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Confidentiality of Library Records Policy


The Board of Trustees of the Knoxville Public Library recognizes the responsibility to protect the privacy of library users. Confidentiality is essential to protect the exercise of First Amendment rights.

This policy is meant to protect the privacy of library users while complying with the Constitution of the United States of America, federal statutes, and the Code of Iowa.

Library records are treated specifically in Code of Iowa 22.7 “Examination of Public Records (Open Records)”, paragraphs 13, 14 and 18. The citations are copied here and included in this policy:

22.7 Confidential records.

The following public records shall be kept confidential, unless otherwise ordered by a court, by the lawful custodian of the records, or by another person duly authorized to release such information:

13. The records of a library which, by themselves or when examined with other public records, would reveal the identity of the library patron checking out or requesting an item or information from
the library. The records shall be released to a criminal or juvenile justice agency only pursuant to an investigation of a particular person or organization suspected of committing a known crime. The records shall be released only upon a judicial determination that a rational connection exists between the requested release of information and a legitimate end and that the need for the information is cogent and compelling.

14. The material of a library, museum or archive which has been contributed by a private person to the extent of any limitation that is a condition of the contribution.

18. Communications not required by law, rule, or procedure that are made to a government body or to any of its employees by identified persons outside of government, to the extent that the government body receiving those communications from such persons outside of government could reasonably believe that those persons would be discouraged from making them to that government body if they were available for general public examination.

In keeping with the protections afforded by Constitution of the United States of America, federal statutes, the Code of Iowa, the Knoxville Public Library shall hold confidential:

a. Information sought or received and materials consulted, borrowed or acquired, database search records, reference interviews, interlibrary loan records, computer use records, and all other personally identifiable uses of library materials, facilities or services.

b. The names of card holders and their registration information and not provide access for private, public or commercial use. Release of such information, not attached to a circulation record, could discourage people from applying for library cards.

In keeping with the above statements, the following shall be the policy for Knoxville Public Library records:

1. The lawful custodian of the records is the director of the library and legal counsel is the City Attorney. Every effort shall be made to reach the director if court orders are to be served, whether the director is present in the building or not. In the director’s absence, the assistant director shall serve as temporary custodian of the records. If both are absent, the director shall appoint a temporary custodian of the records.

2. Knoxville Public Library registration records and circulation records shall be kept confidential.

3. If there is a reasonable basis to believe library registration records are necessary to the progress of an investigation or prosecution, the request for such records including the justification for the request, shall be made to the Director, in writing on official letterhead by an official of the investigation or prosecution workforce, who has provided necessary identification.

4. If there is a reasonable basis to believe library circulation records are necessary to the progress of an investigation or prosecution, the judicial system provides the mechanism for seeking release of such confidential records: The issuance of a court order, following a showing of good cause based on specific facts, by a court of competent jurisdiction. Such court orders shall be presented to the library director.

5. Circulation and registration records shall not be made available to any agency of local, state, or federal government except pursuant to such process, order or subpoena as may be authorized under the authority of, and pursuant to, local, state, or federal law relating to civil, criminal, or administrative discovery procedures or legislative investigative power.

6. The issuance or enforcement of any such process, order, or subpoena shall be examined by the library director in consultation with legal counsel and resisted until such time as a proper showing of good cause has been made in a court of competent jurisdiction.

Approved by Board of Trustees—Feb. 19, 2003