Legislature(2003 - 2004)

03/30/2004 03:06 PM House HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 269-PARENT ACCESS TO CHILD'S LIBRARY RECORDS                                                                               
Number 1440                                                                                                                     
CHAIR WILSON announced  that the next order of  business would be                                                               
SENATE BILL  NO. 269, "An Act  relating to access to  the library                                                               
records of a child by a parent or guardian."                                                                                    
Number 1464                                                                                                                     
SENATOR LYDA  GREEN, Alaska State  Legislature, as sponsor  of SB
269 presented the  bill and answered questions  from the members.                                                               
She  told the  members that  she introduced  SB 269  after having                                                               
conversations  with residents  in her  district who  had received                                                               
telephone  calls   from  the   local  library   concerning  their                                                               
children.  One was to say that  a book had arrived that the child                                                               
had on order.  The parent asked  for the name of the book and was                                                               
told that the  name of the book could not  be shared because that                                                               
was confidential information.  The  parent was also told that the                                                               
book  could not  be picked  up with  out the  child present.   In                                                               
another instance that telephone message  was left that there were                                                               
books overdue  and a  fine was  being imposed.   In this  case it                                                               
happened to  be the mayor  of Wasilla.   When she called  back to                                                               
get the names  of the books so  she could look for  them, she was                                                               
informed  that she  could not  have the  names of  the books  her                                                               
eight or  nine year  old child  had checked  out.   Senator Green                                                               
said that  she was sure  someone had misinterpreted what  the law                                                               
says  so   her  office   began  the   quest  to   determine  this                                                               
Number 1543                                                                                                                     
SENATOR  GREEN  explained  that current  law  allows  parents  to                                                               
access  children's library  records at  public school  libraries,                                                               
but public libraries  are not included in that  language so there                                                               
is an assumption that the law  does not include a public library.                                                               
The  Federal Education  Rights and  Privacy Act  (FERPA) requires                                                               
that parents do have the  right to access all educational records                                                               
of their children in a public  school.  This bill brings Alaska's                                                               
statutes into  conformity with FERPA  which provides  for parents                                                               
with  children under  the age  of 18  years old  to access  those                                                               
records,  she said.   Senator  Green pointed  out that  this bill                                                               
will  make public  library standards  conform  to school  library                                                               
standards.  She emphasized that  she would not want to discourage                                                               
anyone  from  reading, or  deny  anyone  the privacy  of  reading                                                               
whatever it is  he/she may wish.  It is  her concern that parents                                                               
have the right to access what  their children are reading.  There                                                               
is a real inconvenience for parents  to not have that access over                                                               
the telephone.   Senator Green  said she finds it  a disagreeable                                                               
issue that a  public library could have more  information about a                                                               
child's records than  a parent is entitled to.   There has been a                                                               
great  deal of  supportive correspondence.   She  added that  she                                                               
does  not want  to create  a  more difficult  process for  public                                                               
libraries  and understands  that there  is a  reason for  privacy                                                               
protection on  books that are  checked out  of the library.   For                                                               
instance, she  would not want  to see  a published list  of books                                                               
and the people who checked them out.                                                                                            
Number 1760                                                                                                                     
MARC   ANTRIM,   Commissioner,   Office  of   the   Commissioner,                                                               
Department of  Corrections, testified in  support of SB 269.   He                                                               
told the  members that he  is testifying  today as the  father of                                                               
Molly, his  18-year-old daughter who  is a voracious reader.   He                                                               
told the members  that this bill has special  significance to him                                                               
because it addresses  the concern of parental control.   There is                                                               
concern  about  movies and  TV  shows  that children  watch  with                                                               
respect  to  sexual and  violent  content.   Commissioner  Antrim                                                               
pointed out  that this bill will  give rights back to  parents to                                                               
monitor what children  are reading.  He pointed  out that parents                                                               
are financially  liable for  the books  their children  take out,                                                               
but currently  cannot know what  those books  are.  At  the other                                                               
end  of the  spectrum  he said  he wanted  his  daughter to  read                                                               
everything that  she could.  He  shared that at a  very early age                                                               
his daughter  received a library  card, she would reserve  a book                                                               
through their  home computer,  and he would  receive a  call when                                                               
the book  was in.  Then  one time he  went down to pickup  a book                                                               
for her and  he was advised that  she had to be with  me in order                                                               
to get the book.   He told the members that he  got into a heated                                                               
discussion and  realized it  was the  library's policy  and there                                                               
was  no  purpose in  arguing  about  it.    Later he  called  the                                                               
librarian and  made an arrangement  whereby a note was  placed in                                                               
the computer to  allow him to pickup his daughter's  books.  That                                                               
worked for a short while.   At a certain point that even stopped.                                                               
By the  age of 13 his  daughter stopped using the  public library                                                               
and  she  now uses  Amazon.COM  where  she  can buy  used  books.                                                               
Commissioner  Antrim told  the  members that  he  thinks this  is                                                               
wrong and is  a result of unintended consequences  of policies in                                                               
place now.   He pointed out  that Juneau's library is  not near a                                                               
lot of  neighborhoods and it was  convenient for him to  swing by                                                               
the  library on  the way  home and  pickup books.   He  urged the                                                               
members' support of SB 269.                                                                                                     
Number 1923                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO commented  if  library  books are  private,                                                               
maybe grades  should be private  too.   Most kids would  vote for                                                               
that.   The  current right  to  privacy from  parents on  library                                                               
books that  are checked out  has gone  beyond the point  of being                                                               
reasonable, he added.                                                                                                           
COMMISSIONER ANTRIM  agreed that  the current  law does  not make                                                               
Number 1970                                                                                                                     
DIANE KELLER, Mayor, City of  Wasilla, testified in support of SB
269.  She explained  that when her son was young  she got him his                                                               
own library  card to  teach him  about responsibility.   However,                                                               
there  came a  time  when  there were  books  that  needed to  be                                                               
returned and she wanted to find  out what was checked out so they                                                               
could be returned.   She was told that the  information could not                                                               
be provided to  her.  Mayor Keller said she  and her son searched                                                               
the house for any books that  were clearly library books, but did                                                               
not get them all.   The library then sent her  a bill for overdue                                                               
books her  son had checked  out and  listed every title  that she                                                               
was refused  to be  given on  the telephone  prior to  them being                                                               
overdue.  There  is an inconsistency in that she  can't know what                                                               
the  books  are  before  they   are  overdue,  yet  she  is  held                                                               
responsible for them later.                                                                                                     
MAYOR KELLER told  the members that she has  had numerous parents                                                               
complain to her  on this same issue.  She  has encouraged them to                                                               
contact their  legislature because  it is  a state  issue, rather                                                               
than a local one.  She told the members she supports the bill.                                                                  
Number 2102                                                                                                                     
ANDREE McCLEOD  testified in  support of  SB 269.   She  told the                                                               
members that  she is the parent  of a 21  year old and as  far as                                                               
she is concerned he still does not  have a right to privacy.  She                                                               
said that  she wants to  thank Senator  Green for taking  on what                                                               
might appear to  be an annoyance, but in all  actuality points to                                                               
an acrimonious public  policy that is adversarial  to parents and                                                               
guardians  of  children  under  the  age  of  18.    Ms.  McCleod                                                               
commented that she is appalled  at what prompted this legislation                                                               
and urged the members to support the SB 269.                                                                                    
Number 2212                                                                                                                     
ARTHUR WEEKS, Director,  Anchorage Municipal Libraries, testified                                                               
in opposition to SB 269  and answered questions from the members.                                                               
He explained that  he has been a librarian for  the past 28 years                                                               
and is the father  of two children, one who is now  an adult.  He                                                               
told the  members that for  all of  those years he  has protected                                                               
the rights  of privacy of  individuals who make reading  a matter                                                               
of personal  inquiry and who want  to take themselves on  a self-                                                               
directed individual educational path  that is free from oversight                                                               
of  the  state or  a  parent.   For  example,  a  child may  seek                                                               
information  at the  library  to help  them  through a  difficult                                                               
time,  whether  it  be  parental   abuse,  alcoholism,  or  other                                                               
conditions in which the child may not want parental oversight.                                                                  
MR.  WEEKS commented  that the  reason this  bill was  written is                                                               
that the  parent asked what  the child was  reading.  He  said he                                                               
wonders why  the parent didn't simply  ask the child.   Mr. Weeks                                                               
said  that  with  open  communication this  bill  should  not  be                                                               
necessary.   He said  that the  mission between  school libraries                                                               
and  public libraries  is very  different.   The  mission of  the                                                               
public libraries  is to provide  information and  inspiration for                                                               
people  to grow  and develop.    This bill  would undermine  that                                                               
mission, he added.   He said he understands why  parents want the                                                               
assistance of a  librarian guiding and coaching  children in what                                                               
their reading should  be.  At a  young age a child  should not be                                                               
at a library without their parent  anyway, he said.  When a child                                                               
reaches the teen years he/she should  be able to explore with the                                                               
same  kind  of  protection  to  privacy  as  that  offered  by  a                                                               
psychologist  or  health  care  provider.   Mr.  Weeks  told  the                                                               
members that  he strongly opposes this  bill.  It could  have the                                                               
same results as  the Patriot Act and the members  could find that                                                               
there are unintended consequences of this legislation.                                                                          
Number 2384                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO asked  if Mr.  Weeks is  familiar with  the                                                               
book titled "It is Only Natural."                                                                                               
MR.  WEEKS  said that  he  is  not  familiar  with it  and  asked                                                               
Representative Gatto to review if for him.                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO  said that it  is a very  controversial book                                                               
and has  been asked  to be  removed from  certain libraries.   It                                                               
treats sexuality very  factually and is full of  photographs.  He                                                               
said that it was available to children in elementary schools.                                                                   
TAPE 04-24, SIDE B                                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO told Mr. Weeks  that this book actually told                                                               
students how to have sex.  He asked  him if he did not think that                                                               
it might  be important  for parents  to know  if their  child was                                                               
checking out books such as this.                                                                                                
MR. WEEKS replied that  he is from the school that  if a child is                                                               
old  enough  to ask,  then  the  child is  old  enough  to get  a                                                               
responsible answer.   He commented  that his child, who  is about                                                               
11 years old, recently asked him about sex.                                                                                     
Number 2350                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE WOLF asked  if Mr. Weeks wouldn't  prefer that his                                                               
child ask him the question rather  than go to the library for the                                                               
answers.   He  asked him  if  he didn't  see this  as a  parent's                                                               
responsibility rather than some librarian who is a stranger.                                                                    
MR.  WEEKS said  that  he  has observed  that  his child  selects                                                               
reading matter  at the level  that he  can understand what  he is                                                               
reading and viewing.   He said he is not  worried that this would                                                               
bring harm to his child.                                                                                                        
KAY  JABUSCH,  Public  Librarian,  Irene  Ingle  Public  Library,                                                               
testified on SB 269.  She told  the members that she was born and                                                               
raised in Wrangell and has served  as the public librarian for 22                                                               
years.   Ms.  Jabusch explained  that her  concern lies  with the                                                               
fact that the library staff has  no way to determine which parent                                                               
or guardian may  have the legal right to  request the information                                                               
about their  child's library records.   She pointed out  that the                                                               
public library  does not  work under the  same conditions  as the                                                               
school  library.   There could  be  some liability  to the  staff                                                               
under the  proposed law, Ms.  Jabusch added.  She  summarized her                                                               
comments by  saying that  there has not  been one  instance where                                                               
the library staff has not been  able to work with the parents and                                                               
the child  with regard to the  books that were borrowed  from the                                                               
library.  The existing rules work, she added.                                                                                   
Number 2235                                                                                                                     
JUDITH  ANGLIN,  Library   Director,  Ketchikan  Public  Library,                                                               
testified  on SB  269 and  answered questions  from the  members.                                                               
She said  that she does  have parents  come into the  library and                                                               
request information about the books  their child has checked out.                                                               
It is  explained to them  that a  permission note from  the child                                                               
must be  placed on the child's  record saying it is  okay for the                                                               
parents to see the child's records.   Ms. Anglin told the members                                                               
that  once that  is done,  it remains  in place  until the  child                                                               
requests the permission note be  removed.  She emphasized that it                                                               
is not  that difficult a  situation to  work around.   Ms. Anglin                                                               
said that  the point needs to  be made that not  all families are                                                               
fully functional and  not all parents have  their children's best                                                               
interest  at  heart.   Sometimes  children  need protection  from                                                               
their  families.   Ms. Anglin  told the  members that  she agrees                                                               
with Kay Jaybusch's comments that  this puts public librarians in                                                               
an untenable  situation.  She  said she believes it  is important                                                               
that  young adults  are free  to seek  information without  their                                                               
parent's knowledge.   This could create a  difficult situation at                                                               
home, she added.  In summary,  she told the members that she does                                                               
not want to see librarians getting between parents and children.                                                                
Number 2148                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO asked if the  current law doesn't create the                                                               
environment that  puts the library  staff between the  parent and                                                               
the child, rather than avoiding it.                                                                                             
MS.  ANGLIN  replied  that  obviously she  has  a  difference  of                                                               
opinion.  She commented that a  parent can always ask their child                                                               
and the child can always ask  their parent.  Ms. Anglin said that                                                               
the librarian would prefer not  to be making these judgment calls                                                               
about who  is or is not  authorized to get this  information.  It                                                               
would be better  for the parent and child to  work it out between                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO asked  Ms. Anglin if she does not  see it as                                                               
a  judgment call  when denying  the right  for a  parent to  view                                                               
records.   He asked  which parent  would have  the right  to view                                                               
their child's  library records and  which parent would  loose the                                                               
right, if parents are not getting along.                                                                                        
MS. ANGLIN  responded that  there would  be no  way for  a public                                                               
librarian to  know that information.   It  is not possible  for a                                                               
librarian to  know which  parent has  custodial rights  and which                                                               
one does not.                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO  asked how  it  would  make any  difference                                                               
which parent  had custodial  rights.  Why  would one  parent have                                                               
that  right and  not the  other, he  asked.   Perhaps Ms.  Anglin                                                               
believes  that  it is  appropriate  for  her to  determine  which                                                               
parent has  the right and  which one does  not, in spite  of what                                                               
the noncustodial parent may want, he added.                                                                                     
MS. ANGLIN  said that she  does not  want to comment  because she                                                               
does not have the expertise to make that judgment.                                                                              
Number 2072                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA asked how often  it is necessary to explain                                                               
to parents that they must get their child's permission.                                                                         
MS.  ANGLIN responded  that it  probably  comes up  about once  a                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA asked how many people use the library.                                                                    
MS. ANGLIN  replied that  the library  lends about  200,000 items                                                               
per year.                                                                                                                       
Number 2010                                                                                                                     
JUNE PINNELL-STEPHENS,  Past President  and Board  Member, Alaska                                                               
Civil Liberties Union (AKCLU), testified  on AKCLU's behalf on SB
269  and answered  questions from  the committee.   She  told the                                                               
members that  in addition to her  work on the AKCLU  she has also                                                               
been a  public librarian for  more than  30 years.   Ms. Pinnell-                                                               
Stephens  shared that  she has  served  as the  President of  the                                                               
Alaska  Library Association  and  the  Pacific Northwest  Library                                                               
Association.  She stated that she  does not support the change in                                                               
the confidentiality records in SB 269.                                                                                          
MS.  PINNELL-STEPHENS explained  that  in  most libraries  before                                                               
children under  a certain age  can obtain their own  library card                                                               
parents must  sign a  form agreeing to  be responsible  for their                                                               
children's  use of  the  library.   Even if  this  form were  not                                                               
signed,  parents  are  still  responsible  for  their  children's                                                               
actions whether or  not the parent agrees with the  child or not.                                                               
Ms.  Pinnell-Stephens  said that  once  a  card has  been  issued                                                               
anyone can  use it.   She  commented that  parents can  use their                                                               
child's card to check out items  if they have forgotten their own                                                               
card or often because their  cards are blocked because the parent                                                               
has overdue material.                                                                                                           
MS.  PINNELL-STEPHENS pointed  out that  with this  bill all  the                                                               
records could  be divulged,  possibly to  a divorced  spouse, who                                                               
may or may  not have custody of  a child, but would  have a right                                                               
under this  change to view  the records.   Libraries that  do not                                                               
have  the  means  or  authority  to  unravel  complicated  family                                                               
relationships will  be placed in  the middle of a  custody battle                                                               
or divorce, particularly  when there is a disagreement  in how to                                                               
raise their children, she added.                                                                                                
MS.  PINNELL-STEPHENS  explained  that  all  libraries  send  out                                                               
notices on  overdue materials which provides  all the information                                                               
necessary for parents  to track down the material  and return it.                                                               
There may be fines  to pay, but they are capped  at a very modest                                                               
amount.   Many libraries, such  as the  one where she  works does                                                               
not charge fines at all, she added.                                                                                             
MS.  PINNELL-STEPHENS  said  that  she  believes  there  are  two                                                               
possible reasons  for this bill.   One  is to help  parents avoid                                                               
minor  inconveniences in  handling their  children's transactions                                                               
at the  library.   Parents who are  concerned about  fines should                                                               
work  with  the  local  library  to adjust  fines  or  have  them                                                               
eliminated, she  added.  Another  way to address this  problem is                                                               
to note the  number of books that are checked  out or designate a                                                               
special shelf at home for  easy identification.  Many states have                                                               
laws  which  allow  a  person to  authorize  release  of  his/her                                                               
records.  Ms.  Pinnell-Stephens said she would  support this kind                                                               
of amendment to  the bill.  She commented that  she heard Federal                                                               
Educational Records  Privacy Act (FERPA) mentioned  and explained                                                               
that this act  does not apply to public  libraries because public                                                               
libraries do not have students.                                                                                                 
MS.  PINNELL-STEPHENS offered  another possible  reason for  this                                                               
bill  is  to help  parents  control  the  content of  what  their                                                               
children  are  reading.     The  right  to   privacy  statute  is                                                               
guaranteed  in  the state's  constitution  and  one that  is  not                                                               
restricted by age.   She suggested that a better  way for parents                                                               
to handle this  kind of problem is to use  this as an opportunity                                                               
to discuss  what their  children are reading  and to  share their                                                               
values and  provide guidance.   She  said that  unfortunately for                                                               
many children  they are trapped  in grim family  situations where                                                               
the  library  is  the  only  source  of  information  or  solace.                                                               
Children may  check out books about  abuse to write a  report for                                                               
school, but they may also be victims of abuse.                                                                                  
Number 1859                                                                                                                     
MS. PINNELL-STEPHENS  summarized that there are  less restrictive                                                               
ways  to address  the inconvenience  to parents.   She  urged the                                                               
members to support the constitutional right to privacy.                                                                         
Number 1840                                                                                                                     
CHAIR  WILSON commented  that she  understands what  Ms. Pinnell-                                                               
Stephens is  saying about the  right to privacy.   If a  child is                                                               
being abused, the child likely would  not bring a book about that                                                               
subject  home.    She  said  that  she  is  having  a  hard  time                                                               
connecting the concern  about taking away rights  to privacy when                                                               
the child  could just  spend the  time in  the library,  read the                                                               
book, and not even check it out.                                                                                                
MS.  PINNELL-STEPHENS replied  that the  underlying principal  is                                                               
that minors have  the same constitutional rights as  adults.  She                                                               
said that the older a child  is, the more likely the courts would                                                               
uphold  the  rights  of  a  minor.   There  could  be  some  very                                                               
substantial challenges  on the  right to privacy  as well  as the                                                               
right to receive information.                                                                                                   
Number 1770                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  KAPSNER posed  a  hypothetical  question about  a                                                               
child who is a  ward of the state and in foster  care.  She asked                                                               
who would sign off for the child [to have a library card].                                                                      
MS. PINNELL-STEPHENS replied that she has no idea.                                                                              
Number 1740                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE   WILSON   commented   that  she   believes   that                                                               
librarians are  fearful of being held  liable because information                                                               
was released  to the  wrong parent.   She  asked if  Ms. Pinnell-                                                               
Stephens believes that  if this bill passes, a  librarian will be                                                               
held liable at some point.                                                                                                      
MS. PINNELL-STEPHENS responded  that it is possible  that at some                                                               
point librarians will be drawn  into a legal action because often                                                               
parents  do not  agree  on  how to  raise  their  children.   She                                                               
pointed to the U.S. Supreme Court  case that was argued last week                                                               
where  the "Under  God" phrase  in the  pledge of  allegiance was                                                               
discussed.   In this case  one parent took  the case to  the U.S.                                                               
Supreme Court, while the child and  mother did not agree with the                                                               
Number 1670                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  asked if she  has any citations  in Alaska                                                               
that  would relate  to the  right of  privacy, at  what age,  and                                                               
schools libraries vs. public libraries,  that might apply to this                                                               
MS.  PINNELL-STEPHENS replied  that  she does  not  have one  for                                                               
Alaska or  even the 9th  Circuit Court  of Appeals, but  would be                                                               
happy  to check  into  it and  get the  information  back to  the                                                               
committee if she finds something.                                                                                               
Number 1640                                                                                                                     
CHRISTINE   O'CONNOR,  Librarian,   Dillingham  Public   Library,                                                               
testified  on SB  269 and  answered questions  from the  members.                                                               
She told  the members  that she  believes this  bill needs  to be                                                               
amended   to   protect   the   teens   who   use   the   library.                                                               
Unfortunately, not  all teens  come from caring  homes.   In some                                                               
cases  the parents  are either  indifferent or  harmful to  these                                                               
young  adults.   She  explained  that  these  are the  teens  she                                                               
believes will  be harmed  if this  bill passes  as it  now reads.                                                               
Teens who  lose the privacy of  their library will be  losing the                                                               
security of  knowing that they can  come to the library  for safe                                                               
access to vital information.   Ms. O'Connor told the members that                                                               
girls  will come  to her  with a  stack of  books and  as she  is                                                               
checking  them  out,  she  will   realize  the  books  are  about                                                               
pregnancy.   While she knew  these teens and their  parents, each                                                               
time  she was  saddened to  realize that  these young  girls were                                                               
developing  an  understanding for  the  situation  they were  in.                                                               
These girls  almost always come  from sad homes, where  they have                                                               
virtually  raised themselves  because  of neglect  or abuse,  she                                                               
added.  In  small towns a visit to the  public health center does                                                               
not  go  unnoticed, she  said.    The  library allows  teens  the                                                               
ability to  get the  information needed  privately and  then they                                                               
can make decisions with a  little more information than they once                                                               
had.  In summary, Ms. O'Connor  urged the members to maintain the                                                               
privacy  sanctuary and  keep these  at  risk teens  in mind  when                                                               
hearing this bill.                                                                                                              
Number 1550                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO  asked if  teens ever  come to  the library,                                                               
read, and not check out books.                                                                                                  
MS.  O'CONNOR said  yes.   A  particular book  called "A  Woman's                                                               
Body" which  is not explicit,  but one  which she often  finds in                                                               
the  back corner  of the  library.   She said  that she  does not                                                               
agree with  an earlier comment that  kids that are at  risk would                                                               
not check out a  book on abuse and take it home.   Many kids will                                                               
leave the book in their backpack  or in their school locker.  She                                                               
said she  knows this because  at the end  of the school  year the                                                               
school will return some of the books to the public library.                                                                     
Number 1494                                                                                                                     
BARBARA BERG,  Director, Juneau Public  Library, testified  on SB
269 and answered questions from  the committee.  She provided the                                                               
members with  a copy  of the Patron  Right to  Privacy procedures                                                               
used by  the City and  Borough of  Juneau's public library.   Ms.                                                               
Berg  told the  member  that  while she  is  very sympathetic  to                                                               
parents'  interest   in  being   involved  in   their  children's                                                               
education  and reading,  she said  she believes  the best  way to                                                               
accomplish that  is for  parents to  discuss with  their children                                                               
what  they are  reading  and  learning in  school.    It is  also                                                               
important to go to the library  with them when they are young, so                                                               
that as they get older the parents can trust their judgments.                                                                   
Number 1422                                                                                                                     
MS. BERG told the members  that librarians are concerned not just                                                               
because  they would  be required  to reveal  the private  reading                                                               
matter  of children,  but  personal  registration information  is                                                               
also covered by this bill too.   She pointed out that a librarian                                                               
does not  know if the  person requesting the information  has any                                                               
right  to  that information.    It  could  be the  parent,  legal                                                               
guardian, or  some stranger  off the  street who  is representing                                                               
themselves as  a parent or guardian.   She noted that  these days                                                               
very  seldom  do  children  have  the same  last  name  as  their                                                               
parents.  There is no real  way for a librarian to establish that                                                               
the adult requesting the information  has any right to it without                                                               
requesting a birth certificate or passports.                                                                                    
MS. BERG  said that  she is concerned  with young  adults needing                                                               
sensitive  information  and  being   unwilling  to  engage  in  a                                                               
transaction in a public library  to take that material out unless                                                               
they have an expectation of confidentiality.                                                                                    
Number 1340                                                                                                                     
MS.  BERG referred  to the  Patron  Right to  Privacy policy  and                                                               
discussed the  way the  library enables parents  to see  what the                                                               
children have checked out.  The  parent can instruct the child to                                                               
request  a copy  of  the  material checked  out,  the parent  can                                                               
retain possession  of the  card, and  the parent  can do  all the                                                               
checkout for the  child on the child's card.   Ms. Berg explained                                                               
that if a  parent has the child's library card,  it is assumed to                                                               
be permission to  access library records and check  books out for                                                               
the child.   A signed note  can also be used  to pickup materials                                                               
for  a child.   She  said that  if someone  comes in  without the                                                               
library card  or note, and  the person is available  by telephone                                                               
then their verbal  agreement would allow books to  be checked out                                                               
for  the  child.   Ms.  Berg  told the  members  that  it is  the                                                               
library's position that  once a notice of overdue  books has gone                                                               
out, the  right of  privacy has been  lost because  the financial                                                               
responsibility has been transferred to the parent.                                                                              
MS.  BERG  commented  that  this   bill  would  extend  to  state                                                               
libraries as well.  She  said that 48 states disallow examination                                                               
of records  by anyone other  than the cardholder in  academic and                                                               
state  libraries.   Also, in  41  states someone  other than  the                                                               
cardholder  is   disallow  examination   of  records   in  public                                                               
CHAIR WILSON  clarified that whoever  has possession of  the card                                                               
has  access to  the records,  even  if the  card is  not in  that                                                               
person's name.                                                                                                                  
MS. BERG told  the members that in the Juneau  library system the                                                               
interpretation  of the  confidentiality law  provided to  them by                                                               
the city attorney indicates that the  contract is the card.  If a                                                               
parent has the  card in their possession there  is the assumption                                                               
that the  parent has been given  permission to see what  has been                                                               
checked out on that card, she  said.  This interpretation has not                                                               
been tested  in a court  of law, she  added.  Ms.  Berg explained                                                               
that the library was also told  on the advice of the city's legal                                                               
representation that when money is  owed or items are overdue, the                                                               
parent  may  see what  is  on  the  record  because they  have  a                                                               
financial responsibility.                                                                                                       
CHAIR WILSON  commented that before  a child gets a  library card                                                               
the  parent  must  sign  an   agreement  that  they  will  assume                                                               
financial  responsibility  for whatever  is  checked  out on  the                                                               
card.   So the parent can't  know what was checked  out; however,                                                               
if it is past due, then the  library will tell the parent what is                                                               
MS.   BERG  replied   that  is   correct,  because   a  financial                                                               
responsibility has been incurred at that point.                                                                                 
CHAIR WILSON asked  if this breaks the privacy  protection of the                                                               
MS. BERG responded that it  does not break the privacy protection                                                               
of the  child according  to the legal  advice the  libraries were                                                               
given by  the city attorney.   She  commented that there  is some                                                               
inconsistency  in how  this is  applied.   Ms. Berg  said that  a                                                               
previous speaker  appreciated that  a note  could be  attached to                                                               
the system, but unfortunately, the  current system does not allow                                                               
notes to be attached.  It is a software problem, she added.                                                                     
CHAIR  WILSON asked  for clarification  on her  comment about  41                                                               
MS.  BERG replied  that 41  states  do not  allow examination  of                                                               
library records by anyone other than the cardholder.                                                                            
Number 1046                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA asked how often this becomes an issue.                                                                    
MS. BERG  responded that she could  not say because she  does not                                                               
work at the  circulation desk.  She commented that  the only time                                                               
she hears about it  is when someone is upset about  it.  Ms. Berg                                                               
did say  that the example  that was given today  [by Commissioner                                                               
Antrim]  is the  only one  she recalls  since being  named acting                                                               
director in May  of last year.  The policy  is normally explained                                                               
to the parent  when they sign their child up  for a library card,                                                               
she added.                                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA asked  how a child normally  gets a library                                                               
MS. BERG  said the parent  comes in with the  child.  If  a child                                                               
comes in  and asks for  a card then a  guardian card is  given to                                                               
the child to take home for  signature.  The card is completed and                                                               
signed,  and then  brought back  to the  library where  the child                                                               
will receive a library card, she explained.                                                                                     
Number 0923                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO pointed  to  page 1,  lines  12 through  14                                                               
which reads:                                                                                                                    
(b) Records of a [PUBLIC  ELEMENTARY OR SECONDARY SCHOOL] library                                                               
identifying a [MINOR]  child under 18 years of age  shall be made                                                               
available on request to a parent or guardian of that child.                                                                     
MS. BERG responded that is correct.   She noted that this relates                                                               
to a public  elementary or secondary school library; it  is not a                                                               
public library.                                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO  clarified that parents can  get information                                                               
on books checked  out from a school library at  any time, but not                                                               
from a  public library.  He  asked Ms. Berg if  she believes that                                                               
is a distinction that is reasonable or beneficial.                                                                              
MS.  BERG replied  that she  does  believe it  is reasonable  and                                                               
beneficial because the public library  is an independent learning                                                               
environment.   She said she  believes it is  especially essential                                                               
when children  reach their teen years.   At this point  the teens                                                               
are using the library as adults to foster their own learning.                                                                   
Number 0828                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO  commented that there  are a lot of  TV adds                                                               
that ask  parents how they know  if their kids are  on drugs, and                                                               
the response  is that  they ask  their kids every  day.   He said                                                               
that  is an  add that  is promoting  parental involvement  in the                                                               
activities of  their children.  He  asked Ms. Berg if  that is in                                                               
keeping with the  situation where it is being  said that parental                                                               
involvement is not wanted.                                                                                                      
MS. BERG  responded that  is absolutely not  what she  is saying.                                                               
She clarified  that she does  want parental involvement  but said                                                               
she  does  not  believe  parental  involvement  should  occur  by                                                               
putting a  librarian between  a child and  his/her parents.   She                                                               
said she believes parents should  be talking with their children,                                                               
going to the library with  them, and should be constantly engaged                                                               
in their lives.  If a parent  is caring and involved in a child's                                                               
upbringing the child does not become secretive.                                                                                 
Number 0734                                                                                                                     
SENATOR  GREEN directed  the members'  attention to  the list  of                                                               
state's which  specifically say that  parents are  allowed access                                                               
to school library records.                                                                                                      
CHAIR WILSON asked how current the list is.                                                                                     
JACQUELINE  TUPOU,  Staff to  Senator  Lyda  Green, Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature, testified on SB 269  and answered questions from the                                                               
committee.    She   told  the  members  that   she  obtained  the                                                               
information from  the National  Conference of  State Legislatures                                                               
(NCSL) about three months ago.                                                                                                  
SENATOR  GREEN  continued to  explain  that  in eight  states  it                                                               
specifically says parents have access  to public library records,                                                               
14 states  provide for  students' library  records to  be private                                                               
and 23 states have no  laws specifically addressing children, but                                                               
provide for public library records  to be confidential.  She told                                                               
the members that she did further  research on the states that are                                                               
silent and  do not address  children's privacy rights.   However,                                                               
whenever there has  been a court process dealing  with this issue                                                               
the  courts have  sided with  the  parents' rights  to access  of                                                               
their children's records with respect to public libraries.                                                                      
CHAIR  WILSON clarified  that  according to  the  NCSL 13  states                                                               
allow  parental access,  14  states provided  for  records to  be                                                               
private,  and  23  state have  no  laws  specifically  addressing                                                               
children,  but   provide  for  public   library  records   to  be                                                               
MS.  TUPOU  provided  additional  clarification that  in  the  23                                                               
states  that do  not have  a  specific law  either way,  although                                                               
library  records are  confidential  there are  four incidents  of                                                               
case law that says  that if it came right down  to it the parents                                                               
have the right to the records  and children do not have rights of                                                               
privacy for the  library records.  She commented  that given this                                                               
case law  it could be  viewed that  these states did  not provide                                                               
for the children's records to be private.                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON pointed  out that  of the  13 states  that                                                               
provide parental  access, five of  those states  specifically say                                                               
access to  school library  records.   In the  case of  those five                                                               
states  the law  would not  apply to  public library  records, he                                                               
commented.   He  said  that  he believes  under  federal law  all                                                               
states  would have  to allow  access to  library records  for all                                                               
schools,  so those  five  states are  really  just mirroring  the                                                               
federal law.   Representative Seaton noted that  there are really                                                               
only eight  states that allow  for parental access  to children's                                                               
public library records.                                                                                                         
MS.  TUPOU  told  the  members   that  Representative  Seaton  is                                                               
referring  to  the  Family Educational  Rights  and  Privacy  Act                                                               
(FERPA)  which became  law in  1974.   In 2002  there was  a U.S.                                                               
Supreme  Court decision  which said  that the  federal government                                                               
needs to  be diligent about enforcing  this law.  As  a result an                                                               
office  called  the  Family  Compliance   Office  was  opened  to                                                               
specifically ensure that parents  have access to their children's                                                               
records, she explained.   A state that is not  in compliance will                                                               
lose all  federal education funding.   She suggested that  as the                                                               
office looks at each state  and its compliance, these issues will                                                               
be raised in other states as well.                                                                                              
SENATOR  GREEN  noted  that  this act  refers  to  public  school                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON commented that the numbers are consistent.                                                                
SENATOR GREEN reiterated  that there are 23 states  where the law                                                               
could apply.                                                                                                                    
Number 0406                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA  pointed out  that Alaska  has some  of the                                                               
strongest  privacy laws  in  the  nation.   She  shared that  she                                                               
taught her daughter the right to  privacy and dignity at an early                                                               
age.   If her daughter received  a library card at  an early age,                                                               
Representative Cissna said  she would have kept  the library card                                                               
herself.  Children who receive  and keep library cards themselves                                                               
probably do  not have the kind  of parents who would  be checking                                                               
what their children  read, until it was necessary to  pay a fine.                                                               
She  said that  she  likes  the idea  of  a  parent asking  their                                                               
children for permission because it is giving a child some power.                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CISSNA   asked  if  the   age  of  17   could  be                                                               
reconsidered   since    children   start   to   take    on   more                                                               
responsibility,  go places,  and  do  things on  their  own at  a                                                               
younger age.                                                                                                                    
NUMBER 0202                                                                                                                     
SENATOR   GREEN  responded   that   she  looked   at  the   FERPA                                                               
requirements  for consistency  purposes and  set the  age at  the                                                               
same level  as that  in federal  statute.   She pointed  out that                                                               
parent's still  have the financial responsibility  for overdue or                                                               
lost books  until the age  of 18.   Senator Green  commented that                                                               
children do  not have the right  to enter into contracts,  nor do                                                               
they have the right to give  their parents permission to do these                                                               
things.   That is  a distinction  that is being  made here.   She                                                               
told the  committee that civil  rights and rights to  privacy are                                                               
subject  to  interpretation,   particularly  where  parents  have                                                               
rights and a responsibility for  oversight.  Senator Green stated                                                               
that this bill  was not intended to become a  civil rights issue.                                                               
It is  to bring some  degree of reason  to daily life  in raising                                                               
children.   She reiterated the  frustration felt by  many parents                                                               
and  the  inflexibility of  many  libraries  which has  become  a                                                               
problem.   She noted  that the Juneau  model probably  works very                                                               
well in Juneau; however, she told  the members that no one should                                                               
have more  information about someone's  children than  the parent                                                               
TAPE 04-25, SIDE A                                                                                                            
Number 0040                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  CISSNA   responded  that  she   understands  what                                                               
Senator Green  is saying and  would normally agree with  her, but                                                               
in this case  the parent has signed a form  or contract that says                                                               
their child has  permission to check out items  from the library.                                                               
She said it  is her understanding that the rules  which relate to                                                               
this are clearly delineated on the form.                                                                                        
SENATOR GREEN said  that she believes that may only  apply to the                                                               
Juneau Public Libraries.                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA  commented that she  would like to  know if                                                               
that is the case.                                                                                                               
MS. TUPOU shared  that Senator Green's office has  talked to many                                                               
libraries across  the state who  have a variety of  approaches to                                                               
this issue.   She  said that  when the parents  do sign  the form                                                               
agreeing to be  legally responsible for the books,  what they are                                                               
really signing  is that  they are  legally responsible  for their                                                               
child's  actions with  respect to  the items  checked out  of the                                                               
library.   So  what this  legislation is  saying is  that parents                                                               
have access to what they are legally responsible for.                                                                           
MS. TUPOU told  the members that she has  talked extensively with                                                               
Legislative Legal  and Research Services  about this issue.   She                                                               
faxed Juneau  public library's policy  to them and their  take is                                                               
that the way  it is giving out information to  parents is on very                                                               
soft legal ground  and in some cases it is  actually breaking the                                                               
law.  She  commented that it is unfortunate that  this is turning                                                               
librarians into  criminals for using  common sense  and providing                                                               
information to parents.                                                                                                         
Number 0182                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  asked  what criteria  librarians  use  to                                                               
determine who the legal guardian is for a child.                                                                                
SENATOR GREEN responded that it is  being done the same way it is                                                               
done when the parent or guardian  comes into the library with the                                                               
child to apply  for a card.   She said her issue is  not with the                                                               
level  of  the  reading  material,  but  with  the  common  sense                                                               
information  a  parent should  be  entitled  to from  the  public                                                               
library.   She pointed out that  no parent would go  to a library                                                               
and ask  for an  address or  phone number for  their child.   She                                                               
commented that this  really is about simplicity.   In response to                                                               
Representative Kapsner's  comment about children in  foster care,                                                               
in  this case  the agency  approved foster  parent should  be the                                                               
person  who  should have  access  to  that information  for  that                                                               
child, she said.                                                                                                                
Number 0369                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  commented that  a lot of  times it  is the                                                               
devil  in the  details.   There  are  a lot  of  parents who  are                                                               
divorced  and a  non-custodial parent  may want  information that                                                               
the   library  is   required  to   provide,  including   personal                                                               
information  and the  child's  book  list.   This  could make  an                                                               
interesting  case, he  added.   Representative Seaton  asked what                                                               
would happen with emancipated minors.                                                                                           
SENATOR  GREEN  told  the members  that  emancipated  minors  are                                                               
considered independent from parental control.                                                                                   
Number 0420                                                                                                                     
MS.  TUPOU  offered a  point  of  clarification that  Legislative                                                               
Legal and Research  Services stated that a librarian  who acts in                                                               
good faith  would not be  subject to  litigation in a  case where                                                               
information  were provided  to  someone who  is  not the  child's                                                               
parent or legal guardian.                                                                                                       
CHAIR WILSON asked Ms. Tupou to expand on that point.                                                                           
MS.  TUPOU  said that  Legislative  Legal  and Research  Services                                                               
advised  her  that  when  talking   about  the  legal  issues  of                                                               
liability if something  were to occur in which  a librarian acted                                                               
in  good  faith during  the  normal  course  of his/her  job  the                                                               
librarian would not be subject to litigation.                                                                                   
CHAIR WILSON asked  Ms. Tupou to provide a  written legal opinion                                                               
from  Legislative  Legal and  Research  Services  which could  be                                                               
forwarded to the next committee of referral.                                                                                    
MS. TUPOU said she would do that.                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON told  the members  that he  would like  to                                                               
hear  a  discussion  on  the  constitutionality  of  the  privacy                                                               
provision  by  Legislative  Legal  and  Research  Services.    He                                                               
commented that  Alaska is  quite different  than other  states in                                                               
that  Alaskans'  privacy  is protected  under  its  constitution.                                                               
Representative Seaton  said that he  would also like to  know how                                                               
this relates  to the University  of Alaska and  private nonprofit                                                               
Number 0586                                                                                                                     
MS. TUPOU commented  that Senator Green's office  had received an                                                               
e-mail that there might be  constitutional issues with respect to                                                               
privacy with  this bill.   She explained that in  her discussions                                                               
with  Legislative Legal  and Research  Services it  was indicated                                                               
that  under the  constitution  it is  the  legislature that  sets                                                               
those policies with respect to privacy.                                                                                         
Number 0605                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL  read  [Article  I, Section  22]  of  the                                                               
Constitution of the State of Alaska as follows:                                                                                 
Right  to  Privacy.   The  right  of  the  people to  privacy  is                                                               
recognized and  shall not  be infringed.   The  legislature shall                                                               
implement this section.                                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL  commented that  the legislature  has done                                                               
this many times.  The basis  of this argument and the policy call                                                               
that  the  legislature  is  asked  to make  is  if  a  parent  is                                                               
responsible for  the establishment  of the  library card  and the                                                               
items that  may be checked  out on it,  then do the  parents have                                                               
the  right to  that  information.   He  said  he  sides with  the                                                               
parents right to  have the information over  a library official's                                                               
determination.   Representative  Coghill  said  he believes  that                                                               
would stand up in any court.                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON  agreed with Representative  Coghill.   However, she                                                               
said that  she wants to  assure that  librarians are not  left in                                                               
the middle.                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL said he appreciates  and agrees with Chair                                                               
Wilson's concern  for librarians.   Once the librarian  gives the                                                               
information to  the parents, any  argument is really  between the                                                               
parent and the child, he added.                                                                                                 
CHAIR   WILSON  stated   that  librarians   should  not   concern                                                               
themselves as  to whether the  parent requesting  the information                                                               
is the custodial parent or the  visiting parent.  This should not                                                               
be a problem.   If it becomes one, the  legislature could fix it,                                                               
she added.                                                                                                                      
Number 0767                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA  commented that if  a parent goes  to check                                                               
out a book a library card is necessary.                                                                                         
MS. TUPOU said  that is not exactly correct.   She explained that                                                               
in the example  discussed earlier the books were  checked out on-                                                               
line.  In doing this the  child's library card number was entered                                                               
into the  computer electronically  and the  parent stopped  by to                                                               
pick  up  the books  later.    She added  that  this  may not  be                                                               
possible at  every library  in the state,  but some  libraries do                                                               
offer this option.                                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA  asked how  many [libraries] can  check out                                                               
books on-line.                                                                                                                  
MS.TUPOU responded that she does not know.                                                                                      
SENATOR  GREEN   commented  that   she  assumes  all   the  major                                                               
municipalities have this capability.                                                                                            
Number 0870                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON told  the  members that  last session  the                                                               
legislature passed [SCS  CSHJR 22(Jud)] which was  related to the                                                               
Patriot  Act.   On  page  two  of  that  legislation it  read  as                                                               
     FURTHER  RESOLVED that,  in the  absence of  reasonable                                                                    
     suspicion of criminal activity  under Alaska State law,                                                                    
     may not                                                                                                                    
     (1) initiate,  participate in,  or assist  or cooperate                                                                    
     with  an   inquiry,  investigation,   surveillance,  or                                                                    
     (2)  record, file,  or  share intelligence  information                                                                    
     concerning a person  or organization, including library                                                                    
     lending  and research  records,  book  and video  store                                                                    
     sales  and rental  records, medical  records, financial                                                                    
     records, student records, and  other personal data even                                                                    
     if authorized under the USA PATRIOT Act;                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON commented that  at the time this resolution                                                               
unanimously  passed  both houses  of  the  legislature there  was                                                               
discussion  that the  members did  not  want records  maintained,                                                               
such  as library  records, that  could  then be  shared with  the                                                               
federal government.  He  said he wants to make sure  it is on the                                                               
record that this bill does  not require any libraries to maintain                                                               
records  beyond its  normal policy  and is  consistent with  [SCS                                                               
CSHJR 22(Jud)].                                                                                                                 
Number 0950                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL   agreed  with   Representative  Seaton's                                                               
point.   He commented that it  is a stretch to  connect these two                                                               
pieces of  legislation.  He  stated that  there is nothing  in SB
269   which  would   require   retention   of  library   records.                                                               
Representative Coghill told the members that he was the co-                                                                     
author  of  the  resolution  which  came about  as  a  result  of                                                               
concerns  for  government  intrusion,  and  this  bill  is  about                                                               
parental involvement  in their children's  lives.  These  are two                                                               
entirely different issues, he added for the record.                                                                             
MS. TUPOU agreed with the  Representatives Seaton and Coghill and                                                               
reiterated that SB  269 has nothing to do  with record retention.                                                               
She  pointed out  that  the  state archivist  is  the person  who                                                               
oversees record  retention and believes  the policy is  to retain                                                               
records for state libraries for three  years.  He also puts out a                                                               
suggested   records   retention   schedule   to   each   of   the                                                               
municipalities,  but each  library  decides its  own policy,  Ms.                                                               
Tupou explained.                                                                                                                
Number 0999                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL  moved  to   report  CSSB  269(CRA),  23-                                                               
LS1457\Q, out  of committee  with individual  recommendations and                                                               
the accompanying  fiscal notes.   There being no  objection, CSSB
269(CRA) was reported  out of House Health,  Education and Social                                                               
Services Standing Committee.                                                                                                    

Document Name Date/Time Subjects