Library denies police request

An ugly situation in IA. Ankeny Iowa police needed information on a missing teen-age girl and asked Ankeny\'s Kirkendall Public Library staff for help. The library staff refused, citing a state law that requires all library transactions to be confidential. Luckily the girl turned up a couple days later. The Full Story is at The Des Moines Register

\"Libraries are places for free intellectual inquiry. They\'re not places for you to be watched,\" said Barbara Mack, an Iowa State University journalism professor.


\"It seems like there\'s publication of just about everything: credit cards, bank accounts, you name it. If the library is still able to keep this stuff confidential, more power to them,\"
Library patron Elden Bucher
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Mack has talked to librarians in small settings and through Iowa Library Association meetings about the Ankeny case, urging library leaders to update confidentiality policies for the state\'s 540 libraries.


\"That brought the issue to the forefront. Relatively few libraries have policies that would deal with police inquiry,\" Mack said.


Chris Joslin of Des Moines, an Ankeny library patron, said she supports the confidentiality law.


\"I\'d prefer to keep it private. I think if it wasn\'t private, you\'d have people who would choose not to use the library,\" Joslin said.


Library patron Elden Bucher of Ankeny said he didn\'t realize library records were confidential. He\'s glad they are.


\"It seems like there\'s publication of just about everything: credit cards, bank accounts, you name it. If the library is still able to keep this stuff confidential, more power to them,\" Bucher said.

Scranton, the Ankeny police chief, disagrees. \"I think we ought to have free access,\" he said.

Internet chat rooms, for example, can be a dangerous tool for pedophiles, Scranton said.

\"The simple fact is that these kids can get into a chat room and talk to someone that in their mind is their age, when in fact, they may be building a rapport with a pedophile,\" he said.


Mack said Iowa\'s law, enacted in 1983, means parents can\'t be told by library staff what books their children check out. A man can\'t pick up a book requested by his wife. All library records are confidential.

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