Beth DiFelice - January 2006

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January 2006

Chapter Professional Development Awards

Did your chapter hold an outstanding professional development program in 2005? If so, consider nominating your chapter for AALL's chapter professional development awards. The application deadline is February 1st.

There are two awards. The Comprehensive Chapter Professional Development Award recognizes a comprehensive program up to one year in length. The 2005 recipient was the Minnesota Association of Law Libraries (MALL) for Locating Legal Information on the Web. The One-Time Chapter Professional Development Award recognizes a single program or workshop of one-half day or more. The 2005 recipient was the Northern California Association of Law Libraries (NOCALL) for their Spring Institute Navigating the Seven Cs.

To be eligible, your program must have been held in 2005. More information about the award, as well as the nomination form, is on AALLNet at http://www.aallnet.org/prodev/chapter_prodev_award.asp.

Do any of you want my job?

My year as Chair of the Council of Chapter Presidents is halfway over. It will soon be time to elect my successor. You are eligible for this position if you are a current chapter president whose term ends by October 31, 2006. I need your nominations by February 15th - self-nominations are encouraged. The voting will begin March 15th. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about this position.

Annual Meeting Registration Awards

Ten chapter presidents will soon receive information from AALL headquarters about the Annual Meeting Registration Awards. The awards are given out on a rotating basis - each chapter is eligible every third year. This year's chapters are AZALL, COALL, DALL, HALL, MAALL, LLOPS, NOCALL, SCALL, SWALL, and WESTPAC.

AALL Action Alert on the Reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act

Please forward this information to your chapter government relations committees.

Background:
In late November, we issued an AALL Action Alert on the Reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act to support efforts of House and Senate members who opposed the conference report (H.R. 3199) in favor of striking a better balance between expanded government surveillance and protection of civil liberties.  Sixteen provisions of the Act were due to expire at the end of December 2005. AALL has long been on record as opposing several provisions of the USA Patriot Act that erode the privacy and confidentiality of library users. Specifically, we have opposed Sec. 215 that gives the government the power to access information from libraries about patron records without probable cause. We have also opposed Sec. 505 that allows the FBI to issue "National Security Letters" under gag order to compel production of Internet use records from any entity that provides the public with access to the Internet with no requirement that there be specific facts connecting the records sought to a suspected terrorist. The press reported last summer that the FBI is now issuing more than 30,000 NSLs a year.

As a result of your terrific response in contacting your congressional representatives last month and the grassroots efforts of other concerned individuals, the first conference report was rejected. The second conference report contained some slight improvements but still failed to satisfy our concerns. It was approved in the House on Dec. 15th by a 251 to 174 vote but was derailed in the Senate when the bill's supporters were not able to get the 60 votes necessary to overcome a threatened filibuster. House and Senate conferees hurriedly agreed to approve a five-week extension and on December 30, President Bush signed S. 2167 which extends the sixteen expiring provisions through Feb. 3rd. The Senate reconvenes on January 18th and the House on January 31st, giving lawmakers little time to negotiate the most contentious provisions before the new deadline.

While it is important that law enforcement have the tools they need to combat terrorism, law librarians, as other citizens, want reasonable changes to the law to protect innocent people from intrusive government surveillance.

Action Needed:
Please take advantage of the opportunity during the January recess to remind your elected representatives of your concerns, and encourage them to oppose the conference report unless certain changes are made to protect privacy and civil liberties. Call your Senate and House representatives now at their district office - you can easily find the phone numbers through their web sites (http://www.senate.gov/, http://www.house.gov/).

Urge them to support the following changes to the reauthorization bill which are needed to provide important safeguards to protect the privacy of library users:

  1. The ability for a Section 215 recipient to pose a meaningful challenge of a FISA Court order.
  2. Language requiring that records sought under a Section 215 order are described with "sufficient particularity" to prevent government fishing expeditions.
  3. The ability for a Section 505 recipient to pose a meaningful challenge to a National Security Letter.

Lastly, it's important that we thank the six Senators who came out in strong opposition to both conference reports and who continue to fight for these necessary changes. If you are in any of the following states, please be sure to call your Senator to express your gratitude for their leadership on this issue: Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID), Sen. John E. Sununu (R-NH), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-IL), Sen. Russell Feingold (D-WI) and Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO).

Thank you!

Timothy L. Coggins
Chair, AALL Government Relations Committee

Mary Alice Baish
AALL Washington Affairs Office

Sincerely,

Beth DiFelice
Chapter Council President