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Law Library News

Law Library News Archive

April 17, 2005.
Kristy Moon, editor.

USA PATRIOT Act and Libraries

--Jorge Juarez, Law Library Intern

The USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 is in the news again.

While most of the law is permanent, fifteen provisions are set to expire in December unless they are renewed. FBI Director Robert Mueller recently joined Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in seeking that all of these temporary provisions be renewed. Included in the PATRIOT Act is a controversial section known as the “library provision.” Critics say that the government could use this section to subpoena library records and snoop into innocent Americans’ reading habits.

The resources listed below are intended to guide anyone seeking further information on the PATRIOT Act’s “library provision” and its potential implications on library policymaking.

Background Sources

American Library Association, Analysis of the USA PATRIOT Act Related to Libraries. April 2002. Provides a plain-language explanation of the sections of the PATRIOT Act most relevant to libraries. Available at

Kathryn Martin, The USA PATRIOT Act’s Application to Library Patron Records, 29 J. Legis. 283 (2003).  Includes an excellent discussion of the potential problems with the PATRIOT Act in libraries, specifically the “chilling effect” it may have on patrons. Available on Hein Online, LexisNexis, and Westlaw.

Primary Sources

Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, Pub. L. No. 95-511, 92 Stat. 1783 (codified in scattered sections of 18 and 50 U.S.C.).

Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT) Act of 2001, Pub. L. No. 107-56, 115 Stat. 272 (codified in scattered sections of 5, 8, 10, 12, 15, 16, 18, 21, 22, 28, 31, 42, 47, 49 and 50 of the U.S.C.).

Secondary Sources

Herbert N. Foerstel, Refuge of a Scoundrel: The PATRIOT ACT in Libraries (2004).  Traces the history of the PATRIOT Act and its potential effects on libraries and their patrons. KF4315.F64 2004 at Classified Stacks.

Mary Minow, Library Records Post-PATRIOT Act (Federal Law), Law Library Resource Exchange (Sept. 16, 2002).  Provides an excellent overview of the statutes amended by the PATRIOT Act via a chart of court orders, type of information, legal standard, legal authority, and notes. Available at

Lee Strickland et al., PATRIOT in the Library: Management Approaches When Demands for Information are Received from Law Enforcement and Intelligence Agents, 30 J.C. & U.L..363-415 (2004). Thorough coverage and includes a sample library policy. Available on Westlaw.

Online Resources

American Civil Liberties Union, PATRIOT Act is listed as one of the “hot topics” on the website which includes links to summary and analysis, audio archive, and a variety of ACLU publications

American Library Association, Provides links to a tip sheet, background information, sample guidelines, selected bibliography, and all of the ALA’s PATRIOT Act-related publications.

University of Washington Libraries, Taking Back America: USA PATRIOT Act and Civil Liberties Information and Resources (2003), Good source for links to a variety of organizations, government documents, and sections focusing on the relationships between the PATRIOT Act and both libraries and universities.

Library Lingo 101

--Stacy Etheredge, Law Library Intern

As we begin trudging our way through another dreary, er, that is, as we sprightly go forth into another stimulating quarter, it's time to turn our attention to what we here at Gallagher Law Library can do to help make your life slightly more bearable than the abyss of agony, tension, and fatigue that it is now.

It has come to my attention that sometimes we librarians can get a little clannish, some might say cultish, with our professional lexicon and that this can often confuse and annoy our patrons. We are most definitely against confusion and annoyance. 

So to see if this rumor is true, I have decided to provide you with the following survey. If I evaluate the results and see that, indeed, librarians have been creating an atmosphere of vocabulary vexation, then I will be filled with librarian mortification (you do not want to witness this) and will set about to change our ways. I’ll probably suggest reading a lot of books, holding a lot of meetings, and sending a lot of emails back and forth, etc., as is our wordy way, but eventually I may bring about change.

So, please, advance the happiness of library patrons everywhere and fill out the following survey. And remember, if you are using the library and someone uses an unfamiliar word, then make a librarian's day and ask them what it means. We're so simple that way!

The Gallagher Library Lingo Survey

“Classified stacks” refer to:

  1. place where we keep books that are so top secret we’d have to kill you if we showed them to you
  2. part of the Library’s collection which is arranged by a subject matter classification system (e.g., KF240 .H2) and has materials that are available to be checked out.

“Interlibrary loan” is:

  1. loan of $20 from one library to another so the second library can have lunch
  2. service which allows patrons to obtain from other libraries materials not owned by the Library.

“Microfiche” is:                                                                                                                       

  1. really tiny sea animals swimming around in really tiny ponds
  2. sheet of film on which a printed book, journal, or other publication has been reduced in size.

When you hear the phrase “compact stacks,” you think of the area of the Library where there are:

  1. books which can be described as having short, solid physiques
  2. electronically operated moveable shelves where the Library keeps bound volumes of law reviews, regional reporters, and court briefs.

When you hear the word “folio,” you:

  1. start humming song snippets from your favorite rapper, L.L. Folio
  2. head downstairs to the shelves where the Library keeps oversized books.

LegalTrac is:

  1. area of the gym which is set aside for lawyers and law students only
  2. database , linked from the Library’s website, that indexes over 800 English-language law reviews, legal newspapers and bar journals; and is a great tool for legal research.

When the online catalog gives you a “call number,” you:

  1. shout the number out loud and wait for one of the librarians to bring the book to you
  2. proceed to the correct classified area of the stacks and look for that number (e.g., KF1250 .S54) on the spines of the books to locate what you want.

When someone tells you to go to the "Circulation Desk," you think they mean:

  1. area where a librarian will massage your legs after you’ve lost all feeling in them from kneeling too long in the reference stacks
  2. area where you can check in books, check out books, get books that are on course reserves or being held for you, and ask general information questions about the Library

When you hear the phrase “bar code,” you:

  1. think about the secret password you need in order to request that “special drink” at your favorite bar
  2. think about the UPC labels on the back of the books and your Husky Card, which the Library uses to uniquely identify you and all of its materials.

Please send your answers to the “Librarian in Charge of Library Jargon” at

The librarians of the world are anxiously awaiting your revelations (I told you we were simple that way).