Suggested Procedures for Implementing "Policy on Confidentiality of Library Records"

When drafting local policies, libraries should consult with their legal counsel to ensure these policies are based upon and consistent with applicable federal, state*, and local law concerning the confidentiality of library records, the disclosure of public records, and the protection of individual privacy. Suggested procedures include the following:

  1. The library staff member receiving the request to examine or obtain information relating to circulation or other records identifying the names of library users must immediately refer the person making the request to the responsible officer of the institution, who shall explain the confidentiality policy.
  2. The director, upon receipt of a search warrant, subpoena issued by a court, or a court order, shall contact an attorney who is familiar with library law to determine if such search warrant, subpoena issued by a court, or court order is in good form and if there is a showing of good cause for its issuance.
  3. If the search warrant, subpoena issued by a court, or a court order is not in proper form or if good cause has not been shown, the library with advice of its attorney should insist that such defects be cured before any records are released.
  4. The legal process requiring the production of circulation or other library records is ordinarily in the form of a subpoena duces tecum (bring your records) requiring the responsible library officer to attend court or to provide testimony at his or her deposition. It also may require him or her to bring along certain designated circulation or other specified records.
  5. Staff should be trained and required to report any threats or unauthorized demands (e.g., those not supported by a search warrant, subpoena issued by a court, or a court order) concerning circulation and other records to the director.
  6. Any problems relating to the privacy of circulation and other records identifying the names of library users that are not provided for above shall be referred to director.

    *NJSA 18A:73-43:2 Library records which contain the names or other personally identifying details regarding the users of libraries are confidential and shall not be disclosed except in the following circumstances:

    1. The records are necessary for the proper operation of the library;
    2. Disclosure is requested by the user; o
    3. Disclosure is required pursuant to a subpoena issued by a court or court order.

    L.1985, c 172, s. 2, eff. May 31, 1985
    NOTE: NJ Open Public Records Act does not supersede NJSA 18A:73-43:2
     

Adopted by the NJLA Executive Board Dec. 19, 2006