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Service Desk Manual: Privacy and Confidentiality

Privacy Guidlines

  • Do not share any library patron information. This includes:
    • Their contact information (phone, email, address or name).
    • What materials a patron has checked out.
    • What patron is borrowing a reserve (If someone asks, you cannot tell them who is borrowing the reserve. You can tell them when it is expected to be returned.)
  • Do not allow someone to check out materials with another person's library card.
  • Be sure that books on the hold shelf are kept secure. These books have personal patron information on the covers.
  • Do not comment on the material a patron is borrowing.

 

Patron privacy is a core component in this position. Violating patron privacy will result in immediate termination.

American Library Association, Library Bill of Rights

The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services.

I. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.

II. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.

III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.

IV. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.

V. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.

VI. Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.

VII. All people, regardless of origin, age, background, or views, possess a right to privacy and confidentiality in their library use. Libraries should advocate for, educate about, and protect people’s privacy, safeguarding all library use data, including personally identifiable information.

Adopted June 19, 1939, by the ALA Council; amended October 14, 1944; June 18, 1948; February 2, 1961; June 27, 1967; January 23, 1980; January 29, 2019.

Inclusion of “age” reaffirmed January 23, 1996.

Although the Articles of the Library Bill of Rights are unambiguous statements of basic principles that should govern the service of all libraries, questions do arise concerning application of these principles to specific library practices. See the documents designated by the Intellectual Freedom Committee as Interpretations of the Library Bill of Rights.

Maine Library Privacy Law

SUMMARY

Current law designates as confidential library records that identify the books or materials a patron uses at a public library, the Maine State Library, the Law and Legislative Reference Library and the libraries of the University of Maine System, the Maine Community College System and the Maine Maritime Academy. This bill retains that designation of confidentiality and also designates as confidential personally identifying information about the library patron. The bill also retains the provision that the confidential information may be released with the written permission of the library patron or pursuant to a court order but adds language permitting the confidential information to be released to officers, employees, volunteers and agents of the library for administrative purposes. The bill clarifies that a library may publish and release as a public record aggregated and statistical information about library use if the confidentiality of a library patron's personally identifying information is not jeopardized.

http://legislature.maine.gov/legis/bills/bills_127th/billtexts/SP012701.asp

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.

FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children's education records. These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level. Students to whom the rights have transferred are "eligible students."

  • Parents or eligible students have the right to inspect and review the student's education records maintained by the school. Schools are not required to provide copies of records unless, for reasons such as great distance, it is impossible for parents or eligible students to review the records. Schools may charge a fee for copies.
  • Parents or eligible students have the right to request that a school correct records which they believe to be inaccurate or misleading. If the school decides not to amend the record, the parent or eligible student then has the right to a formal hearing. After the hearing, if the school still decides not to amend the record, the parent or eligible student has the right to place a statement with the record setting forth his or her view about the contested information.
  • Generally, schools must have written permission from the parent or eligible student in order to release any information from a student's education record. However, FERPA allows schools to disclose those records, without consent, to the following parties or under the following conditions (34 CFR § 99.31):
    • School officials with legitimate educational interest;
    • Other schools to which a student is transferring;
    • Specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes;
    • Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a student;
    • Organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the school;
    • Accrediting organizations;
    • To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena;
    • Appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies; and
    • State and local authorities, within a juvenile justice system, pursuant to specific State law.

Schools may disclose, without consent, "directory" information such as a student's name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, honors and awards, and dates of attendance. However, schools must tell parents and eligible students about directory information and allow parents and eligible students a reasonable amount of time to request that the school not disclose directory information about them. Schools must notify parents and eligible students annually of their rights under FERPA. The actual means of notification (special letter, inclusion in a PTA bulletin, student handbook, or newspaper article) is left to the discretion of each school.

 

US Department of Education (ED). (2021, August 25). Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Ed.Gov. https://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/index.html

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