Patron Privacy, Confidentiality, and Records Policy

Library patrons have a right to privacy and confidentiality. The duPont-Ball Library faculty, staff, and student employees will protect those rights and will not infringe on the privacy of individuals to use Library materials nor will they divulge information contained in patron records, including circulation records, reserve reading records, and interlibrary loan records. Library faculty, staff, and student employees should not pass along private information, including information-seeking behavior of patrons, to other library employees unless necessary to provide service to that patron.

The ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee states:

In a library, the right to privacy is the right to open inquiry without having the subject of one’s interest examined or scrutinized by others. Confidentiality exists when a library is in possession of personally identifiable information (i.e. circulation records…) about users and keeps that information private on their behalf. Confidentiality is a library’s responsibility. This responsibility is assumed when library procedures create records such as… registration for equipment or facilities, circulation records, what Web sites were visited, reserve notices, or research notes.

It is inevitable that library staff will recognize users. It is also necessary that staff be aware of activity and behavior inside the library to ensure that users’ needs are met and for security purposes. This knowledge should not be put to any purpose other than service to library users.

Protecting privacy in the library setting ensures open inquiry without fear of having one’s interests observed by others.

What to do if Patron Information is Requested

If patron information of any kind is requested by an individual, all Library faculty, staff members, and student employees must deny the request. If the person is persistent, refer them to the Library Dean or Associate Dean.

If patron information of any kind is requested by a law enforcement or government official, refer them to the Library Dean or Associate Dean. The Dean or Associate Dean will contact the President’s Office, and the President’s Office staff will contact the University’s Legal Counsel. If neither the Library Dean nor the Associate Dean is available, contact the President’s Office to confer with University Counsel. If the President’s Office is closed, contact Public Safety and have them contact the University Counsel immediately. All such requests must be accompanied by a warrant and University Counsel will advise on the actions to be taken in response to the warrant.
(President’s Office: 386-822-7250)

Patron Record Retention

Student Records: Student library records will be retained only as long as the student is enrolled at Stetson University unless pending items are attached to their record, such as overdue items or bills. Student records are purged every semester.

Faculty, Staff, and Dependent Records: Faculty and Staff records are periodically reviewed and individuals are purged from the databases if no longer employed by the University. Dependent records are also purged when an individual leaves the University. Records are retained on non-employees only if pending items are attached to their record, such as overdue items or bills.

Stetson University Library Associates (SULA) Records: SULA records are reviewed periodically and are purged if the membership period has expired. Records are retained on Library Associates only if pending items are attached to their record, such as overdue items or bills.

All patron records include only items currently checked out to the patron, and not items that have been previously borrowed and returned.

Interlibrary Loan (ILL) Records: ILL Records will be retained for the most recent two fiscal years in order to maintain statistics. Individuals requesting interlibrary loans will not be identified in any published statistics.

Other Resources

Florida Statutes: Library Registration and Circulation Records
(click on current year, then Title XVIII, then Chapter 257, then section 257.261)

American Library Association