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Patron Privacy at Monterey County Free Libraries




Did You Know Your Library Records Are Confidential?

(It doesn’t matter if you are an adult or a child.)



California State law mandates that library staff cannot give out the following information to anyone other than the library cardholder:


  • Personal information
  • Information on materials borrowed, including the name of titles.
  • Information on what library resources, including websites are consulted.
  • Reference questions asked.


Exceptions to this law are:


  • If you designate someone in writing to have permission to access your records. (Ask staff for a waiver form.)
  • Library staff and persons working for the library may access your records within the scope of their work. Staff additionally adheres to a professional code of ethics to keep your information confidential. Note: We do legally release name and address information to a debt collection service for fee balances $50 and above that are 60 days past due.
  •      Persons presenting valid court order or subpoena.
  •     Federal Investigative employees with a search warrant issued under the USA Patriot Act. (Released only by the Libraries’ Custodian of Records, the County Librarian)


How this law may affect the way you use the library with your child:


“I was upset when the library staff member would not tell me what books my child had checked out. How did they expect me to find and return them?” MCFL Library Patron


It is an awkward position for the library customer and library staff to be put into, but legally library staff can only tell a parent the number of books their child has checked out, not specific titles. Still, the parent is financially responsible for the material their minor child borrows.


The solution:


  •         Your child may sign a Waiver Form to allow you to have access to his or her library records. It is your child’s choice. Ask a staff member about this option.



  •        Your child will need to register for a personal identification number (PIN). You may also check your account online.


  •         Accompany your child to the library so you know what materials your child is checking out. It is a great experience to share together.


  •       Set guidelines with your child on the number and types of materials he or she borrows.


  •         Ask your child to obtain a print out of the materials he or she checks out from the library.


  •         Check materials out on your own library card. You will have full access to all materials borrowed.


The Public Library is a source of wonderful information. Enjoy your visit to the library and establish it as an important place you and your child can rely upon for life long learning.



For more information on your right to privacy, please ask a library staff member or refer to the following public documents:


Public Records Act. (Protection of Library Circulation and Registration Records, Government Code, Title 1, Division 7, Chapter 3.5, Section 6254.).

USA Patriot Act.

American Library Association Code of Ethics.

Monterey County Free Libraries Policy on Confidentiality of Patron Records.