"PELHAM MANOR – Someone at the Pelham [NY] Public Library tattled on a teen researching gun carry and concealment laws, which led to the 11th-grader being called into the high school assistant principal’s office and being interviewed by police, police said.
The unidentified student was called to Assistant Principal Lynn Sabia’s office Tuesday after someone from the public library called the school, saying the teen had ordered a book on concealing a gun.
‘It is not our procedure to notify somebody,’ about the books people order, library Director Patricia Perito said Wednesday, the day after the incident. But, she said, she had to look into it. Since then, Perito has declined to provide any explanation of the incident or information on the instructions the library has regarding notifying authorities about questionable book choices."
Is this weird, or what? Apparently, it didn’t stop there, but went on to the police. "Pelham Manor police Detective Ken Campion said the teen was doing research on gun carry and concealment laws, not on how to conceal a gun…. There was not anything to be worried about with regard to the teen, Campion said after interviewing him Tuesday. He did not break any laws." He didn’t, but somebody did.
According to one of the comments on this article, the busybody in the library who called the school does this sort of thing all the time. It’s not clear if the person is actually a librarian, but it doesn’t matter that much. The director doesn’t seem too upset about it, and presumably she’s a librarian. She should have trotted out a high-minded speech about the ALA and privacy issues and told everyone she was going to fix this problem immediately!
The busybody might not be the brightest bulb in the library. Kids who carry guns to school to murder their peers generally aren’t concerned with laws. If you’re going to start randomly shooting people, you’re probably not too worried about being arrested for carrying a concealed weapon.
The school’s safe from this kid, though. "Pelham Manor school’s spokeswoman, Angela Cox, said calling police was ‘a responsible step,’ but added that they were sure the student posed no threat and remained in school."
That’s certainly a relief, but I wonder if Ms. Cox realizes that in addition to it being a "responsible step," which I highly doubt, it’s also possibly an illegal step? Perhaps Detective Campion is unaware of the New York State law on the issue. Here it is, for the curious:
"NEW YORK CONSOLIDATED LAW
NY CLS CPLR § 4509 (2001)
§ 4509. Library records
Library records, which contain names or other personally identifying details regarding the users of public, free association, school, college and university libraries and library systems of this state, including but not limited to records related to the circulation of library materials, computer database searches,interlibrary loan transactions, reference queries, requests for photocopies of library materials, title reserve requests, or the use of audio-visual materials, films or records, shall be confidential and shall not be disclosed except that such records may be disclosed to the extent necessary for the proper operation of such library and shall be disclosed upon request or consent of the user or pursuant to subpoena, court order or where otherwise required by statute."
It seems to me that calling up this kid’s school to tell them what this kid checked out would be considered a disclosure of library records. I suppose the busybody could claim she didn’t disclose the "record" because she saw the kid check out the book herself or something like that, but I doubt that argument would go very far. We can all get upset that the library worker violated our professional ethics in some way, but professional ethics don’t carry any weight, which is why nobody pays any attention to them. However, she also seems to have violated New York law. Some of the commenters think the person making the call should be fired. Perhaps. Then after that, maybe she should be arrested.
Though maybe I’m wrong on this one. Doesn’t this seem like a pretty clear violation of the law? Why hasn’t the director said more about it? Then again, what do I care. I don’t live in Pelham.
However, if you care, go ahead and contact them for more information. They’ve got their email address right on the website. Heck, they even have a blog: the Pelham Library News. The Webtamer would be so proud! Of course there’s no news about this issue, because it hasn’t been updated since December. It’s a pity, since a possible violation of NY law by one of their library staff would be some juicy Pelham Library News.