Confidentiality Policy

The Board of Trustees of Berkeley Heights Public Library supports the basic premise that every individual has the right to read what he or she wishes without fear of censure or legal consequences. BHPL will protect each user’s right to privacy with respect to all information required for registration; information sought or received; and, materials consulted, borrowed or acquired

Exceptions to this policy are provided in N.J.S.A. 18A:73-43:2:

Library records which contain the names or other personally identifying details regarding the users of libraries are confidential and shall not be disclosed except in the following circumstances:

a. The records are necessary for the proper operation of the library
b. Disclosure is requested by the user; or
c. Disclosure is required pursuant to a subpoena issued by a court or court order

L.1985, c.172,2, eff. May 31, 1985

Exceptions to this policy are also contained within the USA PATRIOT Act, adopted by Congress on October 26, 2001. This Act enlarges the ability of the FBI and law enforcement officers to request court orders, including search warrants and court-ordered subpoenas.

No records will be released until the Municipal Attorney has been notified and has determined that such process, order, subpoena, or warrant is in full compliance with local, State or Federal requirements.

As stated in BHPL’s Rules of Conduct and Policy on Unattended Children, children under the age of 6 must be accompanied by an adult on all visits to BHPL and the adult must remain easily accessible. In view of these policies, the parent or adult caregiver holding the child’s library card will be able to access the child’s borrowing record. Becoming a responsible library user is learned behavior, a cooperative experience shared by the child, parent and BHPL staff. Parents and older children will be shown how to access individual borrowing records remotely.

Examples of when records may be disclosed for proper operation of the library include, but are not limited to: correspondence with the collection agency to retrieve overdue materials: discussions concerning borrowing and overdue status with other libraries the patron may be using: and inter-library loan requests. Also, registration information may be used in cases of theft or vandalism, the need to contact parents of school-aged patrons, or illegal use of BHPL’s Internet resources (see BHPL’s Internet Policy and Courteous Use Policy).

Any questions or problems relating to the privacy of library records that are not covered by this policy (or other policies referred to above) will be referred to the Library Director. As necessary, these questions will be discussed with the Library Board of Trustees and Municipal Attorney.

Nothing in this policy shall be construed to limit the public’s right to access under the Open Public Records Act (OPRA).

Procedure for Responding to Requests for Confidential Information

If the staff is approached by anyone making a request for confidential records (registration or usage records, computer or reference use, etc.), the following steps will be taken:

1. The staff member receiving the request(s) will immediately refer the person making the request to the Library Director. If the Director is not available, locate the Assistant Director or, in his/her absence, the Reference Department Head or Reference Librarian. At the same time, notify the Director by telephone if possible.

2. The senior staff member (as outlined above) will verify and record the identity of the person asking for the confidential materials. Then, the senior staff member will explain the Confidentiality Policy and make a copy available.

3. If the Director (or senior staff member) receives a subpoena, search warrant or other court-ordered process, the Municipal Attorney will be notified to determine if the request is properly prepared in accordance with local, State or Federal regulations

4. If the process, order, subpoena or warrant is not in proper form, the Director must insist that any problems be rectified before any records can be released.

5. Any threats or unauthorized demands (those not properly supported by the necessary legal forms) concerning confidential information will be reported to the Director. Such threats or demands will be reported to the Municipal Attorney and President of the Library Board.

6. Any problems or questions relating to this policy which are not addressed above will be referred to the Director.

Adopted October 13, 2003