Confidentiality of library records

The Board of Trustees of the Ericson Public Library recognizes the responsibility to protect the privacy of library users.  Confidentiality is essential to protect the exercise of First Amendment rights.

Library records are treated specifically in Code of Iowa 22.7 “Examination of Public Records (Open Records): paragraphs 13 and 14.  The citation is copied here and included in this policy:

22.7 Confidential records.

The following public records shall be kept confidential, unless otherwise ordered by a court, by the lawful custodian of the records, or by another person duly authorized to release such information:

13.       The records of a library which would, by themselves or when examined with other public records, reveal the identity of the library patron checking out or requesting an item or information from the library.  The records shall be released to a criminal or juvenile justice agency only pursuant to an investigation of a particular person or organization suspected of committing a known crime.  The records shall be released only upon a judicial determination that a rational connection exists between the requested release of information and legitimate end and that the need for the information is cogent and compelling.

14.       The material of a library, museum or archive which has been contributed by a private person to the extent of any limitation that is a condition of the contribution.

Confidentiality extends to information sought or received and materials consulted, borrowed, or acquired.  Confidentiality includes database search records, reference interviews, interlibrary loan records, computer use records, and all other personally identifiable uses of library materials, facilities or services.

In addition to the protections afforded by the Code of Iowa and the Constitution of the United States of America, Ericson Public Library will hold confidential the names of card holders and their registration information and will not provide access for private, public or commercial use.

In keeping with the above statements and the Code of Iowa, the following shall be the policy for Ericson Public Library records;

  1. The lawful custodian of the records is the Director of the library.
  2. Ericson Public Library registration records and circulation records shall be kept confidential.
  3. If there is a reasonable basis to believe library registration records are necessary to the progress of an investigation or prosecution, the request for such records including the justification for the request shall be made to the Director, in writing on official letterhead by an official of the investigation or prosecution workforce, who has provided necessary identification.
  4. If there is a reasonable basis to believe library circulation records are necessary to the progress of an investigation or prosecution, the 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.
  5. Circulation records shall not be made available to any agency of local, state, or federal government except pursuant to such process, order or subpoena as may be authorized under the authority of, and pursuant to, local, state, or federal law relating to civil, criminal, or administrative discovery procedures or legislative investigative power.
  6. The issuance or enforcement of any such process, order, or subpoena shall be resisted until such time as a proper showing of good cause has been made in a court of competent jurisdiction.

The library record of a child has the same confidentiality protection under Library policies as that of any other patrons with the following exceptions.

  • Parents or legal guardians are permitted access to the records of their minor children under the age of 13 (thirteen).  The parent/legal guardian must be accompanied by the child, provide the child’s library card, and/or provide other acceptable identification.  In the case of telephone inquiries, library card number and verification of the child’s address, telephone number, and date of birth are required.
  • Parents or legal guardians of minor children ages 13-17 are permitted to know only the number of items, not titles, authors, or subjects, charged out on their children’s library cards, unless the child accompanies the parent or legal guardian to the Library and grants permission for access.  The parent or legal guardian must provide the children’s library card or, in the case of telephone inquiries, library card number and verification of the child’s address, telephone number, and date of birth.
  • Ericson Public Library recognizes that parents or legal guardians who have signed their minor children’s applications have assumed financial responsibility for materials charged out to their children’s cards; therefore, parents or legal guardians will be provided with specific information about their minor children’s library records when materials are overdue or lost.

Adopted September 15, 2003
Reviewed and approved December 15, 2003, November 13, 2007
Revised and approved July 18, 2011, September 15, 2014