- Confidentiality of Library Records
- The Library’s circulation records and any other records which identify and relate the name of Library users with specific materials are confidential
- Such records will not be released or used for non-library purposes except pursuant to a subpoena from a court of law or other legally valid process which specifically identifies the information required and the purpose for the request.
- General public access to such circulation statistics invades the privacy of the individual patron and would tend to discourage the freedom of inquiry into sensitive or unpopular subject material.
- The adoption of the above circulation policy provides for compliance with New York State Law 4509, regarding Confidentiality of Library Circulation Records. (See Appendix for text of State Law 4509).
- American Library Association Recommendation. The Council of the American Library strongly recommends that the responsible officers of each library in theUnited States:
- Formally adopt a policy which specifically recognizes its circulation records identifying the names of library users to be confidential in nature.
- Advise all librarians and library employees that such records shall not be made available to any agency of state, federal, or local government except pursuant to such process, order, or subpoena as may be authorized under the authority of, and pursuant to federal, state, or local law relating to civil, criminal, or administrative discovery procedures of legislative investigative power.
- Resist the issuance or enforcement of any such process, order, or subpoena until such time as a proper showing of good cause has been made in a court of competent jurisdiction.**
*Note: ALA POLICY MANUAL 54,15 – Code of Ethics point #3. “Librarians must protect each user’s right to privacy with respect to information sought or received, and materials consulted, borrowed or acquired”.
**Note: Point 3, above, means that upon receipt of such progress, order, or subpoena, the library’s officers will consult with their legal counsel to determine if such process, order, or subpoena is not in proper form or if good cause has not been shown, they will insist that such defects be cured.
Adopted 1-20-71; revised 5-04-75 by the ALA Council.
- Procedures for implementing “Policy on Confidentiality of Library Records”
- The library staff member receiving the request to examine or obtain information relating to circulation or registration records will immediately refer the person making the request of the responsible officer of the institution, who shall explain the confidentiality policy.
- The Manager, upon receipt of such process, order, or subpoena, shall consult with the appropriate legal officer assigned to the institution to determine if such process, order, or subpoena is in good form and if there is a showing of good cause for its issuance.
- If the process, order, or subpoena is not in proper form or in good cause has not been show, insistence shall be made that such defects be cured before any records are releases. (The legal process requiring the production of circulation records shall ordinarily be in the form of subpoena “duces tecum” [bring your records] requiring the responsible officer to attend court or the taking of his/her deposition and may require him/her to bring along certain designated circulation records.)
- Any threats or unauthorized demands (i.e., those not supported by a process, order or subpoena) concerning circulation or registration records shall be reported to the appropriate legal officer of the institution.
- Any problems relating to the privacy of circulation and registration records which are not provided for above shall be referred to the responsible officer.
(Adopted by the ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee, 1-09-83)