Following on the heels of the recent news about libraries that are “collecting” web pages on crucial data before the next presidential administration can delete them (or something like that), the American Library Association has upped its antagonism game by apologizing for its “normalization” of the upcoming President’s role. But more important than any opinions or apologies, libraries are already taking action in the face of the current political climate.

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PEOTUS Donald Trump campaigned on a platform that included promises like building a wall to keep illegal immigrants from crossing the country’s southern border, establishing a Muslim registry for US citizens and immigrants, blocking immigration from so-called “dangerous” parts of the world, “punishment” for women who seek legal reproductive choice care, and much more. These issues, while certainly inflammatory, were obviously acceptable to the candidate’s voting block.

Therefore, institutions like the New York Public Library have made important changes to their privacy policies, namely in how they will gather information on patrons’ computer use and what will prompt the library to turn that data over to law enforcement.

“Sometimes the law requires us to share your information, such as if we receive a valid subpoena, warrant, or court order. We may share your information if our careful review leads us to believe that the law, including state privacy law applicable to Library Records, requires us to do so.”

The library immediately points out near the top of its policy page that New York law prohibits them from sharing information on which books patrons have checked out, but that they would treat this information as confidential regardless of the law.

Interestingly, the American Library Association faced backlash from its member-libraries after issuing a press release promising to work with the new Presidential administration. Some members took this as a sign that libraries would be encouraged or even required to comply with controversial and invasive demands, such as data gathering or surveillance of patrons’ library use. The ALA quickly dispelled that statement and gratefully acknowledged the outrage its members expressed.

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