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Ltryptophan's avatar

What if there was a professional librarian position that required a vow of secrecy equivalent attorney/client privilege?

Asked by Ltryptophan (10835points) December 20th, 2010

Librarians helping people on a whole new level. Research help that’s honest, and confidential. These are qualities that I would think are very becoming a librarian.

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7 Answers

wundayatta's avatar

So I’m not supposed to tell anyone else what you are studying?

Well, in my case, it would hurt the acquisition of knowledge. I couldn’t network people any more. I’d probably become pretty useless.

talljasperman's avatar

maybe you are talking about something like the presidents secret library that the Library of Congress is supposed to have… you know the one from National Treasure 2 or use this link

BarnacleBill's avatar

The Patriot Act includes a feature where, if asked for information about someone by the government, the person must give information. If they decide that they want to consult an attorney about the request, they are immediately sent to prison without due process. A group of librarians in CT took on the FBI on this issue in 2005–2007. WaPo article

SuperMouse's avatar

The American Library Association has a Code of Ethics that all librarians should follow. As a reference professional I am bound by that code to help my patrons find the information they require without prejudice and to keep their requests strictly confidential.

Mouse forwards this question to janbb.

janbb's avatar

Yes – waht @SuperMouse and @BarnacleBill have said is true. Librarian are bound by a professional code not to reveal what patrons have been searching for on computers or what books they have checked out. There were protests about the provisions in the Patriot Act that allowed FBI agents to search library records. Often circulation records are destroyed once the book has been brought back for this very reason.

@wundayatta It does not mean that you cannot discuss research topics with others; of course not. It just means that you are not supposed to reveal individual’s private records to authorities. However, there was a time when a student was making bomb threats and had left a dubious site open on a computer. A student reported it to me, I told the director and the police removed the computer to try to identify that student.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

In Canada, where many more personal freedoms still exist, a professional in Library Science would probably refuse, on principle, to have their work so constrained. It would make then close to useless and would make their work so stressful, they would probably resign their positions rather than submit to such draconian contraints on what they do.

flutherother's avatar

I worked in a public patent library for a time providing patent documents to companies and patent agents. Knowing what lines of research companies are pursuing is potentially commercially sensitive and so their enquiries are kept confidential.

Library records are computerised and governed by the Data Protection Act in the UK which makes it illegal to provide data to any third party. There is an exemption if the information is required to detect or prevent a crime but I have never known it be used, but then the records being centralised this could probably be done without the librarian’s knowledge.

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