Confidentiality of Library Patron Records Policy

The purpose of this policy is to ensure confidentiality of library patron records and the
expectation of privacy when using library materials, as well as to identify those limited
circumstances under which information regarding a patron’s use of the library will be released to third parties.

General Policies Regarding Patron Records

All library patron use records shall remain confidential and shall not be disclosed to any person, local agency, state agency, or federal agency except as follows:

  • To a person acting within the scope of his or her duties within the administration of the library.
  • To the patron himself/herself, upon verification of identity.
  • To a person authorized, in writing, by the patron to whom the records pertain, to
    inspect the records.
  • In response to a valid court order signed by a judge.

For the purpose of this policy, “patron use records” includes the following:

  • Any written record or electronic record, that is used to identify the patron, including,
    but not limited to, a patron’s name, address, telephone number, or e-mail address, that a patron provides in order to become eligible to borrow or use books and other
    materials.
  • Any written or electronic transaction or other record that identifies a patron’s
    borrowing information or use of library information resources, including, but not limited to, database search records, borrowing records, class records and any other personally identifiable uses of library resources, information requests, or inquires.

Any employee who receives a request for library records of patrons over the age of 14 shall ask for the identification of the person or entity making the request and then immediately refer such person or the agent of that person or entity to the Director of Libraries or, in the absence of the Director of Libraries, to the person-in-charge of the library building.

Upon receipt of a court order, the Director of Libraries or designee will consult with the City Attorney’s Office to ensure the court order is in proper form and otherwise valid.

This policy shall not apply to the statistical reports of patron use or to the records of fines
collected by the library.

Policy Regarding Patrons under the age of 14

The Library will disclose current circulation records for children age 14 and under upon request from the child’s parent or legal guardian. In order to facilitate such a request, information will only be provided to the parent or guardian that originally authorized the child to obtain a library card. In all instances, valid government issued ID must be present at the time of request. Information regarding the account of a child age 14 and under may only be requested in person.

Policy Regarding Patrons over the age of 14

Patrons age 14 or older can apply for library cards without the consent of a parent or guardian. The Library will maintain confidentiality of patron records for patrons age 14 or older in accordance with the general policies stated above.

Fine payment, PIN and Privacy Policy

The library will not disclose any information regarding the existence of a library account to any patron over the phone without verification of patron name, address, barcode number, date of birth and library PIN or Driver’s License number. All information, including information regarding fine amounts, will only be provided to the cardholder. In person information requests regarding fines, Library PIN or material out on loan must be accompanied by current photo ID, as defined in the City of Palo Alto Library Card Registration Policy.

Approved by: Monique le Conge Ziesenhenne, Library Director (Date: June, 2015)
Approved as to form: Albert S. Yang, Deputy City Attorney

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