Parents need access to kids' library records

Posted: Thursday, March 11, 2004

Have you ever wondered when in history it was decided that librarians' views on privacy somehow trumped parents rights? Were you at that meeting? We missed it.

It turns out that libraries across the state do not have to tell parents whether junior is studying how to make explosives, cook up crack, commit suicide or understand the finer principles of devil worship. They have, after all, their privacy.

One librarian said allowing parents to know such things would allow them ''to wield an 'iron glove'" over their children, the local daily reports. Good grief.

Wasilla Republican Sen. Lyda Green is pushing legislation that would give parents the right to view their children's library records in all public libraries. They already can look at those records in school libraries.

It is a great idea, and unsurprisingly, Green's legislation is speeding through the Legislature on a fast track.

Green says the measure in part was prompted by a call from a mother in the Mat-Su Borough whose 8-year-old son put several books on hold. When one became available, the library called and the mother asked what it was, but the library refused to tell her anything about the book because of privacy concerns.

Some librarians are not happy with Green's legislation. Michael Catoggia, president of the Alaska Library Association, says Senate Bill 269 is intrusive.

Intrusive? What truly is intrusive is librarians deciding that what they want somehow is more important than a parent's absolute need to know. Well, librarians might say, if you want to know about your children's reading habits, just ask them. Do they really believe that a child checking out books sure to make mom or dad edgy will just own up when asked? It's enough to make you wonder whether folks who say such things are just naive or have never had children.

The problem with this nation today, compounded by government interference in the family, is that too many parents have abdicated their role as the ''iron glove'' in their children's lives. Too many parents, it seems, could not care less about what their kids are reading or whether they are reading at all. But those who do care, those who understand that information is a powerful tool in helping to guide their kids through the dangerous rocks and shoals of childhood, should not be denied library records.

What the librarians opposed to Sen. Green's measure do not seem to get is that parents, and parents alone, are responsible for their children. Overzealous librarians overstep when they interfere in that relationship.

Sen. Green's legislation will go a long way toward restoring parents' rights in this particular area.

She should be commended.

The Voice of the (Anchorage) Times

March 1

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