Confidentiality Policy

Commitment to Privacy

The FAU Libraries value each individual's privacy concerning use of library resources and actively seeks to preserve those privacy rights. Privacy of library records is a central tenet of the profession as affirmed by the American Library Association's Code of Ethics. This tenet is upheld by Florida Statute 257.261, which protects the privacy of citizens with regard to their required personal information in library patron databases and materials they have checked out of libraries. (See "Circulation Records" below for more information on this statute.)

According to the statute, only with proper judicial order or documentation may a third party such as a law enforcement agency request such information from library staff. However, the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT) Act of 2001 (Public Law 107-56), which was signed into law on October 26, 2001, allows for broader access to private information by law enforcement agencies.

The following information explains privacy policies relating to various library services. However, these shall not be construed as a contractual promise, and the Libraries reserve the right to amend policies at any time without notice. Privacy and public records obligations of the FAU Libraries are governed by University policy, pertinent Florida statutes, and by any applicable U.S. federal laws.

See the FAU Internet Privacy Policy for the university-wide standards for privacy.

Use of the FAU Libraries Web Site

When connecting to the FAU Libraries web site from a personal workstation outside the library, no information other than Internet domain and IP address from which a user connects is recorded for statistical purposes. Our web site contains links to licensed Internet databases and other web sites that are maintained outside of the FAU Libraries. The Libraries are not responsible for the privacy practices of these external websites. Some of these services provide options for establishing accounts/profiles to take advantage of enhanced services they offer. If you log on to any of these using a personal username/password, be sure to log off to protect your privacy from others using your workstation.

The Libraries also maintain several web-based management tools, such as forms related to renewing books, asking reference questions, requesting recalls, etc. The personally identifiable information collected and stored in the Libraries' computer or other systems will be used only to maintain your library account and communicate with you. It is not made available to any other entity outside the Libraries, except as required by law.

In order to protect your privacy in regard to these services, you should always close your web browser and log off any computer upon completion of your session.

Borrowing FAU Libraries Materials

The Libraries maintain personally identifiable information for library accounts of valid library users. Items charged out are linked to the individual who currently has them. Upon return of an item to the library, no record that the item has been borrowed by the individual is retained unless the item was returned damaged and resulted in damage charges. Records of non-returned or lost items billed to an individual for replacement are also retained for the same administrative and auditing purposes.

Circulation Records (Florida Statutes Section 257.261):

Circulation records are confidential in accordance with Section 257.261 of the Florida Statutes. The Statutes state:

  1. All registration and circulation records of every public library, except statistical reports of registration and circulation, are confidential and  exempt from the provisions of s. 119.07(1) and from s. 24(a) of Art. I of the State Constitution.
  2. As used in this section, the term "registration records" includes any information that a library requires a patron to provide in order to become eligible to borrow books and other materials, and the term "circulation records" includes all information that identifies the patrons who borrow particular books and other materials.
  3. Except in accordance with a proper judicial order, a person may not make known in any manner any information contained in records made confidential and exempt by this section, except as otherwise provided in this section.
    1. A library or any business operating jointly with the library may, only for the purpose of collecting fines or recovering overdue books, documents, films, or other items or materials owned or otherwise belonging to the library, disclose information made confidential and exempt by this section to the following:
      1. The library patron named in the records;
      2.  In the case of a library patron less than 16 years of age, the parent or guardian of that patron named in the records;
      3. Any entity that collects fines on behalf of a library, unless the patron is less than 16 years of age, in which case only information identifying the patron's parent or guardian may be released;
      4. Municipal or county law enforcement officials, unless the patron is 16 years of age, in which case only information identifying the patron's parent or guardian may be released; or
      5. Judicial officials.
  4. Any person who violates this section commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083."

Other Library Services

While this statute specifically serves public libraries, academic libraries such as the FAU Libraries are included because they are open to the public and thus fall under this same statute. Library staff will not give out the name of a person who currently has an item to another library user, and will not release this information to any other entity outside the Libraries. However, the FAU Libraries will comply with all lawfully issued court orders and subpoenas properly served upon them and furnish the documents and materials specifically listed in the court order or subpoena.

Confidentiality extends to information sought or received, materials consulted, database search records, reference interviews, interlibrary loan records, and other personally identifiable uses of library materials, facilities, or services. A user's information is not made available to any other entity outside the Libraries, except as required by law.

See the FAU's Acceptable Use of Technology Resources for guidelines of computer use in the library.

Questions regarding public service policies should be directed to Dawn Smith, Assistant Dean, Public Services.

Last modified at 10/03/2018 - 13:08 PM