According to a report from White Plains Journal News, an 11th-grade student in Pelham Manor, N.Y., was called into the office to be questioned by the assistant principal and the police. There was a report that this young fellow was researching how to conceal a gun. After talking with this student, the police and the principal determined that there was no threat, and in fact the report was wrong: the boy had only been researching the state's laws on guns.
A school spokeswoman said the boy was not disciplined, and remains in school. What was the source of the report? The Pelham Public Library. According to library Director Patricia Perito, "It is not our procedure to notify somebody" about patrons' book choices but she "had to" look into the matter by informing the school.
First, I am pleased that this young researcher was not ‘disciplined’ for his research! But for that matter, why should anyone be prohibited from researching how to conceal a gun, even if that had been his topic of research? Why should anyone have to answer to the police for their research? If this isn’t the thought police at work, what else could we call it?
But beyond that, you must remember that ‘public’ libraries are essentially statist institutions. Librarians, no matter how nice or benign-looking they may be, are agents of the state. While there could be exceptions, we should expect agents of the state to act on behalf of the state.
As an aside here – I have a problem with what I see at my local library. It has become a government-sponsored entertainment center which competes with many private businesses. I see much morally-objectionable entertainment material there – material that I am forced to pay to circulate in my neighborhood. (Let those who want to rent dirty movies do so with their own money!) Those who see no problems with this arrangement need to re-think their ideas of right and wrong!
While it might be a few years past the year A.D. 1984, Big Brother is always watching, in ways both great and small – even down at the (statist) public library.