Confidentiality of Library Records

Approved 4/02/07

A. The North Freedom Public Library recognizes that the reading activity and interests of library users are and should be private and protected under Wisconsin Statute 43.30 (1), (Enforcement date of April 23, 2004) which read as follows:


AN ACT to renumber and amend 43.30 (1); and to create 43.30 (1b) and 43.30 (4) of the statutes; relating to: the disclosure of public library records.

The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do enact as follows:

SECTION 1. 43.30 (1) of the statutes is renumbered 43.30 (1m) and amended to read: 43.30 (1m) Records of any library which is in whole or in part supported by public funds, including the records of a public library system, indicating the identity of any individual who borrows or uses the library’s documents or other materials, resources, or services may not be disclosed except by court order or to persons acting within the scope of their duties in the administration of the library or library system, to persons authorized by the individual to inspect such records, to custodial parents or guardians of children under the age of 18 as required under sub. (4), or to libraries as authorized under subs. (2) and (3).

SECTION 1m. 43.30 (1b) of the statutes is created to read: 43.30 (1b) In this section, “custodial parent” includes any parent other than a parent who has been denied periods of physical placement with a child under s. 767.24 (4).

SECTION 2. 43.30 (4) of the statutes is created to read: 43.30 (4) Upon the request of a custodial parent or guardian of a child who is under the age of 16, a library supported in whole or part by public funds shall disclose to the custodial parent or guardian all library records relating to the use of the library’s documents or other materials, resources, or services by that child.

SECTION 3. Initial applicability. (1) This act first applies to requests for disclosure that are received by a library on the effective date of this sub-section.

B. This is interpreted to include all records the library holds of patrons, reference questions, computer use and other documentations that would link an individual patron with particular services or materials.

1. Any library record inquiries by someone other than the cardholder will not be honored unless the inquiring patron has the permission from that cardholder. In most cases possession of the library card is considered consent by the cardholder to divulge library records.

2. Parents who inquire about the library records of their children under the age of 18 may be asked to present reasonable evidence that they are the “custodial parent”. Custodial parent in this policy has the following meaning:

i. If the mother and father are married, either is considered a custodial parent.

ii. If the mother and father are not married but each has periods of physical placement under a court order, either parent is a custodial parent.

iii. If the mother and father are not married and there is a court order awarding physical placement solely to one of the parents, that person is the custodial parent.

iv. If the parties are not married and there is no court order regarding physical custody, the parent with whom the child resides is the custodial parent.

C. It is the policy of the Library to contact legal counsel immediately and to resist the issuance or enforcement of any such process, order, or subpoena until such time as a proper showing of good cause has been made in a court of competent jurisdiction. Requests for registration and circulation information by law enforcement officials should be referred to the Director. The above Wisconsin Law is overridden by the USA PATRIOT Act. (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism). Among other provisions, the USA PATRIOT Act: 1) authorizes the FBI, or any police department deputized by the FBI, to obtain a search warrant for “any tangible thing” which can include books, records, papers, floppy disks, data tapes and computers with hard drives. It permits the FBI to compel immediate production of records from a library including circulation, borrower registration, and Internet usage records, without probable cause, (but with a search warrant), 2) prohibits a library employee who receives such a request under the law from talking with anyone, except an attorney about the request (search warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Act includes a “gag order”), 3) prohibits notification to a patron that his/her records have been requested, and 4) preempts and overrides all state laws declaring library records to be confidential.

Though we cannot guarantee complete privacy, the North Freedom Public Library uses several measures to maintain the privacy of our patrons according to library policies: 1) the library does not keep any records relating to patrons that contains personally identifiable information, which are unnecessary to the efficient operation of the library, 2) the library keeps records of Internet usage only long enough to get a circulation count, and 3) the library system will not save online catalog searches, previous fine free loans, or Interlibrary loan requests.

(Adapted from the Reedsburg Public Library Policies)

Noted & Quoted

"You see, I don't believe that libraries should be drab places where people sit in silence, and that's been the main reason for our policy of employing wild animals as librarians." --Monty Python