Privacy is essential to the exercise of free speech, free thought, and free association. The Norman Williams Public Library believes the only way to assure the right to open inquiry is by assuring that the subject of one’s interest is not subject to the scrutiny of others. Personally identifiable information about users is confidential and the library keeps that information private and confidential on their behalf.
Our commitment to your privacy and confidentiality has deep roots not only in law but also in the ethics and practices of librarianship. In accordance with the American Library Association’s Code of Ethics and our practice:
“We protect each library user’s right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired, or transmitted.”
In accordance with Vermont Statutes, 22 VSA §§171-173. The Norman Williams Public Library and its Board of Trustees have adopted the following policy regarding the confidentiality of patron information and records.
1. Notice & Openness
We affirm that our library users have the right of “notice”—to be informed about the policies governing the amount and retention of personally identifiable information, and about why that information is necessary for the provision of library services. We publicly acknowledge the privacy and information gathering policies of this library. Whenever policies change, notice of those changes is disseminated to our users. In all cases we avoid creating unnecessary records, we avoid retaining records not needed for the fulfillment of the operations of the library, and we do not engage in practices that might place information on public view.
Information we may gather and retain about current and valid library users include the:
- Electronic Access Information
- User Registration Information
- Circulation Information
- Information Required to Provide Library Services
2. Choice & Consent
This policy explains our information practices and the choices you can make about the way the library collects and uses your information. We will not collect or retain your private and personally identifiable information without your consent. Further, if you consent to give us your personally identifiable information, we will keep it confidential and will not sell, license or disclose personal information to any third party without your consent, unless we are compelled to comply with a court order.
If you wish to receive borrowing privileges, we must obtain certain information about you in order to provide you with a library account. That may include but not be limited to: name, address, telephone number and town/city of residence. When using our library’s internet services, you will be asked to provide your name, library card and/or library PIN. Remote access of some of our library reference databases will require your library card’s barcode and/or a password.
You have the option of providing us with your e-mail address for the purpose of notifying you about your library account. You may request that we remove your e-mail address from your record at any time.
We never use or share the personally identifiable information provided to us in ways unrelated to the ones described above, unless compelled to do so under 22 V.S.A. § 172 of Vermont law or to comply with a court order. For the protection of our patrons, parents seeking records of their minor child, under age 16, may be asked to provide proof of their child’s age as well as evidence they are the custodial parent.
3. Access by Users
Individuals who use library services that require the function and process of personally identifiable information are entitled to view and/or update their information. You may view or update your personal information in person. You may be asked to provide some sort of verification or identification card to ensure verification of identity. We do not allow transfer of library account privileges.
The purpose of accessing and updating your personally identifiable information is to ensure that library operations can function properly. Such functions may include notification of overdue items, recalls, reminders, etc. The library will explain the process of accessing or updating your information so that all personally identifiable information is accurate and up to date.
4. Data Integrity & Security
Data Integrity: The data we collect and maintain at the library must be accurate and secure. We take reasonable steps to assure data integrity providing our users access to your own personally identifiable data; updating data whenever possible and destroying untimely data or converting it to anonymous form.
Data Retention : We protect personally identifiable information from unauthorized disclosure once it is no longer needed to manage library services. Information that is regularly purged or shredded includes personally identifiable information on library resource use, material circulation history, internet use and logs.
Tracking Users : We delete links between patron records and materials borrowed as soon as the original purpose for data collection has been satisfied. We permit in-house access to information in all formats without creating a data trail. Our library has invested in appropriate technology to protect the security of any personally identifiable information while it is in the library’s custody, and we ensure that aggregate, summary data is stripped of personally identifiable information. We do not ask library visitors or web site users to identify themselves or reveal any personal information unless they are borrowing materials, requesting special services, registering for programs or classes, or making remote use from outside the library of those portions of the library’s web site restricted to registered borrowers under license agreements or other special arrangements. We discourage users from choosing passwords or PINs that could reveal their identity, including social security numbers. We regularly remove cookies, web history, cached files, or other computer and Internet use records and other software code that is placed on our computers or networks.
Third Party Security : We ensure that our library’s contracts, licenses, and offsite computer service arrangements reflect our policies and legal obligations concerning user privacy and confidentiality. When connecting to licensed databases outside the library, we release only information that authenticates users as “members of our community.” Nevertheless, we advise users of the limits to library privacy protection when accessing remote sites.
Cookies : Users of networked computers will need to enable cookies in order to access a number of resources available through the library. A cookie is a small file sent to the browser by a web site each time that site is visited. Cookies are stored on the user’s computer and can potentially transmit personal information. Cookies are often used to remember information about preferences and pages visited. You can refuse to accept cookies, can disable cookies, and remove cookies from your hard drive. We will not share cookies information with external third parties.
Security Measures : Our security measures involve both managerial and technical policies and procedures to protect against loss and the unauthorized access, destruction, use, or disclosure of the data. Our managerial measures include internal organizational procedures that limit access to data and ensure that those individuals with access do not utilize the data for unauthorized purposes. Our technical security measures to prevent unauthorized access include encryption in the transmission and storage of data; limits on access through use of passwords; and storage of data on secure servers or computers that are inaccessible from a modem or network connection.
Staff access to personal data: We permit only authorized individuals with assigned confidential passwords to access personal data stored in the Library’s computer system for the purpose of performing library work. We will not disclose any personal data we collect from you to any other party except where required by law or to fulfill an individual user’s service request. The Library does not sell or lease users’ personal information to companies, universities, or individuals.
Children : Parents should remind their children to ask their permission before providing personal information to any website or purchasing any products or services online. The Library urges all parents to participate in their children’s exploration of the internet and to teach them about protecting their personal information while online. For further information, see A Safety Net for the Internet: A Parent’s Guide available via the Internet or by request to the library.
5. Enforcement & Redress
The legal custodian of all records for this library is the Library Director. As the custodian, all requests for the production of records must be directed there. It is the Library Director’s (or a designated representative in the Director’s absence) responsibility to respond to requests from law enforcement officers. We will not make library records available to any agency of state, federal, or local government unless a subpoena, warrant, court order or other investigatory document is issued by a court of competent jurisdiction that shows good cause and is in proper form. We have trained all library staff and volunteers to refer any law enforcement inquiries to library administrators. Details are attached and an integral part of this policy.