The American Library Association is a good source for
guidance in circulation and privacy policies . State statues are
also important to consider.
ALA 52.4 Confidentiality of Library Records.
The ethical responsibilities of librarians, as well as statutes in most
states and the District of Columbia, protect the privacy of library users.
Confidentiality extends to "information sought or received, and
materials consulted, borrowed, acquired" and includes database search
records, reference interviews, circulation records, interlibrary loan
records, and other personally identifiable uses of library materials,
facilities, or services.
ALA Code of Ethics 54.15. Librarians
must protect each user's right to privacy with respect to information
sought or received, and materials consulted, borrowed, or acquired.
Wisconsin Statues. In a recent incident
in the Green Bay Schools, Jim Bowen summarized the Wisconsin standards
(March 5, 1999):
Chapter 43 of the Wisconsin Statutes restricts access
to library media center patron circulation records to only a few people.
Records of any library which is in whole or in part supported by public
funds, including the records of a public library system, indicating which
of its documents or other materials have been loaned to or used by an
identifiable individual may not be disclosed except to person acting
within the scope of their duties in the administration of the library or
system or persons authorized by the individual to inspect such records, or
by order of a court of law (Section 43.30, Wisconsin Statutes)
DPI Legal Counsel noted that the Wisconsin Attorney General's Office
"has issued an opinion that the confidentiality provision of the law
covers circulation records of public school libraries as well as other
public libraries." (Donald Lamb, Channel DLS, October 1989, p. 6;
Robert J. Paul, Law News, p. 17). Furthermore, "only school library
and public library administrators - not school or municipal administrators
- and person granted permission by the borrower or ordered by a court of
law may inspect a public or school library's circulation records."
(Lamb, p. 6)
DPI's Legal Counsel also noted that the laws allow "non-library
personnel, whether school or non-school connected such as a teacher or
parent, to know how many times a certain volume has been withdrawn from
the library over a certain period of time, so long as the individual
identification of the person withdrawing the material is not made
available to the teacher or the parent." (Paul, p. 17)
Think about what these mean for your circulation