A patron’s right to privacy is a primary concern of the public library. Patrons have the right to be able to choose and use materials and services without fear of these records becoming public knowledge.
Pursuant to Wisconsin State Statute 43.30 “Public Library Records,” the public library is responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of all patron registrations, circulation records, materials use and service usage including disclosure to custodial parents or guardians of children under the age of 16.
43.30 Public library records. (1b) In this section, “custodial parent” includes any parent other than a parent who has been denied periods of physical placement with a child under s. 767.41(4).
(lm) Records of any library which is in whole or in part supported by public funds, including the records of a public library system, indicating the identity of any individual who borrows or uses the library’s documents or other materials, resources, or services may not be disclosed except by court order or to persons acting within the scope of their duties in the administration of the library or library system, to persons authorized by the individual to inspect such records, to custodial parents or guardians of children under the age of 16 as required under sub. (4), or to libraries as authorized under subs. (2) and (3).
(2) A library supported in whole or in part by public funds may disclose an individual’s identity to another library for the purpose of borrowing materials for the individual only if the library to which the individual’s identity is being disclosed meets at least one of the following requirements:
- The library is supported in whole or in part by public funds.
- The library has a written policy prohibiting the disclosure of the identity of the individual except as authorized under sub. (3).
- The library agrees not to disclose the identity of the individual except as authorized under sub. (3).
(3) A library to which an individual’s identity is disclosed under sub. (3) and that is not supported in whole or in part by public funds may disclose that individual’s identity to another library for the purpose of borrowing materials for that individual only if the library to which the identity is being disclosed meets at least one of the requirements specified under sub. (2)(a)to(c).
(4)Upon the request of a custodial parent or guardian of a child who is under the age of 16, a library supported in whole or part by public funds shall disclose to the custodial parent or guardian all library records relating the use of the library’s documents or other materials, resources, or services by that child.
History: 1981 c. 335; 1991 a. 269; 2003 a. 207
When linked with a person’s name, library registration, circulation information, materials usage and service usage are confidential. Employees have a legal responsibility not to reveal information about our patrons or their use of the library and should access patron information only when it is necessary to complete their job responsibilities or as required by law.
Patron’s registration, circulation details, or materials and service usage must never be discussed with any individual except when needed in the performance of one’s job. Such information should never be discussed with anyone outside of the library. Gossip and careless remarks regarding a patron’s uses of the library, in or out of the library, are violations of trust and the library’s confidentiality policy. Such violations may be cause for immediate dismissal, regardless of position or length of service.
Requests for information
The normal reply to any request for patron information or materials and service usage, outside of that described above, should be that this information is confidential. If requester is persistent, please refer them to the Library Director. All requests from law enforcement personnel should be referred to the Library Director.
Reviewed and Updated: June 2022