Confidentiality of library records is directly related to the ability of citizens to use library materials and pursue information without fear of intimidation.
Texas Government Code Title 5 Section 552.124, Public Information, prohibits the disclosure of library records that identify a person who requests, obtains, or uses library materials or services unless:
- The records are released to the person to whom the information relates, or to that person’s authorized representative, or
- Disclosure is reasonably necessary to the operation of the library, and the records are not confidential under other state or federal law, or
- A law enforcement agency or prosecutor obtains a court order or subpoena for the records by showing to a district court that the records are necessary to protect the public safety or that they are evidence of an offense or constitute evidence that a particular person committed an offense.
Examples of Information the Library Collects About You
- Your name and correct residence address. This information is required before a library card can be issued.
- Records of items you have checked out, titles in your saved lists and reading history, and titles you have on hold.
- Records of items you have overdue and items you have returned late or damaged. Items returned on time in good condition are removed from your record when they are checked in.
- Records of any fines and fees you owe. Delinquent accounts may be shown to collection agencies or law enforcement.
- Contact information for people who have signed up for library classes or programs.
- Records of people and organizations that use the library meeting room facilities.
- Records of individuals who sign-up to schedule computer use.
How the Library Protects Your Confidentiality
- Retains only that personal information necessary to deliver library services and maintain control of library property.
- Eliminates confidential information from public access, and verifies your identity during telephone transactions.
- Purges electronically or manually shreds data in accordance with the state retention schedules.
- Releases account information only to the account holder or to that person’s authorized representative, including the adult responsible for a child’s card.
- Does not share, sell, or lease your personal information to any commercial or nonprofit entity that is not affiliated with the library.
- Ensures that its third-party contractors and service providers adhere to its confidentiality policies.
- Regularly removes Web history, cached files, and other computer and Internet use records.
- Does not share with third parties or private or public agencies any information about library users, the materials they check out, the information they seek, or the services they use, unless required to do so under the provisions of the Texas Government Code or the U.S.A. Patriot Act.
- Denies all requests from third parties for records containing personal information, and refers such questions to the Director when necessary.
- The Director consults with the City Attorney before determining the proper response to any request for records.
What You Can Do to Help Protect Your Privacy
- Protect your account number, library card, and PIN (Personal Identification Number).
- Use care when allowing others to use your library card. Use care in the use of your child’s card.
- Return materials on time.
- Notify us immediately if your library card is lost or stolen.
- Use care when accessing or inputting any kind of personal information on the library’s computers.
- Be sure to log out of any secure sites you have visited.
- You are entitled to review your personal information and are responsible for keeping it up to date. Inform the library if your name, address, or contact information changes.
- Questions or concerns about your privacy and confidentiality rights may be filed in writing with the Library Director.
U. S. A. Patriot Act
Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism
Congress passed the U.S.A. Patriot Act in October 2001 following the September 11 attacks. While law enforcement officials have always needed a court order or subpoena to obtain library customer records, the Act relaxed the requirements for obtaining court orders and search warrants in investigations concerning national security and terrorism. The Act also expanded the range of records that can be searched in these investigations to include business records such as those of libraries and bookstores. Furthermore, if such a search is conducted, Library staff cannot tell you that your records were given to law enforcement agencies or that you were the subject of an investigation.
Many provisions of the PATRIOT Act, including the section that relates to libraries, expire automatically on December 31, 2005, unless renewed by Congress.* However, there are a few exceptions to this rule.
The Library posts the following notice about the USA Patriot Act:
Attention: Under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT ACT (Public Law 107-56), records of all books and materials you borrow from this library, and of Internet sites you visit on library computers, may be obtained by federal agents. This law prohibits librarians from informing you if federal agents have obtained your records.
For more information about the U.S.A. Patriot Act, go to:
* The U. S. A Patriot Act was reauthorized in February 2010. Following a lack of Congressional approval, parts of the Patriot Act expired on June 1, 2015. With the passage of the USA Freedom Act on June 2, 2015, the expired parts were restored and renewed through 2019.
Last updated: May 17, 2017