It is the policy of the John B. Coleman Library that the privacy of all users shall be respected in compliance with federal and state laws and professional standards. The Library will not reveal the identities of individual users or reveal what information resources or services they consult. This policy applies to all resources regardless of their format or means of delivery as well as to all services offered by the library.
To aid understanding of the use of value of resources and services, the Library may aggregate and retain user data for a reasonable period of time. It will, however, neither collect nor retain information identifying individuals except during the period when and only for the purpose that such records is necessary to furnish a specific service (for example, loaning a book, ordering a report, recording user service preferences, or for internal service evaluation). Data on individuals will not be shared with third parties unless if required by law.
For examples of how this policy applies to specific services or programs, please refer to the Practice Guidelines that follow.
It is the policy of the Library that the privacy of all borrowers of library materials shall be respected. The Library will not reveal the names of individual borrowers nor reveal what books are, or have been, charged to any individual.
When library users need books that are on loan, the circulation department will assist them by calling in those books as soon as the guaranteed loan period has ended. If the books desired are in a renewal period, they will be recalled immediately.
Collection Development and Management
Comments, purchase recommendations, gifts-in-kind, and special requests from users make an important contribution to building and shaping the Library’s collections. Purchase, transfer, and related collection management requests linked to individual users, or even group of users (an academic department), are deemed confidential reader information and not shared outside the Library. Within the Library, user names are temporarily attached to internal records and shared among relevant staff to facilitate notification of Library actions and follow-through. The exception to these guidelines is in the event a “special” collection is recognized by the Library with personalized “bookplates” with the permission of the donor.
Contracts and Licenses for Information Resources
To provide additional personalized service, vendors may require users to identify themselves. Such identification will be only at the user’s discretion and will require the user to follow clearly indicated procedures before the service is activated. The service provider may not sell, lease, or loan information identifying users or the information they use to third parties unless authorized in advance by each user. To aid understanding of the use or value of resources and services, service providers may aggregate and retain anonymous user data.
Requestors of interlibrary loan and document deliver services receive the same protection in terms of confidentiality of their requests. In some cases, information about requests is shared with other library staff for collection development purposes; it remains confidential within the library. Documentation of requests may be retained as necessary for the Library to comply with statistical reporting, copyright or other regulations.
Library Surveys & Assessment Projects
Information and data obtained by the Library or its units through surveys (group or individual interviews or other means) in support of assessment of services, collections, facilities, resources, etc., or in support of research related to library and information services, are considered confidential and will not be shared except in aggregations, to protect the privacy of individual participants.
Public Access Computerized Systems
The Library’s access systems (i.e., Voyager or various electronic collection systems) frequently track or “log” the actions performed by users of those systems. Such transaction level logging that can be tied to individuals may be kept intact for a limited period of time for trouble-shooting and problem resolution related to system functions and service transactions. During the period that this information is retained, it is held in confidence, and in accord with Library policies, is not shared with third parties. After such period of time as the information may be reasonably useful for problem resolution, this information may be aggregated for reporting on types of use and use of materials. Information regarding individual identities (or the source of the transaction) must be removed. The period of time needed for storing full transaction level logging should be determined on a case-by-case basis. Original transaction logging information that has been processed in this way must be destroyed, and care taken to ensure that back-ups or other inadvertently stored forms of the data are not retained.
Reference & Research Consultations
Reference and research consultation services are confidential and information about individuals using these services will not be shared outside the Library. Library staff will not reveal the identity of library users, the nature of their inquiries, nor the information or sources they consult. Data about reference or research consultations may recorded for management or assessment purposes or to compile information on frequently asked questions.
Note Policy statements and guidelines related to the use of Electronic Resources and Privacy issues were adapted from similar statements by other college & research libraries, including: Georgia State University and the University of Michigan.
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