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The Law Librarian and the FBI: A Shaggy Dog Tale in Six Parts: PART TWO



“Our view is that it takes a special talent to make libraries controversial.” *

Several months on, however, despite all efforts, it appeared that my missing books were going to continue to preoccupy my thoughts. Brandon was out of jail, his lawyers fighting on his behalf, and the lawsuits would work their way through the courts. Brandon didn’t have or couldn’t find my library’s books, and I wasn’t going to press the point; there were more important matters on his mind at the time. I did ask trusted friends if or how I should pursue the return of my books if in fact the FBI had taken them. Attorneys continued to advise me to lay low, stay away, look out because these guys mean business . “People have disappeared,” was said in hushed tones. “Librarians have disappeared?” I wanted to ask, but kept quiet, after all, it was 2004, 2005, and then 2006. These apparently were Years To Keep Quiet, which under normal circumstances would be quite pleasant for a lot of librarians. But now, not so much.

I did protest, “but I’m not accusing anyone – I just want someone to LOOK for the books!” One doesn’t really want to assume, you know. After all, the books could just as easily have been tossed under the bushes or under a sofa never to surface again or at least not for a very long time. They might not have been taken by the FBI. But my protestations carried no weight. “THEY will assume so keep your head down” Okie, dokie.

I suppose when you come down to it, the question was a little tricky. Can one inquire innocently of the FBI about missing books? “Excuse me, sir or madam, but would you kindly check if you scooped up my books when you seized those other items from Mr. Mayfield?” I could write to Miss Manners and was sure she would know what to do, after all, good manners couldn’t hurt my cause. But how would you even ask Miss Manners such a question? Instead, I went back to my library’s books, budgets, and digital appellate court briefs – and kept my head down.

To be continued ….

* Jeff Ruch, Executive Director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, quoted in Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Jan. 22, 2007, p. B3 (cont. from B1), commenting on the closing of the EPA libraries, which he said was “positively Orwellian.”


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