MONTEREY COUNTY FREE LIBRARIES

Policy & Procedures Memo 02-001

 Subject:  Confidentiality of Patron Records

Date Issued:  January 16, 2002

 Issued:  January 16, 2002

Implementation Date:  January 16, 2002

 Supersedes:  90-005

Policy:

California State Law exempts library patron records from disclosure under the Public Records Act.  Information provided on library card applications and other patron records (which includes personal information about the patron, materials borrowed, web sites visited, and reference questions asked) are confidential and can not be released to any person other than the patron or a person specifically designated in writing by the patron as having permission to access to those records.  The only exceptions to these rules are:

        Library staff or persons working for the library (e.g. contractors, Information Technology staff, etc.)

        Persons presenting a valid court order or subpoena specifically ordering the release of a specific patronís record. 

        Federal investigative employees (such as an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the Department of Justice who clearly identify themselves as Federal agents and who show their official identification) upon presentation of a search warrant issued under the USA Patriot Act. 

        Persons named and designated in writing as having permission to access the records.

Procedure:

 Any person requesting patron record information without a court order or subpoena shall be made aware of the policy of confidentiality and may be referred to the Public Records Act (Protection of Library Circulation and Registration Records, Government Code, Title 1, Division 7, Chapter 3.5, Section 6254, which exempts library records from disclosure requirements.

If a person presents a valid court order or subpoena requesting release of a specific patron record, Monterey County Free Libraries staff shall call the Administrative Office to notify the County Librarian (or, in his absence, a Managing Librarian), who is the legal custodian of County Library records.  No access to records shall be allowed until the County Librarian, a Managing Librarian, and/or a representative of the Office of County Counsel is present and has authorized release of the records. 

 If a Federal investigative agent (who provides official identification) presents a valid search warrant issued under the USA Patriot Act, Monterey County Free Libraries staff may allow the search.  Prior to allowing the search, staff should request a delay to allow the presence of the County Librarian, a Managing Librarian, or a representative of the Office of County Counsel.  If the request is denied, staff should not block or hinder the search.  If such a search warrant is presented, any notification by staff to the patron who is the subject of the search (before, during, or following the search) is a criminal violation of Federal law.  

Any questions regarding this policy and procedure shall be referred to the Managing Librarian, Administrative Services at (831) 796-6003..