Confidentiality of Library Records

The Belmont Public Library is dedicated to protecting the privacy and confidentiality of our patrons.  In accordance with the requirements of Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 78, Section 7, and in accordance with the recommendations of the American Library Association and the Minuteman Library Network, the Belmont Public Library recognizes that all circulation records, records identifying names of users with specific materials and all library registration files identifying names, addresses and telephone numbers with a library-assigned registration number, shall be confidential and will not be divulged to anyone other than the user except under presentation of a subpoena or search warrant. All staff members must respect this right of confidentiality.  No records can be made available to any inquiries, governmental or otherwise, unless a warrant or a subpoena has been served by a court of competent jurisdiction and the library administration has consulted with legal counsel to determine if it is proper to release requested information.  In cases involving the USA Patriot Act, some search warrants or subpoenas come with a“gag order” automatically attached, preventing staff from telling the patron or the public that information has been provided to the FBI.

Procedure:  All inquiries for patron information should be referred to the library director or designated alternate.

Reference: Code of Ethics of the American Library Association

Policy on Confidentiality of Library Records

Third Party and Law Enforcement Requests for Library Records and User Information

The legal custodian of records for the Belmont Public Library is the Library Director. As the legal custodian of records, the Library Director is the person responsible for responding to any request for library records or information about a library user.

The Library Director may designate one or more library employees to serve as persons responsible for responding to any request for library records or information about a library user when the Library Director is absent or unavailable.

The circulation and registration records of the Belmont Public Library shall not be made available to any third party nor any law enforcement agency of a local, state, or federal government except when a court order in proper form, issued by a court of competent jurisdiction after a showing of good cause, is presented to the library by the law enforcement agency or person seeking the records.

No library employee or volunteer may release library records or reveal information about a library user to any third party or law enforcement agent unless authorized to do so by the Library Director or the Library Director’s designated alternate.  In all circumstances, without exception, employees and volunteers shall follow the procedures set forth in Belmont Public Library Staff Procedure Document “Guidelines for Responding to Requests for Library Records and User Information.”

The Library Director and the Belmont Public Library Board are jointly responsible for ensuring that every library employee and volunteer is provided with a copy of the Policy and Staff Directive and ensuring that every employee and volunteer participate in a training program on their implementation.

Adopted by the Belmont Board of Library Trustees
12/16/ 2008