Amending State Library Confidentiality Laws To
Extend Privacy Protections to User Data Held or
Managed by Vendors
Deputy Director, Office for Intellectual Freedom
firstname.lastname@example.org / @privacyala
Library records, which contain names or other personally
identifying details regarding the users of public, free
association, school, college and university libraries and library
systems of this state, including but not limited to records
related to the circulation of library materials, computer
database searches, interlibrary loan transactions, reference
queries, requests for photocopies of library materials, title
reserve requests, or the use of audio-visual materials, films or
records, shall be confidential and shall not be disclosed except
that such records may be disclosed to the extent necessary for
the proper operation of such library and shall be disclosed
upon request or consent of the user or pursuant to subpoena,
court order or where otherwise required by statute.
~~New York CLS CPLR § 4509
In the Matter of Quad/Graphics, Inc. v. Southern Adirondack Library System, 174 Misc.
2d 291, 664 N.Y.S.2d 225 (1997)
(75 ILCS 70/) Illinois Library Records Confidentiality Act.
(75 ILCS 70/1) (from Ch. 81, par. 1201)
Sec. 1. (a) The registration and circulation records of a library are confidential information. No person shall
publish or make any information contained in such records available to the public unless:
(1) required to do so under a court order; or
(2) the information is requested by a sworn law enforcement officer who represents that it is impractical to
secure a court order as a result of an emergency where the law enforcement officer has probable cause to
believe that there is an imminent danger of physical harm. The information requested must be limited to
identifying a suspect, witness, or victim of a crime. The information requested without a court order may
not include the disclosure of registration or circulation records that would indicate materials borrowed,
resources reviewed, or services used at the library. If requested to do so by the library, the requesting law
enforcement officer must sign a form acknowledging the receipt of the information. A library providing the
information may seek subsequent judicial review to assess compliance with this Section.
This subsection shall not alter any right to challenge the use or dissemination of patron information that is
otherwise permitted by law.
(b) This Section does not prevent a library from publishing or making available to the public reasonable
statistical reports regarding library registration and book circulation where those reports are presented so
that no individual is identified therein.
(b-5) Nothing in this Section shall be construed as a privacy violation or a breach of confidentiality if a library
provides information to a law enforcement officer under item (2) of subsection (a).
(c) For the purpose of this Section, (i) "library" means any public library or library of an educational, historical
or eleemosynary institution, organization or society; (ii) "registration records" includes any information a
library requires a person to provide in order for that person to become eligible to borrow books and other
materials and (iii) "circulation records" includes all information identifying the individual borrowing
particular books or materials.
(Source: P.A. 95-40, eff. 1-1-08.)
In the absence of user consent or a court order....
California Government Code Section 6267
All patron use records of any library which is in whole or in part
supported by public funds shall remain confidential and shall not
be disclosed by a public agency, or private actor that maintains
or stores patron use records on behalf of a public agency, to any
person, local agency, or state agency except as follows:
a) By a person acting within the scope of his or her duties within
the administration of the library.
b) By a person authorized, in writing, by the individual to whom
the records pertain, to inspect the records.
c) By order of the appropriate superior court.
Missouri Rev. Statutes 182.815: Disclosure of library records, definitions.
As used in this section and section 182.817, the following terms shall mean:
(1) "Digital resource or material", any E-book, digital periodical, digital thesis, digital
dissertation, digital report, application, website, database, or other data available in digital
format from a library for display on a computer screen or handheld device
(2) “E-book", any book composed or converted to digital format for display on a computer
screen or handheld device;
(3) "Library", any library established by the state or any political subdivision of the state,
or combination thereof, by any community college district, or by any college or
university, and any private library open to the public;
(4) "Library material", any book, E-book, digital resource or material, document, film,
record, art work, or other library property which a patron may use, borrow or request
(5) "Library record", any document, record, or other method of storing information
retained, received or generated by a library that identifies a person or persons as
having requested, used, or borrowed library material, and all other records
identifying the names of library users. The term "library record" does not include
nonidentifying material that may be retained for the purpose of studying or
evaluating the circulation of library materials in studying or evaluating the circulation
of library material in general
Missouri Rev. Statutes 182.817: Disclosure of library records not required—exceptions
1. Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law to the contrary, no library or employee or
agent of a library, or third party contracted by a library that receives, transmits, maintains, or
stores library records shall release or disclose a library record or portion of a library record to
any person or persons except:
(1) In response to a written request of the person identified in that record, according to
procedures and forms giving written consent as determined by the library; or
(2) In response to an order issued by a court of competent jurisdiction upon a finding
that the disclosure of such record is necessary to protect the public safety or to
prosecute a crime.
2. Any person whose privacy is compromised as a result of an alleged violation of this
section may file a written complaint within one hundred eighty days of the alleged violation
with the office of the attorney general describing the facts surrounding the alleged violation.
Such person may additionally bring a private civil action in the circuit court of the county in
which the library is located to recover damages. The court may, in its discretion, award
punitive damages and may award to the prevailing party attorney's fees, based on the
amount of time reasonably expended, and may provide such equitable relief as it deems
necessary or proper.
3. Upon receipt of a complaint filed in accordance with subsection 2 of this section, the
attorney general shall review each complaint and may initiate legal action if deemed