Confidentiality of Library Patron Records Policy


The Harrison Memorial Library is committed to user privacy, and will keep all such information that it purposefully or inadvertently collects or maintains confidential to the fullest extent permitted by the law. Protecting library user privacy and maintaining the confidentiality of information that identifies individuals or associates individuals with their use of library books, materials, equipment, programs, facilities, and/or staff assistance is an integral principle of public libraries.

California has some of the nation’s strongest protections for library patron records and privacy. Known as the California Public Records Act, and found under the California Government Code, Title 1, Division 7, Sections 6254 (j) and 6267 (a), (b), and © refer specifically to registration and circulation records.

General Policy

  1. The Library will keep all such information that it purposefully or inadvertently collects or maintains confidential to the fullest extent permitted by federal, state, and local law, including the California Public Records Act and the USAPATRIOT Act.
  2. Protection of confidentiality extends to information sought or received, and materials consulted, borrowed, and received.
  3. Protection of confidentiality includes database search records, circulation records, interlibrary loan records, and other personally identifiable uses of library materials, facilities, or services.
  4. The Library does not collect personal information about a library user when a user visits the Library’s website or registers for a program.
  5. Any information the library user chooses to provide will be used only to provide or improve library services, such as information gathered through voluntary user surveys.
  6. To receive a library card, library users are required to provide identifying information such as name and physical/mailing address. This identifying information is retained as long as the library user has a library card.
  7. A library user’s library record includes current identifying information, items currently checked out, items on hold or requested, as well as overdue materials and any fees.
  8. The Library does not maintain a history of items that a library user has previously checked out when books and materials have been returned on time.
  9. When fees accrue on a library user’s account, the Library does maintain records of items that have been borrowed but returned after the due date, and a history of fees paid by a user.
  10. Notes may be added to a library user’s account as a means of identifying and documenting discussions staff have had with a user.
  11. The Library’s online system offers library user activated features, such as saved searches and reading history. Information gathered and stored using this feature is only accessible to the library user. There is no administrative interface to this information for library staff and, therefore, it is not retrievable by anyone other than the user. The user has the option to delete their saved searches and reading history at any time.
  12. Any future enhancements developed by the software vendors for the Library’s online system that may impact user confidentiality will not be activated by the Library.
  13. The Library treats reference questions, regardless of format of transmission (in person, via telephone, fax, email, or online) confidentially.
  14. Email is not necessarily secure against interception and may be subject to disclosure requirements of the Public Records Act or other legal disclosure requirements.

Patron Access to Circulation Information

In accordance with California State Law (Government Code Section 6267) the Library does not disclose circulation or registration records to anyone other than the individual to whom the records pertain, except under the code’s stated conditions. It is the responsibility of all library employees to keep your library record confidential and to protect your record from unauthorized access. To accomplish this we must verify your identity with your library card or a valid picture ID before any information can be given out.

Access to Circulation Information for a Child or Teen

The Library treats all patron registration records and all library circulation records as confidential in accordance with California State Law (Government Code Section 6267).

  1. Children Age 14 and Under:
    • The Library requires a parent or legal guardian to authorize a child 14 and under to obtain a library card by signing the child’s library card application.
    • The Library will disclose a child’s current circulation records to:
      • A parent or legal guardian, who present valid identification, and is identified on the child’s account, or
      • Someone who presents the child’s card at the time of the request
  2. Patrons over the age of 14 are able to apply for and receive library cards without a signature if they meet the library’s identification requirements. If your child is age 14 or over, then the Library cannot disclose your child’s circulation records without your child being present and giving permission to library staff.

As a library patron, you may authorize other people to know what you have checked out or to pick-up library holds for you. However, you must provide a signed note specifically allowing that person to have access to your library records.

Law Enforcement Access

Library records will not be made available to any agency of the federal, state, 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 investigatory power.

The Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act (USA PATRIOT ACT): Sections 214-216 of this Act gives law enforcement agencies expanded authority to obtain library records, secretly monitor electronic communications, and prohibits libraries and librarians from informing library users of monitoring or information requests.