Privacy in the Public Library

MHLS Patron Privacy Statement

Public Libraries are committed to protecting the borrowing information of patrons, and their right to access information that is controversial, sensitive or personal, without fear of embarrassment or humiliation.

  • New York State Law (Civil Practice Laws and Rules sec 2307 ยง4509) guarantees the confidentiality of library patron borrowing records. Your records can only be viewed upon presentation of a subpoena.Under New York State Law, if you are signing for a library card for someone under 18, the library is, under the above law, prohibited from revealing that minor’s borrowed materials to you.
  • USA PATRIOT ACT still requires the presentation of a subpoena for access to your records.
  • Your Patron Information. The information in your patron record is the property of the library that is listed as your home library. While other libraries have access to that data, no other library can use that data for anything other than library transactions. Your home library can use the data for library mailings. If the library has a Friends group, they can allow the group to also use the patron data, but information will not be given to any other organization. If you do not wish to have the Friends group to have your name, address, email and telephone, notify the library and you will be removed from that list.
  • Your borrowing history. As soon as you return an item within the due date, the link to that item is deleted from your patron record. However the software retains in the item’s record, the name of the last person who took it out and the name of the current borrower of the item. In addition, if you owe a fine or have an outstanding bill that information stays on your record until six months after payment has been received. The software also keeps the items you have pending through Request-A-Title.
  • Reading History Option: If you elect to use the reading history option, the system will remember all items you checked out even after you return them. This information is protected under the privacy laws and can only be accessed by you or by the library if presented with a subpoena. You can at any time delete items from your reading history and those items will no longer be included. For people who do not choose the reading history options, no history of checked out items is kept.
  • If you wish to be notified of item availability or fine notices by e-mail, be aware that the e-mail message will include the title of the item.

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