Privacy and Confidentiality Policy
Section A. References
The confidentiality policy of the Dubuque County Library is based on the First and Fourth Amendments to the United States Constitution, the Code of Iowa, and the Code of Ethics of the American Library Association.
First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” (United States Constitution)
Fourth Amendment: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” (United States Constitution)
Code of Iowa: “Examination of Public Records (Open Records)”
22.7 Confidential records.
The following public records shall be kept confidential, unless otherwise ordered by a court, by the lawful custodian of the records, or by another person duly authorized to release such information…:
13. The records of a library which, by themselves or when examined with other public records, would reveal the identity of the library patron checking out or requesting an item or information from the library. The records shall be released to a criminal or juvenile justice agency only pursuant to an investigation of a particular person or organization suspected of committing a known crime. The records shall be released only upon a judicial determination that a rational connection exists between the requested release of information and a legitimate end and that the need for the information is cogent and compelling.
- Communications not required by law, rule, procedure, or contract that are made to a government body or to any of its employees by identified persons outside of government, to the extent that the government body receiving those communications from such persons outside of government could reasonably believe that those persons would be discouraged from making them to that government body if they were available for general public examination.
Professional Ethics: “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.” (Code of Ethics of the American Library Association)
Section B. Definitions
- Privacy is the right to open inquiry without having the subject of one’s interest examined or scrutinized by others.
- Confidentiality exists when a library is in possession of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) about users and keeps that information private on their behalf.
- Personal Information includes specific information such as an individual’s name, address, telephone number, and email address. In some places this is also called Personal Identification.
- Personally Identifiable Information is information that connects Personal Information with preferences and interests such as webpages searched, reference questions asked, or items checked out from a Library.
- Library Cards provide ease of access to a type of Library Record.
- Library Record means a document, record, or other method of storing information retained by a library that identifies Personal Information and/or a person as having requested or obtained specific information or materials from a library.
- Public Records are documents, videos, or pieces of information related to the conduct of government that are not considered confidential.
- The Custodian of the Library Records is the Library Director or their designee.
Section C. Confidentiality Policy
Confidentiality is essential to protect the exercise of First and Fourth Amendment rights. In accordance with First and Fourth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, the Iowa Code and professional ethics, the Board of Trustees of the Dubuque County Library respects the privacy of users and recognizes its responsibility to protect their privacy.
- The library will not reveal the identities of individual users nor reveal the information sources or services they consult unless required by law. Confidentiality extends to information sought or received and materials consulted, borrowed or acquired. Confidentiality includes database search records, reference interviews, interlibrary loan records, computer use records, and all other personally identifiable uses of library materials, facilities or services.
- The library will hold confidential the names of card holders and their registration information and not provide access for private, public or commercial use.
- The library will not release registration, circulation or other records protected under the Iowa Code unless it is required by law to release the information. Circumstances which may require the library to release the information include the following:
1. A criminal or juvenile justice agency is seeking the information in pursuant to an investigation of a particular person or organization suspected of committing a known crime and the criminal or juvenile justice agency presents the library Director with a court order demonstrating that there has been a judicial determination that a rational connection exists between the requested release of information and a legitimate end and that the need for the information is cogent and compelling.
- The library receives a valid court order requiring the library to release registration, circulation or other records protected under the Iowa Code and the information is not sought in conjunction with a criminal or juvenile justice investigation.
Section C. Procedures for enforcing the policy on confidentiality of library records.
1. The library staff member receiving a request to examine or obtain information relating to registration records or circulation records or other records identifying the names of library users, shall immediately refer the requestor to the Library Director.
3. To prevent any misunderstanding, the staff member should avoid discussing with the person making the request what user information may or may not be available, or what the library can or cannot do.
- If the library Director is not available staff will inform the requestor when the Director will be available. If pressed to act sooner, contact the Director immediately whether the Director is away on business or at home. In the event the Director cannot be reached, the highest ranking person on duty is responsible for working with the requestor.
- The Library Director shall meet with the requestor the information. If the officer does not have a proper court order or warrant compelling the release of records, the Library Director shall refuse to provide the information. The Library Director may explain the confidentiality policy and the State of Iowa confidentiality law, and inform the agent or officer that users’ records are not available except when a proper court order or warrant in good form has been presented to the library.
- If the records requested cover registration, circulation or other records protected under the Iowa Code, and the Director is uncertain about whether the order, or subpoena presented to the library Director is sufficient to require release of the records, the library Director may immediately consult with legal counsel to determine if such process, order, or subpoena is sufficient to require release of the records.
- If any written request, process, order, or subpoena is not in proper form or does not otherwise appear to be sufficient to support releasing the records, the library Director shall insist that such defects be cured before any records are released.
- If the Library Director alone or in consultation with library’s attorney determines that the order or warrant is sufficient and compels the release of the records, the Library Director shall release the records.
- If the requestor is not a law enforcement officer and has not presented any type of court or administrative order requiring release of the requested information, the library Director shall refuse to provide the requested records. The Library Director may explain the confidentiality policy and the state’s confidentiality law.
- The Library Director is authorized to take legal action to resist releasing requested registration, circulation or other records protected under the Iowa Code if the Library Director and the library’s legal counsel deems such action to be appropriate.
- Any threats or unauthorized demands (i.e. those not supported by a written request, process, order, or warrant) concerning circulation and other records identifying the names of library users shall be reported to the Director.
- Any problems relating to the privacy of circulation and other records identifying the names of library users which are not provided for above shall be referred to the Library Director.
Written and approved: Oct. 2003, 3/09