State Privacy Laws Regarding Library Records

 

Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia have laws protecting the confidentiality of library records. Two states, Kentucky and Hawaii, have attorney general's  opinions protecting library users' privacy.  The language of these provisions vary from state to state.  The majority of these laws declare that a library user's records and information are confidential, and not subject to disclosure, unless certain conditions are met, such as a user's consent or the service of a court order. The ALA recommends that each library adopt a policy that acknowledges the state library confidentiality provisions, recognizes the confidentiality of information sought or received from library users, and any records or electronic data that disclose the materials consulted, borrowed, or acquired by a library user. These materials may include online search histories, database search records, ILS records or other circulation records, interlibrary loan records, and all other personally identifiable uses of library materials, facilities, programs or services, such as reference interviews. 

Libraries should have in place procedures for working with law enforcement officers when a subpoena or other legal order for records is made.  See Issue at a Glance: Visits and Requests from Law Enforcement Concerning Library Records and User Information  and Guidelines: How to Respond to Law Enforcement Requests for Library Records and User Information for more detailed information on how to respond to law enforcement requests for user information.

Below are the links to the state privacy laws regarding library records: