In order to fulfill its mission, The Springfield City Library knows that library users must feel confident that their personal privacy will be protected. The Springfield City Library complies fully with the General Laws of Massachusetts related to the privacy of library use:
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… General Laws of Massachusetts Chapter 78, Section 7
Confidentiality applies to information sought or received and materials consulted or borrowed. It includes database search records, reference interviews, circulation registration and records, interlibrary loan transactions, program registration records, and all other personally identifiable uses of library materials, facilities, or services.
Library staff may not use patron library accounts or information retrieval records for personal use and may not share this information with other individuals for personal use.
Circulation, registration, and information retrieval records may not be disclosed except to:
- Library personnel within the scope of their library duties.
- Persons authorized by the cardholder and identified as “Designated Borrowers.”
- Representatives of any local, state, or federal government, with a subpoena or search warrant authorized under the authority of federal, state, or local law relating to civil, criminal, or investigative power. If the Library is served with any such subpoena or search warrant, the Library Director will consult with the City’s Law Department to determine if the subpoena or search warrant is in proper form and if there is a valid basis for its issuance before providing confidential information.
The only exception to this policy is in the case of cardholders seventeen years old and younger who have one or more billed items on their library card account. In this circumstance, a parent or legal guardian, upon supplying proper identification, will be given information about titles that are checked out on the minor’s library card, fines accrued, or billed items. If library staff are unable to confirm the identity of the parent or guardian, no confidential information will be supplied.
Springfield City Library Policy and Procedures Regarding Retention of Confidential Information
- Circulation Records: Library materials are circulated via the C/WMARS automation system. The circulation software tracks materials currently checked out, automatically erasing a reader’s borrowing record once a book is returned. Fines paid information is retained in the patron’s record for 3-6 months. Information on the last person to have borrowed an item is retained in the item record until another patron checks out the item.
- Searches of the online catalog: The Library does not require personal information to use the online catalog. Catalog searches are conducted via the C/WMARS automation software. Once a search is completed, a patron may clear their own search history. The search history is also erased automatically whenever the web browser is closed. The software does not retain a copy of any search.
- Electronic Databases and the Internet: Library patrons should be aware that the Springfield City Library and other Massachusetts library organizations license commercial databases from a variety of vendors. The Library will make every effort to restrict electronic database vendors from collecting and using identifying personal information of library users, however it provides no guarantee that personal information will not be shared with third parties.
- Interlibrary Loan Records: Patrons may borrow items not owned by the Springfield City Library from other libraries within Massachusetts and nationally. The Springfield City Library tracks items currently being requested or borrowed and generates a paper record with patron information. Once the materials are returned and any lost item bills or all appropriate fines and/or replacement fees are paid, the paper record is destroyed.
- Reference Interviews: A reference interview is when a patron asks a library staff member for information. The staff member interviews the patron in order to fully understand the question. Staff do not discuss patron inquiries with others except when consulting another library worker on a complex question. If a patron name, telephone number, or other identifiable information is noted, the information is destroyed as soon as the patron’s inquiry is completed.
- Security Cameras: Security cameras are installed throughout the library system to assist security personnel in monitoring and quickly responding to situations affecting the health and safety of library visitors and staff. Security camera images are only made available to law enforcement through a legal subpoena or warrant. If the Library is served with any such subpoena or search warrant, the Library Director will consult with the city Law Department to determine if the subpoena or search warrant is in proper form and if there is a valid basis for its issuance before providing confidential information.
Approved by the Springfield Board of Library Commissioners on December 2, 2015
Amended and approved by the Springfield Board of Library Commissioners on June 2, 2021