JUNE 2002

Table of Contents

  1. Godort of Michigan Spring Meeting Highlights

(1) Godort of Michigan Spring Meeting Highlights, April 4th

Laura Dickson, Federal Documents Librarian at Michigan State University, spoke first on “Access to Government Information: Since September 11.”

Walking the group through the maize of established and proposed policies, rules, regulations and laws, Ms. Dickson tried to strike a balance between the people’s need for freedom of information and the government’s need for “classification” (read: protection through legal channels of sensitive materials). To shore up the various points, she quoted a variety of officials. One of the most telling stated simply, “The threshold of censorship has been raised.” Working from quotes such as this, Ms. Dickson spoke about a G.A.O investigation into backlogs of FOIA requests at government agencies and the “controversy” surrounding the recent Presidential Executive Order 13233 that limited access to Presidential records. She also touched on the recent request for Federal Depository Libraries to remove a specific CD-ROM from their collections. Although this request caused somewhat of a furor in the depository community, the audience was reminded that, on average, Depository Libraries are asked to withdraw or have replaced or otherwise withhold 2 documents per year.

She wrapped up by asking, "What is GODORT doing?" Working primarily from the Godort/ALA Legislation Committee’s web site at http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/GODORT/legislation/, she reviewed the wonderful array of information surrounding access to government information found on this page.

For more information, contact Ms. Dickson at dickso15@msu.edu.

Patrick Corbett, Associate Professor, Cooley Law School, next spoke about, “The USA Patriot Act: Revised Electronic Evidence Gathering Authorities.”

Wondering what the USA Patriot act’s acronym stands for? Look no farther: Uniting and Strengthening America (USA) Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (PATRIOT).

Mr. Corbett’s talk centered on the changes to the following pre-existing statutes:

  • Pen register/trap and trace, 18 USC 3121-3127
  • Electronic Communications Privacy Act, 18 USC 2701-2711
  • Wiretap statute, 18 USC 2510-2522
  • Cable Communications Act, 47 USC 551-561

    He offered nearly a word-by-word look at these statutes and what has happened (“fixes” in Mr. Corbett’s words) to them following the passage of the USA Patriot Act. He distinguished between content and non-content aspects of communications monitoring and answered questions about what rules apply to complying with the new law. Things to remember are that the good stewardship of these laws by law enforcement officials will go a long way to ensuring their continuance; many of the provisions are subject to sunset requirements; and that all indications suggest that Congress will exercise close oversight of these acts. Mr. Corbett may be reached at corbettp@cooley.edu.

    Afternoon activities included a Godort of Michigan business meeting, an election, and an optional tour of Cooley Law Library.

    Shawn Nicholson of Michigan State University volunteered to serve as Program Chair/President/Past-President, Debbie Gallagher of the Ann Arbor District Library volunteered to serve as Treasurer, and Bill Cramer from Oakland University volunteered to serve as Director-at-Large. They will join Sharon Bradley from Cooley Law School as President, Deborah Jakubiec from Livonia Civic Center Library as Past-President, Kelly Carter from the University of Detroit-Mercy as Secretary, and Jon Harrison of Michigan State University as Red Tape Editor on the 2002-2003 Godort of Michigan Executive Board.

    Special thanks to Shawn W. Nicholson [State Documents and Social Sciences, Michigan State University, 100 Library, East Lansing, MI 48824-1048; telephone: (517) 432-1749] for sharing this report.

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    Michigan State University Libraries
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