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05 July 2006


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Um, how would his circ records help with their case?


Dunno. I guess if he was checking out smutty stuff or something? That part didn't make much sense to me, either, but apparently it's legal for them to look at his records if they get a subpeona.


Basically, the child in question remembered the title of the book the man was carrying, and the police asked for a list of people with that book checked out. Without a subpoena. Library policy says they only give that info out *with* a subpoena, and the librarian was following the policy correctly.

There's another northjersey.com link from here:


that should make more sense.


Thanks, Lisa. That makes MUCH more sense.


It definitely makes sense now.

Liz B.

Between being from NJ and a former lawyer, I'm quite interested in this particular case. I'm trying to track down accurate information on this story, and have read conflicting reports of even the most basic "facts."

All that I've read agree that the child saw the man holding a library book, gave that title to the police, so the police came looking for who checked out that particular title. (I have no idea what the title was)

After the subpoena was gotten, it turned out that the library didn't own that title. (For the record, I have no idea WHY MR couldn't have said this from the beginning, as simple library ownership of a title isn't privileged; maybe this failure to say from the start that they didn't own the book is part of the problem?) so the police requested additional information, this time for anyone who had checked out a book on the day in question or the previous 10 days, and Reutty said that wasn't covered by the first subpoena and wanted a second subpoena.

The 2 things I've read that may be a problem: whether Reutty was relying on state statue or the state library association concerning the subpoeana; that the state rules about subpoenas may not reflect the statute, so MR is in trouble for being more stringent by following NJLA rules rather than for following the existing law. (I haven't looked up and compared the 2 to see if there are differences or whether the differences are significant; I'm just repeating this argument that it's not about her following existing law.).

The second thing, is that MR called NJLA (the state association) and spoke to their lawyer about how to handle this matter, rather than following library procedure and calling the library's own attorney. (For the record, I have no idea what her library procedure is; again, the issue being not what the lawyer said, but that she allegedly failed to follow her library's own policy about how to handle a police investigation.)


Apparently the police don't care about the "slippery slope", wherein if librarians give way to one request, it makes it harder to give in to the next and the next and the next.


WOW, Liz B. That was awesome. Thank you.

Yeah -- It seems like it would have been so simple for the Library Director to tell the police that the library didn't have that book. And it wouldn't have been any sort of breach of privacy or anything -- it might have even resulted in them dropping the 'library records' line of investigation. Weird.

Liz B.

Leila, as I said, it's been a bit hard to get the full details, probably because some things are confidential (either for the police investigation itself or for the the Library Director's own hearing.) For example, one paper says that 36 hours elapses before MR "provided police with the information they requested"; but does that date from the time she recieved the subpoena? Or before? And which subpoena?

Another paper said complying with the second subpeona "required a special computer program by the Bergen County Cooperative Library System. Police found the information right away, which helped them to identify the suspect." Does "special computer program" account for the 36 hours?

So now I'm wondering about the time it took MR to comply with the subpoena and if that's what is pissing people off; and did it take the time because of the computer program? Was the delay within her control?

I think patron privacy is very important; so I really want to figure out why, when MR appeared to follow the letter of the law, she's being slammed. If people don't like the law, going after someone who has done nothing but follow the law isn't going to change the law.

Now I wonder if its the perceived delay, which may or may not have been within her control.

J. L. Bell

So the police couldn't use the library catalogue to determine that it didn't own the book in question? I can search that library catalogue, and I'm not even in Jersey!

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