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Quick, Someone Call the American Library Association:
Over at Crooked Timber, Kieran Healy has obtained library records that identify the reading habits of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito. Can a Firestone Library Privacy Protection Act be far behind?
John Hawkins (mail):
A while back some local librarians in WA state were complaining the FBI had requested library records. Oh, the librarians were in a tizzy. How dare the FBI! Invasion of privacy! Police state!

My question was - why were the librarians keeping records anyway? Sure, they need to know who has a book checked out right now, in case the person forgets to bring it back. But once the book's turned in, why keep a record of who checked it out? Why are the librarians spying on us?

Well, I'm sure they don't think of it as spying, but funny how those "reading lists" suddenly become critically private data when the FBI asks for them.
1.10.2006 2:51pm
Tuch (mail):
I'm surprised Alito checks books out of the library. I would assume he'd buy books to read rather than check them out. In any case, I'd love to see what he checks out!
1.10.2006 4:02pm
Shelby (mail):
So it's OK for just anyone to examine a judge's library records, but objectionable when federal investigators want to examine a suspect's library records? I'm not staking out a position on this, but Kieran's actions here don't make me feel all warm and fuzzy.
1.10.2006 4:50pm
Kieran (mail) (www):
Shelby, I think you need to go read my post. Orin was joking when he said I "obtained" Alito's library records. I just accidentally discovered that an old library card in my garage (which I'd picked up several years ago at Princeton for other reasons altogether) quite by chance happened to have Alito's name on it. That's all. Just sheer serendipity -- until last night I had no idea that Alito's name was on the card, and it was also completely by chance that I even bothered to dig out the card and look at it. No mystery, and certainly no systematic effort on my part to "examine a judge's library records." So lighten up.
1.10.2006 5:55pm