purposely shredding borrowing records. Others are
reminding patrons that if they return books on
time, their records are purged automatically,
which must strike library workers as a lovely
synchronicity of civil libertarian and
housekeeping goals. Still others are considering
how to refuse to cooperate if they are actually approached by the government."

May 31, 2006 - By ALISON LEIGH COWAN.  Four
Librarians Finally Break Silence in Records
Case.  [If the Connecticut libraries at which
these 4 librarians worked did NOT retain patron
checkout records, it would seem pointless for the
Justice Dept. to have demanded them via "national security letters".


At 1/6/2009 09:52 AM, Wilson Gray wrote:
>Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit
>Content-Disposition: inline
>*Long* before 9/11, it was the custom among libraries to discard all
>information connnecting patrons and material used by those patrons
>ASAP and to refuse to disclose that information, absent a court order
>at the very least, during the period of its availability.
>That was and is the practice of the library system at Harvard and I
>have no reason to consider Harvard to be unique in this respect.
>All say, "How hard it is that we have to die"---a strange complaint to
>come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
>-Mark Twain
>On Tue, Jan 6, 2009 at 8:32 AM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at> wrote:
> > ---------------------- Information from the
> mail header -----------------------
> > Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> > Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> > Subject:      Re: Google Book Search article
> >
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> >
> > At 1/5/2009 03:49 AM, Jesse Sheidlower wrote:
> >>A nice article from the NYT on what the changes in Google
> >>Books will do for accessibility, with a leadoff anecdote
> >>featuring our own Ben Zimmer:
> >>
> >>
> >
> >  From the article:  "Mr. Clancy was monitoring search queries
> > recently when one for "concrete fountain molds" caught his attention.
> > The search turned up a digital version of an obscure 1910 book, and
> > the user had spent four hours perusing 350 pages of it."
> >
> > Does that mean that Google knows every book I've looked at via Google
> > Books?  And for how long does Google keep that information?  After
> > the post-9/11 security acts many non-online libraries began
> > discarding any information connecting users to books soon after they
> > no longer needed it.
> >
> > Joel
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > The American Dialect Society -
> >
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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