Policy on Requests for Library Records by Law Enforcement Officers
The Northville District Library will cooperate with law enforcement within the guidelines set forth by the Michigan Library Privacy Act, MCL 397.602(2)(i).
The Library also endorses the Code of Ethics of the American Library Association that states, “We protect each library user’s right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted”.
The Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 (USA Patriot Act), however, gives the government expanded access to records from libraries and supercedes the Michigan Privacy Act. Under the USA Patriot Act, such access may be granted without the patron’s permission or knowledge.
Library records are retained for only as long as there is legitimate library need for the record. Access to patron records may include but not be limited to:
• Database Search Records: Once a search is conducted, the library does not retain a copy of the search.
• Circulation Records: Records are maintained while materials are checked out. They are destroyed when items are returned and all fines are paid.
• Inter-library Loan Records: Requests for materials outside the library shared system originate with a paper request, which is kept for 3 months following the return of the item to the loaning institution.
• Internet Use Records: Sign-up sheets and electronic personally identifiable information are retained for a maximum of one week.
• Reference Interviews: A reference interview occurs when a patron looking for information approaches a library staff member, and the staff member then interviews the patron in order to narrow down the specific information needed. No paper record is kept during the interview that has any patron information on it. If the patron contacts the reference staff by phone or email, there may be a paper record, which is retained no more than one week.
Staff will comply with law enforcement when supplied with legal subpoena or warrant by following the procedures that support this policy.
Only the Director or her Designee is authorized to release library patron records.
Approved by the Board of Trustees July 24, 2003