Library Privacy Policy

Privacy/Confidentiality of Records:

The Van Alstyne Public Library supports every patron’s right to have his or her records remain confidential. Library records include patron registration data, circulation records, overdue and reserve records, participation in library-sponsored programs, library visits, and/or any data that contains information that links to specific materials or services used. It is the intent of the Van Alstyne Public Library to protect the privacy of those who use the Library.

Each patron has individual control over his/her borrower’s card and presentation of the card permits access to information about borrower’s current circulation record. Patron information will be retained only for the proper and efficient functions of the library. Personal information, such as name, address, and telephone number, are kept indefinitely. Except during the actual period of transaction (circulation, maintenance of record on unpaid fines, reservation of materials), the library will not maintain a record of transaction. When no longer needed for administration purposes, physical records will be destroyed and computer files will be deleted from their respective systems or media.

Library program records, with names and telephone numbers, are kept until the program has taken place.

In compliance with Chapter 552 (Texas Public Information Act) of the Texas Government Code, setting forth the confidentiality of the records of any library or library system which is supported in whole or part by public funds, that identify or serve to identify a person who requested, obtained, or used library materials or service, no information will be released to any person, agency, or organization except in response to a valid court order, subpoena of district court properly presented to the Library Director or as otherwise lawfully allowed.

Nothing in this policy shall prevent authorized library personnel from using library records in the administration of their regular duties.

The Van Alstyne Public Library affirms the provisions of the American Library Association’s statement on Privacy: an Interpretation of Library Bill of Rights (see Appendices [link opens ALA website in a new tab]).

Be advised that The USA Patriot Act of 2001 (P.L. 107-56) overrides all state laws protecting the patron’s right to privacy. According to Section 215 Access to Records under Foreign Intelligence Security (FISA):

“Allows an FBI agent to obtain a search warrant for “any tangible thing”, which can include books, records, papers, floppy discs, data tapes and computers with hard drives.

Permits the FBI to compel production of library circulation records, Internet use records, and registration information stored in any medium.

Does not require the agent to demonstrate “probable cause”, the existence of specific facts to support the belief that a crime has been committed or that the items sought are evidence of a crime. Instead, the agent only needs to claim that he believes that the records he wants may be related to an ongoing investigation related to terrorism or intelligence activities, a very low legal standard.

Libraries or librarians served with a search warrant issued under FISA rules may not disclose, under penalty of law, the existence of the warrant or the fact that records were produced as a result of the warrant. A patron cannot be told that his/her records were given to the FBI or that she or he is subject to investigation”.

The above section is taken from the American Library Association’s
The USA PATRIOT Act in the Library (see Appendices [link opens ALA website in a new tab]).