Albert Wisner Public Library Policy on Patron Record Confidentiality
The Board of Trustees of Albert Wisner Public Library recognizes the responsibility to protect the privacy of library users. Library patrons’ First Amendment rights to guaranteed freedom of speech extend to a corresponding right to hear what is spoken and read what is written, free from fear of intrusion, intimidation, or reprisal.
The confidentiality of library records is protected by New York State (CPLR 4509, New York State Statutes) which states: "Library records which contain names or other personally identifying details regarding the users of public, free association, school, college or university libraries and library systems of this state, including but not limited to records related to the circulation of library materials, computer database searches, interlibrary loan transactions, reference queries, requests for photocopies of materials, title reserve requests, or the use of audiovisual materials, films, records, shall be confidential and shall not be disclosed, except that such records many be disclosed to the extent necessary for the proper operation of such library and shall be disclosed upon request or consent of the user pursuant to subpoena, court order or where otherwise required by statute." [Reprinted from: Vol. 41: Civil Practice Law and Rules. Lawyers Cooperative Publishing, 1993. New York Consolidated Laws Service, Cumulative Supplement. Issued December, 1993.]
Albert Wisner Public Library also ascribes to the American Library Association’s Code of Ethics, which states, “Librarians must protect each user’s right to privacy with respect to information sought or received, and materials consulted, borrowed, or acquired.” ALA Code of Ethics
Procedures for Implementing Policy on Confidentiality of Library Records:
In the event that staff is approached to divulge confidential information, the following steps will be followed:
1. The Library staff member receiving the request to examine or obtain information relating to confidential Library records will immediately refer the person making the request to the Library Director, who will explain the confidentiality policy.
2. Under no circumstances will staff divulge any confidential information regarding or including;
- Patron’s name, address, telephone number
- Library card holding status
- General information regarding a patron’s Library habits, including but not restricted to, number of visits, time of visits, number or type of questions asked, etc.
3. The Library Director will review all requests and orders in a timely manner. If necessary, the Library Director will consult with legal counsel to determine if such process, order, or subpoena is proper and in full compliance with proper legal authority. If there is a reasonable basis to believe such records are necessary to the progress of an investigation or prosecution, the American judicial system provides the mechanism for seeking release of such confidential records. The issuance of a court order, following a showing of good cause based on specific facts by a court of competent jurisdiction, will be the only basis on which confidential information will be released.
4. Requests for information without written consent from the named patron will be denied without the required court order.
Adopted by Albert Wisner Public Library Board of Trustees, January 21, 2003