Reader Privacy Petition Drive to Culminate September 29

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With the final phase of the Campaign for Reader Privacy ( nearing, ABA is encouraging all booksellers to intensify their efforts to collect signatures for the grassroots petition drive to amend Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act. On September 29, during Banned Books Week, representatives of the four organizations sponsoring CRP -- including ABA President Mitchell Kaplan of Books & Books in Coral Gables, Florida; Pat Schroeder, president and CEO of the Association of American Publishers; Salman Rushdie, president of PEN American Center; and an officer of the American Library Association -- will be on Capitol Hill to present to members of Congress the signed petitions. In order for the signatures to be counted, ABA is requesting that all signed petitions be sent by September 20 to ABA, Restore Reader Privacy, Attn.: Oren Teicher, 828 S. Broadway, Tarrytown, NY 10591.

Launched in February, CRP is a nationwide grassroots petition drive to raise awareness about the threat to the privacy of bookstore and library records posed by the USA Patriot Act. With a major battle expected in Congress in 2005 over the reauthorization of provisions of the Patriot Act that are due to expire -- and a number of bills that seek to amend Section 215 being considered -- the petition drive has taken on an added urgency.

In an interview in BTW on August 12, 2004, Rep. Bernie Sanders stressed how important the efforts of booksellers and librarians are in the battle to amend Section 215. "[T]he truth is, that the booksellers and the librarians and other grassroots organizations have done a tremendous job in raising consciousness on this issue," he said.

Sanders, who introduced legislation in March 2003 to amend Section 215 (the Freedom to Read Protection Act, H.R. 1157), noted that the reason so much progress has been made is "precisely because of librarians, booksellers, and whole lots of other people who are speaking out on this issue and demanding that their member of Congress go on record in opposition to 215…. [T]he petition drive is one of the positive factors working in our favor.

Thus far, CRP has gathered over 125,000 signatures in bookstores, libraries, and on its Web site, It has also attracted the support of more than 40 organizations representing virtually every bookstore, library, and writer in the country, as well as 81 individual companies, including Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Borders Group, Inc., Holtzbrinck Publishers, Ingram Book Group, Penguin Group USA, Random House, Scholastic, and Simon & Schuster.

Booksellers can order additional petition pads by calling ABA's Information Department at (800) 637-0037, ext. 1292 or 1293, or for a downloadable PDF of the petition, click here.

To help participating booksellers garner press coverage for the petition drive, ABA has created a press release template that bookstores can use to bring the campaign to the attention of their local media. To access the sample release, click here.

To read the BTW interview with Rep. Sanders, click here. --David Grogan