Confidentiality of Library Records
Confidentiality of Library Records
Adopted January 28, 2004
In accordance with Pennsylvania law, 24 PA Cons. Stat. Sec. 428, the Board of Library Directors of the Cheltenham Township Library System (CTLS) recognizes and respects the confidentiality of records related to the circulation of library materials that contain the names or other personally identifying details regarding the users of CTLS’ libraries. These records include but are not limited to personal names, addresses, phone numbers, items in circulation, number of items checked out, items requested, library accounts denoting fines, fees and items.
1. The Board of Directors supports the concept of intellectual freedom and the right of each citizen, regardless of age, to free access to information without fear of intimidation or recrimination. The library system’s confidentiality policy safeguards the first amendment and privacy rights of library users. The library system advises employees, volunteers and patrons that all library records that contain names or other personally identifying details regarding the users of the library system are confidential.
2. The Board of Library Directors of Cheltenham Township Library System further subscribes to the American Library Association Library Code of Ethics, Section III, which states, “We protect each Library user’s right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and materials consulted, borrowed, acquired, or transmitted.”
3. In all instances and regardless of circumstances, Cheltenham Township Library System, safeguards access to patron library records and restricts access to that information to the patron who owns the library card only and provides that card or card number. Confidentiality may not be waived for a spouse, parent or other relative.
4. The library record of a minor child has the same confidentiality protection as that of other library users with two exceptions.
- As the financially responsible party, a parent or legal guardian is permitted access to the records of their minor children older than the age of 7 (seven) and younger than the age of 14 (fourteen) when their child has overdue or lost materials. The parent or legal guardian must provide identification, the child’s library card and verification of the child’s address, telephone number and date of birth. Parents or legal guardians who have signed their minor child’s application have assumed the financial responsibility for materials charged out to their child’s card.
- The library staff will provide information regarding library transactions on cards issued to minor children under the age of 7 (seven) to the parent or legal guardian of the card holder provided that they produce identification, the child’s library card and are able to verify the child’s address, telephone number and date of birth.
5. No library records will be made available to federal, state or local law enforcement agencies except by a court order as required by law. Court orders from law enforcement officers will be referred to the Library Director who will consult with legal counsel. In the Director’s absence, the Head Librarian or the President of the Board of Library Directors will handle the request. CTLS will take whatever action is necessary to determine that the court order or process issued by any court or pursuant to any court rule or any agency of government requires that such records be made available. Under no circumstances will other library employees provide patron records to law enforcement agencies.
6. If library records are requested under the USA Patriot Act, staff members will state that only the Library Director or designated administrator is authorized to address such requests. The Library Director or designated administrator will ask to see the requester’s official identification and if presented with a search warrant will cooperate as required by law. If the gag order is in effect, no information about the request will be given to anyone except legal counsel.
7. No library employee may use patron records for any purpose except that directly related to the discharge of his or her duties. Library staff will maintain respect for confidentiality regarding patron reading or related interests in both informal conversation as well as formal duties. When calling about reserve or overdue materials, staff members will not specifically identify that material unless speaking directly to the card holder involved in the transaction. If information is requested by a person other than the card holder, staff should state that they are only permitted to discuss specific information with the patron unless the card belongs to a minor child under the age of 7 (seven).
8. Individual card holders may check on their own records:
- Online – after registering in person for a pin number. Library staff keeps no record of pin numbers.
- In Person – upon presentation of their library card, library notice or acceptable identification.
- By Telephone – after verification of name, address, library card number and telephone number.
Family members or friends who present a library card belonging to another individual may use that card to borrow materials unless it has been reported stolen or missing. No information about items borrowed on that card will be available to anyone except the card owner. Upon request, however, CTLS will mail a printout of transactions to the address of the card owner.