On April 11, Wesleyan’s Olin Memorial Library will host “All Your Reading Habits Belong to Us: Digital Privacy and our Government: Catching Up with the Connecticut Four” in honor of National Library Week. The event, presented by the Friends of the Wesleyan Library, will take place 7-8:30 p.m. in the Smith Reading Room, with a reception to follow.
In 2005, the FBI, under the auspices of the USA PATRIOT Act, tried to access patron information from Connecticut libraries and issued a gag order on the librarians about the demand. The librarians, all executive members of the Connecticut non-profit cooperative Library Connection, and known in the press as the “Connecticut Four,” spent over a year fighting the order, and were successful in getting the FBI to withdraw.
Now, over a decade later, the Connecticut Four are speaking out again as new efforts are afoot to expand the FBI’s ability to require libraries to hand over private information in the absence of a judge’s order. This event celebrates all libraries’ continued fight for both access of material and the right to privacy. Two members of the Connecticut Four, Barbara Bailey and Peter Chase, will participate in a discussion with Dan Cherubin, Wesleyan University Librarian, on the history of the case, what’s changed and, in regards to our newly elected government, what we need to watch.
Barbara Bailey is director of the Welles-Turner Memorial Library in Glastonbury, Conn. She is a former president and current board member of the Library Connection, a non-profit cooperative of 30 public and academic libraries, which share an integrated library system (CONNECT) and other technological innovations. Peter Chase was director of the Plainville (Conn.) Public Library from 1981-2015. He was vice president of Library Connection in 2005 and is also the former chairman of the Connecticut Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee. Both Bailey and Chase received the Paul Howard Award for Courage from the American Library Association.
The event will also feature announcement of the winners of the Friends of the Wesleyan Library Undergraduate Research prize. The candidate projects were evaluated based on the use of Wesleyan’s library collections and resources, evidence of learning about research techniques and the information-gathering process itself, and the quality of writing and research.