Privacy and Confidentiality of Patron Records
Medfield Public Library is dedicated to protecting the privacy and confidentiality of our patrons. Our policy complies with the Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 78, Section 7 (1994 edition): “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 as defined by clause Twenty sixth of section seven of chapter four. ” This policy extends to circulation records (borrowing records, registration records, reserves or fine records), interlibrary loan transactions, registration records, database search records and reference interviews. Except in cases involving the USA Patriot Act, no records can be made available to any inquiries, governmental or otherwise, unless a subpoena has been served by a court of competent jurisdiction and the library administration has consulted with legal counsel to determine if it is proper to release the requested information.
The only time that information has to be made immediately available is in the case of a search warrant. If presented with a search warrant, staff will not interfere with the search and seizure but will consult immediately with legal counsel. Our staff must support this policy of privacy and confidentiality. Not only is it the law, but it is the library’s long commitment to protecting the patron’s right to access information freely. In accordance with the law, the policy restricts our staff from disclosing information to the cardholder’s family or friends. This applies to the release of information to the parents of minors when the minor has their own library card. The Supervisor of the Public Records of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Carolyn Kelly MacWilliam, stated in May 1997, “A public library may not disclose records which reveal a minor’s borrowing information to the minor’s parent, regardless of whether the parent is paying the fine on an overdue item or the parent has signed the child’s library card application form.” At times our commitment to confidentiality may be an inconvenience. Your cooperation is greatly appreciated by the staff as by everyone who is protected by these laws. You may grant access to your library account by completing the shared account form at the library.
If you choose to grant access to your account how does this affect your library visit? Please read our frequently asked questions and answers and see!
Q. I am returning these library materials for my family member/friend. Can you tell me what is left on the account?
A. No, without a library card we cannot disclose any information about the account unless you have granted permission as described above.
Q. I am returning these overdue library materials for my family member/friend. Can I pay the fine?
A. Yes, you can pay the fine on library materials you have in hand, but all other information related to the library card account is confidential.
Q. I know my family member/friend has fines on his/her account; can I pay off his/her fines?
A. Yes, but the titles for which the fine was paid are confidential unless you have been granted access as described above.
Q. I do not have my family member/friend’s card but s/he has items out that need to be renewed. Can you renew them for me?
A. No, all transactions related to one’s account are confidential unless you have been granted access as described above.
Q. Can I pick up my family member/friend’s reserve?
A. If you have his/her library card or the reserve notice in hand. Without the notice or the card, our staff is unable to give you the reserve.
Q. My Child is under the age of 18, don’t I have the right to know the information related to his/her account?
A. No. A library account is confidential regardless of age or relationship. Q. My spouse and I share everything, s/he would not mind if we had use of the same account. Please let me manage the account.
A. No. One’s card is confidential regardless of age or relationship.
Q. I forgot or misplaced my library card. Will I be able to pick up my reserved book, take out library materials or manage my account?
A. Yes, as long as you have identification with a name and picture, we can access your account. In the event we suffer from computer problems we cannot access your account with ID. The easiest and most efficient way our staff can serve you is with your library card.
Q. Can I renew library materials over the phone without my library card?
A. We can renew each library item with its barcode number found on the book or on the receipt. But without the library card number we cannot disclose any other information about the account. The easiest and most efficient way our staff can serve you is with your library card. You can manage your library account online. A library card number or username and Personal Identification Number (PIN) are all that is necessary to access your account. If you do not have a PIN yet, you can establish one online or ask to create one the next time you are at the library. We cannot assign you a PIN over the phone but we can answer any questions concerning your account as long as you have provided us with your library card number.