Privacy and Confidentiality

Privacy, Confidentiality and Law Enforcement Requests


The Princeton Public Library is committed to protecting the privacy and personal information of those who use the library and its services. This policy applies to all circulation and library use records, including use of the internet as well as any other personally identifiable information. This policy reflects the values in the American Library Association’s Code of Ethics (see Attachment 2), which states: “We protect each library user’s right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and re- sources consulted, borrowed, acquired, or transmitted.”

In addition, N.J.S.A. 18A: 73-43.1.2 protects the confidentiality of details about library use contained in records required for circulation or other public uses of the library. Library records deemed confidential pursuant to NJSA 18A: 73-43.1.2 will not be made available to members of the public, press or any agency of state, federal or local government without an order from a court of competent jurisdiction, or as otherwise required by law.

The USA Patriot Act of 2008 expands the authority of the federal government to conduct investigations in the interests of national security. This law’s enactment increases the possibility that library-related activity, including the use of library computers to access the Web or email, could be subject to government surveillance. The Princeton Public Library will continue to do its utmost to safeguard privacy and will not divulge personally identifiable information, requests for information or materials, use of the library’s computers or internet access, resources consulted or materials borrowed except to the extent to which it is legally compelled.

Confidential Information Retention

The Princeton Public Library does not sell cardholder information to third parties and does not dissemi- nate cardholder information except as required by law. The library collects only enough information necessary to transact library business and provide services consistent with our mission. Technology solu- tions are employed to help keep personal information reasonably secure from unauthorized access. The Executive Director shall have sole discretion with respect to determining the appropriate retention of records.

Library Use of Email

The library requests email contact information in order to provide information about the library’s ser- vices and upcoming events as well as reminders that material checked out is about to become due or is overdue. Any cardholder can decline to receive emails from the library at the time of registration, at a later date by sending an email to or by unsubscribing directly.

The library is not responsible for the privacy and security practices of non-library websites and email providers accessed from a library workstation or laptop. Computer users should review each site’s policies and security practices and take other reasonable precautions.

Law Enforcement Requests

Library records containing personally identifiable information are confidential and shall not be disclosed, except as required by law. The Executive Director, or any person duly appointed in writing by the Executive Director, shall be responsible for handling all law enforcement or similar requests to obtain confidential information held by the library.

If a law enforcement agent or officer seeking production of library records does not have a subpoena issued by a court or court order compelling the production of such records, the Executive Director will explain the library’s privacy and confidentiality policy and the State’s confidentiality laws and inform the agent or officer that information will not be made available without the production of a valid subpoena or court order. If the agent or officer produces a court order or subpoena issued by a court, the Executive Director shall immediately refer it to legal counsel for review. Based on any advice of legal counsel, the Executive Director, or their duly appointed designee, shall determine whether to release the requested confidential information, move to quash the subpoena or take other measures.

Staff members understand and seek to protect privacy rights at all times. Staff members approached by a law enforcement officer or anyone who requests information about another person’s library use shall refer all inquiries to the Executive Director or their duly appointed designee.

Confidentiality for All Cardholders

The library’s confidentiality policy, consistent with state and federal law, as well as the American Library Association’s Code of Ethics and the Library Bill of Rights (see Attachment 2), applies to all cardholders. Parents or guardians of children under the age of 18 will be given information about items checked out to their child’s account upon request only if the account contains an outstanding balance of $20 or more. Parents or guardians must show a valid form of ID or other material reasonably evidencing legal guardianship of such child.

Physical possession of a library card or library card number may serve as a proxy for authorization to obtain information and services for and about another cardholder. For example, a cardholder may present another cardholder’s library card for purposes of picking up books on the “hold” shelf or to make inquiries about overdue fines.

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