Patron’s Right to Privacy
The Clearwater Public Library System recognizes the need to protect patrons’ right to privacy regarding the questions they ask and the materials they borrow and read.
In order to guarantee privacy to each individual, Florida law mandates confidentiality of library registration and borrowing records, and Clearwater Public Library System policies and procedures carry out that intent.
Florida Statute on Confidentiality of Patron Records
Library patron registration and borrowing records are confidential under Florida State Statute 257.261, Library registration and circulation records:
- 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.
- 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.
- (a) 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.
(b) 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:
- The library patron named in the records;
- In the case of a library patron less than 16 years of age, the parent or guardian of that patron named in the records;
- 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;
- 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
- Judicial officials.
- Any person who violates this section commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
History.—s. 1, ch. 78-81; s. 1, ch. 89-18; s. 1, ch. 96-220; s. 112, ch. 96-406; s. 1, ch. 2003-13; s. 6, ch. 2003-126.
Patron’s Personal Borrowing Record
Library staff cannot give any information about a patron’s registration and circulation record to anyone other than the patron, with the following exceptions:
- In the case of overdue materials, parents or guardians of minor children under the age of sixteen, may be given a list of the outstanding materials solely for the purpose of reclaiming those materials;
- In the case of overdue materials, information may be given to a collection agency solely for the purpose of reclaiming missing materials.
Library staff cannot allow a family member or friend to pick up an item on hold or otherwise access patron information without prior authorization from the cardholder. Authorization may be provided by giving the library card to the designated proxy or by providing, in person, with valid identification, verbal authorization to a library staff member, who will enter a permanent note in the patron record.
Reviewed July 2019