Boulder Junction Public Library

Privacy Policy

Adopted February 2004
Amended December 2004

Purpose
The Boulder Junction Public Library protects the privacy of library records and the confidentiality of patron use of the library as required by relevant laws.  In addition, the Boulder Junction Public Library Board supports the principle of freedom of inquiry for library patrons and has adopted this policy to protect against the unwarranted invasion of the personal privacy of library users.  Likewise, the library staff will maintain a high level of professionalism in keeping personal and circulation information private.

Legal requirements

The relevant Wisconsin laws concerning the confidentiality of library records are Wisconsin Statute Section 43.30, Wisconsin 2003 Act 207 and the Wisconsin Personal Information Practices Act (Sections 19.62 to 19.80).

Under Section 43.30, library records which indicate the identity of any individual who borrows or uses the library's documents or other materials, resources or services may only be disclosed:
(1) with the consent of the individual library user
(2) by court order
(3) to persons acting within the scope of their duties in the administration of the library or library system
(4) to other libraries (under certain circumstances) for interlibrary loan purposes [see ss. 43.30(2) and (3)].
(5) to custodial parents or guardians of children under the age of 16 as required under sub. (4)
 
Wisconsin 2003 Act 207 amends Wisconsin Statute Section 43.30 to require that a library that is in whole or part supported by public funds must disclose to a custodial parent or guardian of a child under the age of 16 (as required under sub. (4)) any records relating to that child’s use of the library’s documents or other materials, resources or services.  Records indicating a child’s address, phone number or age do not fall within this definition.  The custodial parent or guardian must be able to prove they are the child’s parent or legal guardian to obtain these records.

The Boulder Junction Public Library already requires a parent or guardian to be the responsible party for children under age 18 in order for them to obtain a library card.  As the responsible party on the application, a parent or legal guardian already has the right to view the child’s library records.

Wisconsin’s Personal Information Practices Act (Sections 19.62 to 19.80) requires all state and local government organizations (including public libraries) to develop procedures to protect the privacy of personal information kept by the organization. Libraries (and all other government organizations) are required to develop rules of conduct for employees involved in collecting, maintaining, using, and providing access to personally identifiable information. Libraries are also required to ensure that employees handling such records "know their duties and responsibilities relating to protecting personal privacy, including applicable state and federal laws."

Records indicating the identity of library users include a library user’s name, library card number, telephone number, street address, post office box number or Zip code.

Records held by the library that include personally identifiable information about library users may also contain information that must be provided to those who request that information, as required by Wisconsin’s public records law.  Personally identifiable information about library users must be withheld from any records that are publicly disclosed, except as the records are disclosed under one of the four exceptions provided by Section 43.30 (see above).  

Rules to be followed by library staff

(1) As required by state law, library staff may only disclose library records indicating the identity of library users under the following conditions:
a) disclosure to staff members of the Boulder Junction Public Library and the staff of other libraries and library systems only according to written procedures that comply with the laws cited above and that are approved by the director
b) disclosure as authorized by the individual library user
c) disclosure pursuant to court order (see below for handling of different types of court orders)
d) disclosure to custodial parents or guardians of children under the age of 16 as required under sub. (4).
(2) Library staff must refer all requests for library records and all requests for information about particular library users to the library director or the library director’s designee.
(3) Library staff are not allowed to share information about use of library resources and services by identified library patrons except as necessary for the performance of their job duties and in accordance with procedures approved by the library director and/or board.
(4) All staff members and volunteers must sign a confidentiality agreement to be kept on file at the Boulder Junction Public Library and the Northern Waters Library Service. (see Appendix D in policy manual)

Handling of court orders
[Note:  All search warrants are court orders, but not all subpoenas are court orders.  Library staff may not disclose library records in response to a subpoena that is not a court order if those records indicate the identity of library users.]

If a law enforcement officer (or anyone else) brings a subpoena  directing library staff to produce library records:
(1) Notify the library director or, if the director is not available, notify the highest-ranking staff person on duty.
(2) The library director or the highest-ranking staff person should ask the municipal attorney (or library counsel) to review the subpoena.
(3) If the subpoena has any legal defects, require that the defects be cured before records are released.
(4) If appropriate, ask legal counsel to draft a protective order to be submitted to the court keeping the requested information confidential and limiting its use to the particular case.  
(5) Follow legal counsel’s advice for compliance with the subpoena.

If a law enforcement officer (or anyone else) brings a court order in the form of a search warrant :
(1) A search warrant is executable immediately, unlike a subpoena. The law enforcement officers may begin a search of library records as soon as they enter the library.
(2) Request that the law enforcement officers wait until the municipal attorney (or library counsel) is present before the search begins in order to allow counsel an opportunity to examine the search warrant and to assure that the search conforms to the terms of the search warrant.  (The law enforcement officials are not required to agree to your request to delay the search.)
(3) Cooperate with the search to ensure that only the records identified in the warrant are produced and that no other users’ records are disclosed.

If FBI agents bring a court order in the form of a search warrant issued under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) :
(1) A search warrant is executable immediately, unlike a subpoena. The law enforcement officers may begin a search of library records as soon as they enter the library.
(2) Request that the law enforcement officers wait until the municipal attorney (or library counsel) is present before the search begins in order to allow counsel an opportunity to examine the search warrant and to assure that the search conforms to the terms of the search warrant.  (The law enforcement officials are not required to agree to your request.)
(3) Cooperate with the search to ensure that only the records identified in the warrant are produced and that no other users’ records are disclosed.
(4) It is illegal to disclose to any other person (other than those persons necessary to produce the tangible things sought in the warrant) that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has sought or obtained records or other items under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

 

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