Kent District Library makes every effort to protect the privacy of library users. The library adheres to the American Library Association Code of Ethics, which states in Article III:
"We protect each library user's right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted."
This policy establishes guidelines for the protection of personally identifiable information contained in library records or accessible in the library or through its computer systems.
Confidentiality of Library Records
In keeping with the American Library Association's Policy on Confidentiality of Library Records and Policy Concerning Confidentiality of Personally Identifiable Information About Library Users and the Michigan Library Privacy Act (MCL 397.601-605), Kent District Library staff will not respond to any informal request by a third party for personally identifiable information about any library user. Such information includes database search records, reference interviews, email requests for information, circulation records, interlibrary loan records, and other personally identifiable uses of library materials, facilities, or services. Library documents and records (other than borrowers' records covered by the Michigan Library Privacy Act [PA 455 of 1982]) shall be available to the public in accordance with the Michigan Freedom of Information Act (PA 442 of 1976) upon a request which precisely describes the exact library public records desired.
Personally identifiable information may be released only to a law enforcement agency after presentation of an order by a court of competent jurisdiction issued in proper form (a court issued subpoena or search warrant) and/or under the provisions of the USA Patriot Act.
The USA PATRIOT Act
The Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act (USA PATRIOT Act) became law on Oct. 26, 2001. Under provisions of the act, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and law enforcement officials may seek court orders for library records for investigations relevant to national security or terrorism. Libraries or librarians served with these search warrants may not disclose, under penalty of law, the existence of the warrants or the fact that records were produced as a result of the warrants. Patrons cannot be told their records were given to law enforcement agencies or that they were the subjects of FBI investigations.
Personally Identifiable Information
Kent District Library will collect only the information needed to contact library users, such as mailing address, email address, phone number, etc., in order to ensure the proper notification, lending, and return of library materials and the collection of fines. Records will be retained for the shortest length of time necessary to facilitate library operations.
Individuals may submit their name, email address, postal address, telephone number, or other identifying information in order to receive library services such as borrowing privileges, access to Internet stations, receiving personal responses to questions, receiving library promotional materials, or being added to specific mailing lists. The library does not sell, rent or otherwise distribute information to outside parties except for possible uses related to the recovery of materials. However, library records may be subject to disclosure to law enforcement officials under provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act and under some circumstances librarians may be forbidden to disclose that certain records have been requested or obtained.
Email reference questions (Ask KDL) are retained only for the purpose of statistics and to assist with follow up queries from clients. The questions themselves and any personal information such as names, email addresses, telephone and fax numbers submitted with the questions are confidential and are treated as other library user information under provisions the Confidentiality of Library Records policy above.
Remote Access to Electronic Resources and Web Server Usage Tracking
The library may track the usage of the library website and other library systems and services accessed through library servers.
The library automatically collects and stores: the untitled name of the domain and host from which you access the Internet; the Internet protocol (IP) address of the computer you use; the browser software you use and your operating system; the date and time you access our sites; and the Internet address of the site from which you linked directly to our sites.
The library uses this information only as anonymous aggregate data to determine the number of visitors to different sections of our site and to help us make our site more useful. The library does not use the information to track or record information about individuals.
Cookies on Library Workstations
Cookies are small text files placed on user computers by a website to enable customization of individual visits. Some library electronic services, such as the library catalog and remote databases, set temporary cookies for current sessions. These cookies do not capture personal information and are deleted when sessions are ended. Visitors can refuse the cookie by using instructions provided in browsers. Refusing or disabling cookies may result in an inability to access some online library resources.
Remote Access Databases
Many of the library's electronic databases can be freely accessed from anywhere by anyone with a Kent District Library card. The vendors of some of these databases collect statistics such the names of the databases used, how often they are used, and whether they are used in the library or by remote access. Database vendors used by the library do not track personal information or specific queries submitted to the databases.
Use of electronic services is logged automatically by servers and software programs are used to summarize data from those visits. The data summaries do not identify individual visitors by name.
Server logs and statistical summaries are reviewed to learn how individual electronic services are used in order to improve website content, better manage network traffic, and troubleshoot server problems. Examples of statistics gathered include:
- Website hits (patron names are not collected)
- Pages visited (patron names are not included)
- Navigation of website (patron names are not included)
Security of Library Records
The Kent District Library makes every reasonable effort to protect its network from hackers.
Email that people send to the library is not necessarily secure against interception. The library does not require sensitive information such as social security numbers or credit card numbers, and it is advisable not to send such sensitive information by email.
Procedures for Handling Requests for Library Records
Library staff who are approached by a law enforcement officer or agent with any request or court order to examine or obtain the library records of any library user will ask for identification and direct the officer or agent to a Branch Manager or other designated person in charge. The Branch Manager or the designated person in charge will review the request or search warrant and seek the advice of an attorney.
Search warrants signed by the court are immediately enforceable. Staff will request identification and a copy of the warrant. Staff may request that the agent or officers direct inquiries through the Branch Manager or the designated person in charge. The Branch Manager or designated person in charge may request time to fax the warrant to an attorney for verification. If the officer or agent wishes to immediately enforce the search warrant, staff should not interfere but should proceed to notify the Branch Manager or designated person in charge of the search.