State Laws on the Confidentiality of Library Records

Louisiana - North Dakota


State laws are accessible through a variety of sources, both commercial and free. Three free sites are:

American Law Sources On-line (LawSource, Inc.)
FindLaw (Thomson)
WashLaw Web (Washburn University School of Law)

NOTICE: This page is current through June 9, 2011

Legislators in the following states introduced bills in 2011 that, if passed, will affect the privacy interests of library users. The text of proposed legislation is added below each state's current law.

2011
North Dakota - HB 1396 - Signed by Governor (4/4/2011).



Louisiana State Legislature
Louisiana Revised Statutes
Section 44-13. Registration records and other records of use maintained by libraries.

A. Notwithstanding any provisions of this Chapter or any other law to the contrary, records of any library which is in whole or in part supported by public funds, including the records of public, academic, school, and special libraries, and the State Library of Louisiana, indicating which of its documents or other materials, regardless of format, have been loaned to or used by an identifiable individual or group of individuals may not be disclosed except to a parent or custodian of a minor child seeking access to that child's records, to persons acting within the scope of their duties in the administration of the library, to persons authorized in writing by the individual or group of individuals to inspect such records, or by order of a court of law.

B. Notwithstanding any provisions of this Chapter or any other law to the contrary, records of any such library which are maintained for purposes of registration or for determining eligibility for the use of library services may not be disclosed except as provided in Subsection A of this Section.

C. No provision of this Section shall be so construed as to prohibit or hinder any library or any business office operating jointly with a library from collecting overdue books, documents, films, or other items and/or materials owned or otherwise belonging to such library, nor shall any provision of this Section be so construed as to prohibit or hinder any such library or business office from collecting fines on such overdue books, documents, films, or other items and/or materials.

D. No provision of this section shall be so construed as to prohibit or hinder any library or librarian from providing information to appropriate law enforcement officers investigating criminal activity in the library witnessed by an employee or patron of the library and reported by the administrative librarian to the appropriate law enforcement officials.

(1) The term "criminal activity in the library", as used in this subsection, shall mean an activity which constitutes a crime, or otherwise constitutes an offense or violation of any law or ordinance, occurring:

(A) within any library building,
(B) upon any library property, OR
(C) near a library and the proximity of such activity to a library or library property constitutes an element of the offense.

(2) The term "information", as used in this subsection shall include but not be limited to electronic data files, security surveillance video tapes, or other records or materials which may constitute evidence which would assist law enforcement officers in identifying the individual or group of individuals who may have committed criminal activity in the library.


Maine Legislature
Maine Revised Statutes
Section 27-4A-121. Confidentiality of library records.

Records maintained by any public municipal library, the Maine State Library, the Law and Legislative Reference Library and libraries of the University of Maine System, Maine Community College System and the Maine Maritime Academy that contain information relating to the identity of a library patron relative to the patron's use of books or other materials at the library are confidential. Those records may only be released with the express written permission of the patron involved or as the result of a court order. [2007, c. 67, §5 (AMD).]

SECTION HISTORY
1983, c. 208, (NEW). 1991, c. 67, (AMD). 1997, c. 146, §1 (AMD). 1997, c. 146, §2 (AFF). 2007, c. 67, §5 (AMD).



Maryland General Assembly
Code of Maryland
State Government Article: Section 10-616. Same -- Specific records.
(a) In general. -- Unless otherwise provided by law, a custodian shall deny inspection of a public record, as provided in this section.

.....

(e) Circulation records, or other item, collection, or grouping of information about an individual.

(1) Subject to the provisions of paragraph (2) of this subsection, a custodian shall prohibit inspection, use, or disclosure of a circulation record of a public library or other item, collection, or grouping of information about an individual that:

(i) is maintained by a library;
(ii) contains an individual's name or the identifying number, symbol, or other identifying particular assigned to the individual; and
(iii) identifies the use a patron makes of that library's materials, services, or facilities.

(2) A custodian shall permit inspection, use, or disclosure of a circulation record of a public library only in connection with the library's ordinary business and only for the purposes for which the record was created.

(f) Gifts. -- A custodian shall deny inspection of library, archival, or museum material given by a person to the extent that the person who made the gift limits disclosure as a condition of the gift.


Education Article: Section 23-107. Circulation records.

(a) Inspection, use, or disclosure prohibited. -- Subject to the provisions of subsection (b) of this section, a free association, school, college or university library in this State shall prohibit inspection, use, or disclosure of any circulation record or other item, collection, or grouping of information about an individual that:

(1) Is maintained by a library;

(2) Contains an individual's name or the identifying number, symbol, or other identifying particular assigned to the individual; and

(3) Identifies the use a patron makes of that library's materials, services, or facilities.

(b) Exceptions. -- A free association, school, college, or university library in the State shall permit inspection, use, or disclosure of the circulation record of an individual only in connection with the library's ordinary business and only for the purposes for which the record was created.

[1988, ch. 233; 1990, ch. 635.]


General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Massachusetts Laws
Section 78-7. Cities and Towns May Establish Public Libraries.

A town may establish and maintain public libraries for its inhabitants under regulations prescribed by the city council or by the town, and may receive, hold and manage any gift, bequest or devise therefor. The city council of a city or the selectmen of a town may place in such library the books, reports and laws which may be received from the commonwealth. That part of the records of a public library which reveals the identity and intellectual pursuits of a person using such library shall not be a public record as defined by clause Twenty-sixth of section seven of chapter four. Library authorities may disclose or exchange information relating to library users for the purposes of inter-library cooperation and coordination, including but not limited to, the purposes of facilitating the sharing of resources among library jurisdictions as authorized by clause (1) of section nineteen E or enforcing the provisions of sections ninety-nine and one hundred of chapter two hundred and sixty-six.



Michigan Legislature
Michigan Compiled Laws
Section 397-601.

AN ACT to provide for the confidentiality of certain library records; and to provide for the selection and use of library materials.

Section 397-602. Definitions.

Sec. 2. As used in this act:
(a) "Computer" means any connected, directly interoperable or interactive device, equipment, or facility that uses a computer program or other instructions to perform specific operations including logical, arithmetic, or memory functions with or on computer data or a computer program, and that can store, retrieve, alter, or communicate the results of the operations, to a person, computer program, computer, computer system, or computer network.

(b) "Computer network" means the interconnection of hardwire or wireless communication lines with a computer through remote terminals, or a complex consisting of 2 or more interconnected computers.

(c) "Computer program" means a series of internal or external instructions communicated in a form acceptable to a computer that directs the functioning of a computer, computer system, or computer network in a manner designed to provide or produce products or results from the computer, computer system, or computer network.

(d) "Computer system" means a set of related, connected or unconnected, computer equipment, devices, software, or hardware.

(e) "Device" includes, but is not limited to, an electronic, magnetic, electrochemical, biochemical, hydraulic, optical, or organic object that performs input, output, or storage functions by the manipulation of electronic, magnetic, or other impulses.

(f) "Harmful to minors" means that term as it is defined in section 4 of 1978 PA 33, MCL 722.674.

(g) "Internet" means that term as defined in section 230 of title II of the communications act of 1934, chapter 652, 110 Stat. 137, 47 U.S.C. 230.

(h) "Library" includes a library that is established by the state; a county, city, township, village, school district, or other local unit of government or authority or combination of local units of governments and authorities; a community college district; a college or university; or any private library open to the public.

(i) "Library record" means a document, record, or other method of storing information retained by a library that contains information that personally identifies a library patron, including the patron's name, address, or telephone number, or that identifies a person as having requested or obtained specific materials from a library. Library record does not include nonidentifying material that may be retained for the purpose of studying or evaluating the circulation of library materials in general.

(j) "Minor" means an individual who is less than 18 years of age.

(k) "Obscene" means that term as it is defined in section 2 of 1984 PA 343, MCL 752.362.

(l) "Sexually explicit matter" means that term as it is defined in section 3 of 1978 PA 33, MCL 722.673.

(m) "Terminal" means a device used to access the internet or a computer, computer program, computer network, or computer system.

Section 397-603. Library record not subject to disclosure requirements; release or disclosure of library record without consent prohibited; exception; procedure and form of written consent; hearing.

Sec. 3. (1) Except as provided in subsection(2), a library record is not subject to the disclosure requirements of the freedom of information act, Act No. 442 of the Public Acts of 1976, being sections 15.231 to 15.246 of the Michigan Compiled Laws.

(2) Unless ordered by a court after giving the affected library notice of the request and an opportunity to be heard on the request, a library or an employee or agent of a library shall not release or disclose a library record or portion of a library record to a person without the written consent of the person liable for payment for or return of the materials identified in that library record.

(3) The procedure and form of giving written consent described in subsection (2) may be determined by the library.

(4) A library may appear and be represented by counsel at a hearing described in subsection (2).

Section 397-604. Improper disclosure; liability, civil action, damages, attorney fees, costs.

Sec. 4. A library or an agent or employee of a library which violates section 3 shall be liable to the person identified in a record that is improperly released or disclosed. The person identified may bring a civil action for actual damages or $250.00, whichever is greater; reasonable attorney fees; and the costs of bringing the action.

Section 397-605. Selection of library materials, exceptions; regulation of use.

Sec. 5. (1) Except as otherwise provided by statute or by a regulation adopted by the governing body of the library, the selection of library materials for inclusion in a library's collection shall be determined only by an employee of the library.

(2) Except as otherwise provided by law or by a regulation adopted by the governing body of the library, the use of library materials shall be determined only by an employee of the library.

Section 397-606. Restriction of internet access to minors; immunity from liability; exceptions.

Sec. 6. (1) If a library offers use of the internet or a computer, computer program, computer network, or computer system to the public, the governing body of that library shall adopt and require enforcement of a policy that restricts access to minors by providing the use of the internet or a computer, computer program, computer network, or computer system in 1 of the following ways :

(a) Both of the following:

(i) By making available, to individuals of any age, 1 or more terminals that are restricted from receiving obscene matter or sexually explicit matter that is harmful to minors.

(ii) By reserving, to individuals 18 years of age or older or minors who are accompanied by their parent or guardian, 1 or more terminals that are not restricted from receiving any material.

(b) By utilizing a system or method that is designed to prevent a minor from viewing obscene matter or sexually explicit matter that is harmful to minors.

(2) A governing body of a library, member of a governing body of a library, library, or an agent or employee of a governing body of a library or library, is immune from liability in a civil action as provided in section 7 of the revised judicature act of 1961, 1961 PA 236, MCL 691.1407.

(3) This section does not apply to a library established by a community college district, a college or university, or a private library open to the public.



Minnesota State Legislature
Minnesota Statutes
Section 13-40. Library and historical data.
Subdivision 1. Records subject to this chapter.

(a) For purposes of this section, "historical records repository" means an archives or manuscript repository operated by any state agency, statewide system, or political subdivision whose purpose is to collect and maintain data to further the history of a geographic or subject area. The term does not include the state archives as defined in section 138.17, subdivision 1, clause (5).
(b) Data collected, maintained, used, or disseminated by a library or historical records repository operated by any state agency, political subdivision, or statewide system shall be administered in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.

Subdivision 2. Private data; library borrowers.

(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b), the following data maintained by a library are private data on individuals and may not be disclosed for other than library purposes except pursuant to a court order:

(1) data that link a library patron's name with materials requested or borrowed by the patron or that link a patron's name with a specific subject about which the patron has requested information or materials; or (2) data in applications for borrower cards, other than the name of the borrower.

(b) A library may release reserved materials to a family member or other person who resides with a library patron and who is picking up the material on behalf of the patron. A patron may request that reserved materials be released only to the patron.

Subd. 3. Nongovernmental data. Data held in the custody of a historical records repository that were not originally created, received, maintained, or disseminated by a state agency, statewide system, or political subdivision are not government data. These data are accessible to the public unless:

(1) the data are contributed by private persons under an agreement that restricts access, to the extent of any lawful limitation; or

(2) access would significantly endanger the physical or organizational integrity of the data.

History:

1980 c 603 s 21; 1981 c 311 s 39; 1982 c 545 s 6,24; 1991 c 319 s 3; 1992 c 499 art 10 s 1; 1996 c 440 art 1 s 7; 2007 c 129 s 20,21


Mississippi Legislature
Mississippi Code of 1972
Section 39-3-365. Confidentiality of library user records.

Records maintained by any library funded in whole or in part by public funds, which contain information relating to the identity of a library user, relative to the user's use of books or other materials at the library, shall be confidential. Such records may only be released with the express written permission of the respective library user or as the result of a court order.

Section 39-3-367. Release and use of aggregate statistics.

Aggregate statistics shown from registration and circulation records, with all personal identification removed, may be released or used by a library for research, planning and reporting purposes.

Section 39-3-369. Use of records for purpose of collecting overdue materials and fines.

No provision of this act shall be construed to prohibit any library, or any business operating jointly with a library, from disclosing information for the purpose of collecting overdue books, documents, films or other items or materials owned or otherwise belonging to such library. No provision of this act shall be construed to prohibit or hinder any such library or business office from collecting fines on such overdue books, documents, films or other items or materials.

Sources: Laws, 1992, ch. 521, sec. 3, eff from and after July 1, 1992.


Missouri General Assembly
Missouri Revised Statutes
Section 182-815. Disclosure of library records, definitions.

As used in this section and section 182-817, the following terms shall mean:

(1) "Library", any library established by the state or any political subdivision of the state, or combination thereof, by any community college district, or by any college or university, and any private library open to the public;
(2) "Library material", any book, document, film, record, art work, or other library property which a patron may use, borrow or request;
(3) "Library record", any document, record, or other method of storing information retained, received or generated by a library that identifies a person or persons as having requested, used, or borrowed library material, and all other records identifying the names of library users. The term "library record" does not include nonidentifying material that may be retained for the purpose of studying or evaluating the circulation of library material in general.


Section 182-817. Disclosure of library records not required--exceptions.

Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law to the contrary, no library or employee or agent of a library shall be required to release or disclose a library record or portion of a library record to any person or persons except:

(1) In response to a written request of the person identified in that record, according to procedures and forms giving written consent as determined by the library; or
(2) In response to an order issued by a court of competent jurisdiction upon a finding that the disclosure of such record is necessary to protect the public safety or to prosecute a crime.

(L. 1986 H.B. 1372, Sec. 1 & 2)



Montana Legislature
Montana Code
Section 22-1-1101. Short title.

This part may be cited as the "Montana Library Records Confidentiality Act".

Section 22-1-1102. Definitions.

As used in 22-1-1103, the following definitions apply:

(1) "Library" means a library that is established by the state, a county, city, town, school district, or a combination of those units of government, a college or university, or any private library open to the public.
(2) "Library records" means any document, record, or any other method of storing information retained, received, or generated by a library that identifies a person as having requested, used, or borrowed library material or other records identifying the names or other personal identifiers of library users. Library records does not include nonidentifying material that may be retained for the purpose of studying or evaluating the circulation of library materials in general or records that are not retained or retrieved by personal identifier.

Section 22-1-1103. Nondisclosure of library records.

(1) No person may release or disclose a library record or portion of a library record to any person except in response to:

(a) a written request of the person identified in that record, according to procedures and forms giving written consent as determined by the library; or
(b) an order issued by a court of competent jurisdiction, upon a finding that the disclosure of such record is necessary because the merits of public disclosure clearly exceed the demand for individual privacy.

(2) A library is not prevented from publishing or making available to the public reasonable statistical reports regarding library registration and book circulation if those reports are presented so that no individual is identified therein.
(3) Library records may be disclosed to the extent necessary to return overdue or stolen materials or collect fines.

Section 22-1-1111. Penalty.

Any person who violates 22-1-1103 is guilty of a misdemeanor and is liable to the person identified in a record that is improperly released or disclosed. The person identified may bring a civil action for actual damages or $100, whichever is greater. Reasonable attorney fees and the costs of bringing the action may be awarded to the prevailing party.

History: En. Sec. 1-3, 6 Ch. 476, L. 1985.


Nebraska Legislature
Nebraska Revised Statutes
Section 84-712.05. Records which may be withheld from the public; enumerated.

The following records, unless publicly disclosed in an open court, open administrative proceeding, or open meeting or disclosed by a public entity pursuant to its duties, may be withheld from the public by the lawful custodian of the records:

(1) Personal information in records regarding a student, prospective student, or former student of any educational institution or exempt school that has effectuated an election not to meet state approval or accreditation requirements pursuant to section 79-1601 when such records are maintained by and in the possession of a public entity, other than routine directory information specified and made public consistent with 20 U.S.C. 1232g, as such section existed on January 1, 2003;

.....

(11) Records or portions of records kept by a publicly funded library which, when examined with or without other records, reveal the identity of any library patron using the library's materials or services;


Nevada Legislature
Nevada Revised Statutes
Section 239-013. Confidentiality of records of library which identify user with property used.

Any records of a public library or other library which contain the identity of a user and the books, documents, films, recordings or other property of the library which he used are confidential and not public books or records within the meaning of NRS 239-010. Such records may be disclosed only in response to an order issued by a court upon a finding that the disclosure of such records is necessary to protect the public safety or to prosecute a crime.


New Hampshire General Court
New Hampshire Revised Statutes
33-A:3-a Disposition and Retention Schedule.
The municipal records identified below shall be retained, at a minimum, as follows:

LXVI. Library:
(a) Registration cards: current year plus one year.
(b) User records: not retained; confidential pursuant to RSA 201-D:11.

Section 91-A:5. Exemptions.
The records of the following bodies are exempted from the provisions of this chapter:

I. Grand and petit juries.
II. Parole and pardon boards.
III. Personal school records of pupils.
IV. Records pertaining to internal personnel practices; confidential, commercial, or financial information; test questions, scoring keys, and other examination data used to administer a licensing examination, examination for employment, or academic examinations; and personnel, medical, welfare, library user, videotape sale or rental, and other files whose disclosure would constitute invasion of privacy. Without otherwise compromising the confidentiality of the files, nothing in this paragraph shall prohibit a body or agency from releasing information relative to health or safety from investigative files on a limited basis to persons whose health or safety may be affected.
V. Teacher certification records, both hard copies and computer files, in the department of education, provided that the department shall make available teacher certification status information.
VI. Records pertaining to matters relating to the preparation for and the carrying out of all emergency functions, including training to carry out such functions, developed by local or state safety officials that are directly intended to thwart a deliberate act that is intended to result in widespread or severe damage to property or widespread injury or loss of life.

Section 201-D:11. Library User Records; Confidentiality.

I. Library records which contain the names or other personal identifying information regarding the users of public or other than public libraries shall be confidential and shall not be disclosed except as provided in paragraph II. Such records include, but are not limited to, library, information system, and archival records related to the circulation and use of library materials or services, including records of materials that have been viewed or stored in electronic form.

II. Records described in paragraph I may be disclosed to the extent necessary for the proper operation of such libraries and shall be disclosed upon request by or consent of the user or pursuant to subpoena, court order, or where otherwise required by statute.

III. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit any library from releasing statistical information and other data regarding the circulation or use of library materials provided, however, that the identity of the users of such library materials shall be considered confidential and shall not be disclosed to the general public except as provided in paragraph II.

Source. 1989, 184:3, eff. July 21, 1989. 2009, 273:1, eff. July 29, 2009.


New Jersey Legislature
New Jersey Statutes
Section 18A:73-43.1. "Library," library record" defined.

For the purposes of this act:

a. "Library" means a library maintained by any State or local governmental agency, school, college, or industrial, commercial or other special group, association or agency, whether public or private.
b. "Library record" means any document or record, however maintained, the primary purpose of which is to provide for control of the circulation or other public use of library materials.

Section 18A:73-43.2. Confidentiality; exceptions.

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 subpena issued by a court or court order.

L. 1985, c. 172, s. 1-2, eff. May 31, 1985.


New Mexico Legislature
New Mexico Statutes
Section 18-9-1. Short title.

This act [18-9-1 to 18-9-6 NMSA 1978] may be cited as the "Library Privacy Act".

Section 18-9-2. Purpose.

The purpose of the Library Privacy Act [18-9-1 to 18-9-6 NMSA 1978] is to preserve the intellectual freedom guaranteed by Sections 4 and 17 of Article 2 of the constitution of New Mexico by providing privacy for users of the public libraries of the state with respect to the library materials that they wish to use.

Section 18-9-3. Definitions.

As used in the Library Privacy Act [18-9-1 to 18-9-6 NMSA 1978]:

A. "library" includes any library receiving public funds, any library that is a state agency and any library established by the state, an instrumentality of the state, a local government, district or authority, whether or not that library is regularly open to the public; and
B. "patron record" means any document, record or other method of storing information retained by a library that identifies, or when combined with other available information identifies, a person as a patron of the library or that indicates use or request of materials from the library. "Patron record" includes patron registration information and circulation information that identifies specific patrons.


Section 18-9-4. Release of patron records prohibited.

Patron records shall not be disclosed or released to any person not a member of the library staff in the performance of his duties, except upon written consent of the person identified in the record, or except upon court order issued to the library. The library shall have the right to be represented by counsel at any hearing on disclosure or release of its patron records.

Section 18-9-5. Exceptions.

The prohibition on the release or disclosure of patron records in Section 4 [18-9-4 NMSA 1978] of the Library Privacy Act shall not apply to overdue notices or to the release or disclosure by school libraries to the legal guardian of the patron records of unemancipated minors or legally incapacitated persons.

Section 18-9-6. Violations; civil liability.

Any person who violates Section 4 [18-9-4 NMSA 1978] of the Library Privacy Act shall be subject to civil liability to the person identified in the released records for damages and costs of the action as determined by the court.



New York State Assembly
New York State Senate
New York State Statutes
Section 4509. Library [fig 1] records.

Library records, [fig 1] which contain names or other personally identifying details regarding the users of public, free association, school, college and university libraries and library systems of this state, including but not limited to records related to the circulation of library materials, computer database searches, interlibrary loan transactions, reference queries, requests for photocopies of library materials, title reserve requests, or the use of audio-visual materials, films or records, shall be confidential and shall not be disclosed except that such records may be disclosed to the extent necessary for the proper operation of such library and shall be disclosed upon request or consent of the user or pursuant to subpoena, court order or where otherwise required by statute.



North Carolina General Assembly
North Carolina General Statutes
Section 125-18. Definitions.

As used in this Article, unless the context requires otherwise:

(1) "Library" means a library established by the State; a county, city, township, village, school district, or other local unit of government or authority or combination of local units of governments and authorities; community college or university; or any private library open to the public.

(2) "Library record" means a document, record, or other method of storing information retained by a library that identifies a person as having requested or obtained specific information or materials from a library. "Library record" does not include nonidentifying material that may be retained for the purpose of studying or evaluating the circulation of library materials in general.

Section 125-19. Confidentiality of library user records.

(a) Disclosure. - A library shall not disclose any library record that identifies a person as having requested or obtained specific materials, information, or services, or as otherwise having used the library, except as provided for in subsection (b).

(b) Exceptions. - Library records may be disclosed in the following instances:
(1) When necessary for the reasonable operation of the library;
(2) Upon written consent of the user; or
(3) Pursuant to subpoena, court order, or where otherwise required by law.

(1985, c. 486, s.2.)


North Dakota Legislative Branch
North Dakota Century Code
Section 40-38-12. Library records -- Open records exception.

Any record maintained or received by a library receiving public funds, which provides a library patron's name or information sufficient to identify a patron together with the subject about which the patron requested information, is considered private and is excepted from the public records disclosure requirements of section 44-04-18. These records may be released when required pursuant to a court order or a subpoena.


Introduced: HB 1396 (January 17, 2011)
Sponsors: Representatives Delmore, Dahl, DeKrey, Hawken & Senators Flakoll, Schneider
Status: Signed by Governor (4/4/2011)

A BILL for an Act to create and enact a new section to chapter 44-04 of the North Dakota Century Code, relating to exempting certain library, archive, and museum collections from open records requirements.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF NORTH DAKOTA:

SECTION 1. A new section to chapter 44-04 of the North Dakota Century Code is created and enacted as follows:

Library, archive, and museum collections - Exempt records .

A public library, archive, or museum may designate a donated record as an exempt record if the donor of the record requests as a condition of the donation that the record not be released to the public for a specific amount of time, which may not exceed twenty years beyond the death of the donor.


For questions or comments regarding this page, please contact Paul Neuhaus, Santa Clara University, at pneuhaus@scu.edu.
Page created December, 2002.
Last updated March 17, 2011.