Librarian Warns Against Checks on Free Speech
The director of the American Library Association's (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom charged yesterday that the Reagan Administration has violated the public's First Amendment rights for eight years.
Speaking at the Kennedy School of Government, Judith Krug told an audience of about 25 University librarians that Reagan Administration efforts to censor information about crucial periods in recent history makes their duty to provide records to the public increasingly important.
Krug said librarians today must "redouble redoubled efforts" to "preserve and protect the rights of the public to receive and disseminate the broadest range of information to all people."
Reagan Administration policies limiting access to potentially classified information are already accepted parts of government agencies procedure, she said.
Krug said Reagan did not trust the American public with information and charged that his Administration has tried to limit the Freedom of Information Act, which gives citizens the right to obtain a wide variety of government documents, including many controversial ones.
The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom has opposed any limitations of this act, holding that controversialpublications "have contributed to the publicdebate by making it fuller and more robust," shesaid.
Krug said Americans' right to governmentinformation has suffered because of a NationalSecurity Decision Directive issued in 1983. Theorder would have required any U.S. official toobtain government permission before publishinginformation that might be classified.
Although the directive was blocked by theSenate and dropped from the Administration agendain 1984, Krug said that as of December 1986, morethan 3 million people were still under thepre-publication scrutiny originally that the orderwould have required.
A "Library Awareness Program" sponsored by theFederal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) also drewconsiderable opposition from the ALA. Krug saidthe agency had asked librarians to supply names offoreign users and the titles of library materialsthey used, citing a need to avoid "potential harm tonational security."
"Such incursions into libraries violate rightsof citizens," Krug said. "Libraries and librariansare not extensions of role-enforcing agencies. Weare a public interest agency.