USA Patriot Act of 2001
The tragic events of September 11, 2001 triggered the signing of new federal legislation known as the USA Patriot Act. This aids federal law enforcement in its quest to prevent and stamp out terrorism and expands the powers of federal law enforcement agencies investigating cases of foreign intelligence and international terrorism.
The full title of the law is: Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001.
Confidentiality of Library Records
In accordance with the Mass. General Laws Chapter 4 Section 26 and Chapter 78 Section 7, circulation and registration records identifying the names of library users, addresses, and telephone numbers and the materials borrowed are not part of the public record. Library records are confidential and are protected.
North Adams Public Library Policy
The North Adams Public Library strives to create a library environment that is:
- Crime free
- A safe place
- A place for learning and pursuit of knowledge and information on any topic
- A place where patrons can ask any question and discuss any topic
The library will do its utmost to uphold the privacy and confidentiality of patrons’ free access to information. The library follows the laws and library policies to control behavior that involves public safety or criminal behavior.
Does the “Patriot Act” Change Things?
Yes, and this is a dilemma for the North Adams Public Library. The library has the responsibility of protecting the privacy of its patrons while responding to national security concerns.
Should library records be requested under the USA Patriot Act, they may only be reported to the appropriate higher authority within the library. Under the USA PATRIOT Act, failure to comply with the search warrant, or of other applicable terms of those acts, is a felony.
To What Information Does the Patriot Act Apply?
· Name, address, city, state, zip code and e-mail address
· Home and/or work phone number
· Library card number
· Date of birth, gender
· Special notes and/or comments
· Preferences to receive or not receive special event notifications
- Database Search Records
- Circulation Records
- Computer Use Records
- Inter-Library Loan Records
- Reference Interviews
· Name of school and grade in school
· Other communications between the patron and the library.
The NAPL Procedures Regarding Information Access and Confidentiality
The NAPL does not retain records of individual user activity except those required for the operation of the library. The following are specific examples of library records:
Database Search Records: These records refer to the searches of the collection a patron may conduct on the online Public Access Computer terminal (PAC). These searches are conducted by utilizing the library’s automated circulation and collection management system, C/W MARS and Evergreen open source software. Once a search has been conducted, the software does not retain a copy of the search, and therefore no record of the search will exist.
Circulation Records: Patron material is circulated via the C/W MARS system. The circulation software, which is housed and maintained at the central site in Worcester, MA, tracks items checked out to the current borrower and also retains the name of the patron to whom the item was checked out last. When the item is returned the link to the previous borrower is severed so long as all fines are paid. Unresolved accounts–i.e. items lost and unpaid for– will stay linked to the patron until the account is resolved.
Computer Use Records: The library system is equipped with HP computers and Windows 7 Professional. Currently, the City of North Adams IT Department maintains the computer lab equipment and on-line catalogs. System upgrades are downloaded and histories are erased in-house on monthly schedule. Patrons are advised to delete their sensitive matter before logging off.
System Wide Holds & Patron Placed Holds: When a hold is placed on a patron’s account, by the patron or a library staff member, the system creates a link to that item. No long-term record of the hold is retained by C/WMARS beyond the point of the circulation transaction unless requested by the patron in their personal preferences.
True Interlibrary Loan Records: These transactions are for requested items that do not appear in the C/W MARS or Commonwealth Catalogs. The NAPL tracks these items until they are returned to the owning library then all paper records are destroyed.
Reference Interviews: Notes may be taken during an interview to aid in organizing a search, and patron information, name and phone number, may be needed to allow return calls. Any patron information is destroyed as soon as the requested information has been delivered.
Procedures for Complying with Law Enforcement
The NAPL will comply with law enforcement when supplied with a legal subpoena or warrant:
If staff are approached by anyone alleging to be a law enforcement official requesting information, do not disclose to that individual any information. Immediately contact the Library Director. If the Library Director is not available contact the Assistant Director.
The Library Director or Assistant Director will ask to see official identification and will photocopy the ID. If the official presents a subpoena, the Library Director will immediately contact the city solicitor for review of the document’s legal sufficiency. If staff are presented with a warrant, do not interfere with the search and seizure. Contact the Library Director as soon as possible.
Emergency Disclosures of Communication
If in the normal course of business, the library staff observes what can be construed to be a threat to life or limb, they are to contact law enforcement immediately. They should contact the Library Director or Assistant Director if the Director is not available. An Incident Report should be completed.