Silence is golden to librarians and booksellers.

That’s one of several concerns librarians have with a provision in the USA Patriot Act, passed by Congress last year in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. It gives the FBI authority to search library and bookstore circulation records and, where applicable, Internet user records, in an investigation of international terrorism or for other intelligence probes.

Unlike most search warrants, the FBI doesn’t have to show evidence of wrongdoing or that ...

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