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Privacy/Confidentiality Policy

We protect each library user’s right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received, and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted. Such records shall not be made available to any agency or 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 or legislative investigative power.

SECTION A. REFERENCES

The confidentiality policy of The Morristown Centennial Library is based on the First and Fourth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution and Vermont Statues.

First Amendment: Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech…

Fourth Amendment: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Vermont Statues, Title 22: Libraries, History, and Information Technology, Chapter 4: Library Patron Records.

SECTION B. CONFIDENTIALITY POLICY

Confidentiality is essential to protect the exercise of First and Fourth Amendment rights. In accordance with First and Fourth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution and Vermont Statute 22 V.S.A. §171-172 the Board of Trustees of the Morristown Centennial Library respects the privacy of users and recognizes its responsibility to protect their privacy.

22 V.S.A. § 171. Definitions

  1. “Library” means a public library as defined in subdivision 101(2) of this title, any college, university, or school library, or any other library or archive that is open on a regular basis and makes available on site, or circulates, materials to the public without a fee.
  2. “Patron registration records” means library records that contain information a library patron must provide in order to be eligible for borrowing privileges at a library.
  3. “Patron transaction records” means library records that contain names or other personal identifying information that discloses an individual’s activities within a library, including the materials that have been viewed in print or electronic form, research questions posed, materials in any format that the patron has requested through interlibrary loan or has borrowed, or any other library service or consultation that the patron has requested.” (Added 2007, No. 129 (Adj Sess.), § 1.)

22 V.S.A. § 172. Library record confidentiality; exemptions

  1. A library’s patron registration records and patron transaction records shall remain confidential.
  2. Unless authorized by other provisions of law, the library’s officers, employees, and volunteers shall not disclose the records except:
  1. with the written permission of the library patron to whom the records pertain;
  2. to officers, employees, volunteers, and agents of the library to the extent necessary for library administration purposes;
  3. in response to an authorized judicial order or warrant directing disclosure;
  4. to custodial parents or guardians of patrons under age 16;
  5. to the custodial parents or guardians of a student, in accordance with the federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, by the library at the school the student attends.
  1. Statistical records pertaining to the patronage, circulation activities, and use of any service or consultation the library provides, provided that they do not contain the names of patrons or any other personally identifying information, shall be exempt from the provisions of this chapter. (Added 2007, No. 129 (Adj. Sess.), §1.)

The Library will not release registration, circulation or other records protected unless it is required by law to release the information. Circumstances which may require the Library to release the information include the following:

  1. A criminal or juvenile justice agency is seeking the information pursuant to an investigation of a particular person or organization suspected of committing a known crime AND the criminal or juvenile justice agency presents the Library Director with a court order demonstrating that there has been a judicial determination that a rational connection exists between the requested release of information and a legitimate end and that the need for the information is cogent and compelling.
  2. The Library receives a Warrant for the information issued under the USA Patriot Act (which includes amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act).
  3. The Library receives a National Security Letter seeking the information pursuant to the USA Patriot Act.
  4. The Library receives a valid court order requiring the Library to release registration, circulation or other records protected and the information is not sought in conjunction with a criminal or juvenile justice investigation.

SECTION C. USE OF PATRON REGISTRATION RECORDS

We use this information to respond to patrons’ requests, to confirm program registrations, to inform patrons of overdue materials, to send Library fundraising materials, and occasionally to alert patrons to new services they may want to use. Phone numbers, e-mail and mailing addresses are not shared with outside parties.

We use non-identifying and aggregate information for reports to the DOL (Department of Libraries), and to better design our web site. For example, we may let it be known publicly that a specific number of individuals visited a certain area on our web site, but we would not disclose anything that could be used to identify those individuals.

We will never disclose a child’s (under age 16) personal information such as full name, address, etc. (“information that would facilitate or enable the physical or online locating and contacting of a specific individual”) without written approval from a parent or legal guardian. We will only display a child’s first name and age on our site to announce contest winners and display customer-submitted comments.

Finally, we never use or share the personally identifiable information provided to use online in ways unrelated to the ones described above without also providing patrons an opportunity to prohibit such unrelated uses. If law enforcement agents in the course of an investigation request library records, the Library may be required by law to release records pertaining to a patron’s activities at the Library. We do not share information collected with outside parties except for possible uses related to the recovery of materials.

OUR COMMITMENT TO DATA SECURITY

We have put in place appropriate physical, electronic, and managerial procedures to safeguard and secure the information we collect online to prevent unauthorized access, maintain data accuracy, and ensure the correct use of information.

SECTION D. PROCEDURES FOR ENFORCING THE POLICY ON CONFIDENTIALITY OF LIBRARY RECORDS

22 V.S.A. §173. Right of patron action

Any person whose confidential patron registration records or patron transaction records have been disclosed, except as provided in this chapter, is authorized to bring a civil action against the library that disclosed the records. (Added 2007, No. 129 (Adj. Sess.), §1.)

  1. The Library staff member receiving a request to examine or obtain information relating to registration records or circulation records or other records identifying the names of Library users shall immediately refer the requestor to the Library Director, the official custodian of the records.

    (To prevent any misunderstanding, the staff member should avoid discussing with the person making the request what user information may or may not be available, or what the Library can or cannot do.)

    If the Library Director is not available (such as during evenings or weekends or away on business) inform the requestor when the Library Director will be available. If pressed to act sooner, contact the Library Director immediately whether the Library Director is away on business or at home. In the event the Library Director cannot be reached, contact the Chair of the Board of Trustees. In the event that neither is available, the highest ranking person on duty is responsible for working with the requestor.
  2. The Library Director shall meet with the requestor of the information. If the requestor is a law enforcement officer the officer must have a court order, a warrant issued under the USA Patriot Act, or a National Security Letter (NSL) issued under the USA Patriot Act to receive the requested records. If the officer does not have a proper court order, warrant, or NSL compelling the production of records, the Library Director shall refuse to provide the information. The Library Director may explain the confidentiality policy and the state’s confidentiality law, and inform the agent or officer that users’ records are not available except when a proper court order in good form has been presented to the library.
  3. If the records requested cover registration, circulation or other records protected, the Library Director will immediately consult with legal counsel to determine if such process, order, or subpoena is sufficient to require release of the records. The Director will also notify the Board Chair.
  4. If any written request, process, order or subpoena is not in proper form or does not otherwise appear to be sufficient to support releasing the records, the Library Director shall insist that such defects be cured before any records are released.
  5. If the Library Director, in consultation with the Library’s legal counsel, determines that the order, warrant, or subpoena is sufficient and compels the release of the records, the Library Director shall release the records.
  6. If the request is made pursuant to the USA Patriot Act, the Library Director is authorized to obtain legal counsel regarding the request. As required by the USA Patriot Act, the Library Director may not discuss the request with anyone other than legal counsel.
  7. If the requestor has not presented any type of court or administrative order requiring release of the requested information, the Library Director shall refuse to provide the requested records. The Library Director may explain the confidentiality policy and the state’s confidentiality law.
  8. The Library Director is authorized to take legal action (such as moving to quash a subpoena) to resist releasing requested registration, circulation or other records protected if the Library Director and the Library’s legal counsel deems such action to be appropriate. The Library Director shall keep Board Chair apprised of developments.
  9. Any threats or unauthorized demand (i.e. those not supported by a written request, process, order or subpoena) concerning circulation and other records identifying the names of Library users shall be reported to the Library Director.
  10. Any problems relating to the privacy of circulation and other records identifying the names of Library users which are not provided for above shall be referred to the Library Director.

Policy approved 7/8/10