Library Confidentiality Policy

Section A. References

The confidentiality policy of the Mitchellville Public Library is based on the First and Fourth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, the Iowa Code, and professional ethics.

First Amendment: Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech...

Fourth Amendment: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be foliated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. 

Code of Iowa 22.7 "Examination of Public Records (Open Records)"

22.7 Confidential records.

The following public records shall be kept confidential unless otherwise ordered by a court, by the lawful custodian of the records, or by another person duly authorized to release such information...

12.  The records of a library, which, by themselves or when examined with other public records, would reveal the identity of the library patron checking out or requesting an item or information from the library. The records shall be released to a criminal or a juvenile justice agency only pursuant to an investigating of a particular person or organization suspected of committing a known crime. The records shall be released only upon a judicial determination that a rational connection exists between the requested releases of information and a legitimate end and that the need for the information is cogent and compelling.

18.  Communications not required by law, rule, procedure, or contract that are made to government body or to any of its employees by identified persons outside of the government, to the extent that a government body receiving those communications from such persons outside of the government could reasonably believe that those persons would be discouraged from making them to that government body if they were available for general public examination.

Section B. Confidentiality Policy


Confidentiality is essential to protect the exercise of First and Fourth Amendment rights. In accordance with the First and Fourth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, the Iowa Code and the professional ethics, the Board of Trustees of the Mitchellville Public Library respects the privacy of the users and recognizes its responsibility to protect their privacy.

1.  The library will not reveal the identities of individual users nor reveal the information sources or services they consult unless required by law. Confidentiality extends to information sought or received and materials consulted, borrowed, or acquired. Confidentiality includes database search records, reference interviews, interlibrary loan records, computer use records, and all other personally identifiable uses of library materials, facilities, or services.

2.  The library will hold confidential the names of card holders and their information and not provide access for private, public or commercial use.

3.  The lawful custodian of the records is the Director of the Library.

4.  The library will not release registration, circulation, or other records protected under the Iowa Code unless it is required by law to release the information. Circumstances, which may require the library to release the information include the following:

    • A criminal or juvenile justice agency is seeking the information in pursuant to an investigation of a particular person or organization suspected of committing a known crime AND the criminal or juvenile justice agency presents the library director with a court order demonstrating that there has been a judicial determination that a rational connection exists between the requested release of information and a legitimate end and that the need for the information is cogent and compelling.
    • The library receives a Warrant for the information issued under the USA Patriot Act (which includes amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the Electronic Communications Privacy Ace).
    • The library receives a National Security Letter seeking the information pursuant to the USA Patriot Act.
    • The library receives a valid court order requiring the library to release registration, circulation or other records protected under the Iowa Code and the information is not sought in conjunction with a criminal or juvenile justice investigation.

Section C: Procedures for enforcing the policy on confidentiality of library records

1.  The library staff member receiving a request to examine or obtain information relating to registration records or circulation records or other records identifying the names of Library users, shall immediately refer the requestor to the Director, the official custodian of the records.

(To prevent any misunderstanding, the staff member should avoid discussing with the person making the request what user information may or may not be available, or what the Library can or cannot do.)

If the Library Director is not available (such as during evenings or weekends or away on business or vacation) inform the requestor when the Director will be available. If pressed to act sooner, contact the Director immediately whether the Director is out of town or at home. In the event the Director cannot be reached, the President of the Board of Trustees is responsible for working with the requestor.

2.  The Library Director shall meet with the requestor of the information. If the requestor is a law enforcement officer the officer must have a court  the order, a warrant issued under the U.S. Patriot Act or a National Security Letter (NSL) issued under the U.S. Patriot Act to receive the requested records. If the office does not have a proper court order, warrant or NSL compelling the production of records, the Library Director shall refuse to provide the information. The Library Director may explain the confidentiality policy and the state's confidentiality law and inform the agent or officer that users' records are not available except when a proper court order in good form has been presented to the Library.

3.  If the records requested cover registration, circulation or other records protected under Iowa Code, and the Director is uncertain about whether order, or subpoena presented to the Library Director is sufficient to require records, the Library Director may immediately consult with legal counsel to determine if such process, order or subpoena is sufficient to require release of records.

4.  If any written request, process, order, or subpoena is not in proper form or do not otherwise appear to be sufficient to support releasing the records, the Library Director shall insist that such defects be cured before any records are released.

5.  If the Library Director or the Director in consultation with the Library's attorney determines that the order, warrant or NSL is sufficient and compels the release of records, the library Director shall release the record.

6.  If the requestor is not a law enforcement officer and has not presented any type of court or administrative order requiring release of the requested information, the Library Director shall refuse to provide the requested records. The Library Director may explain the confidentiality policy and the state's confidentiality law.

7.  The Library Director is authorized to take legal action (such as moving to quash a subpoena) to resist releasing requested registration, circulation or other records protected under the Iowa Code if the Library Director and the Library's legal counsel deem such action to be appropriate.

8.  Any threats or unauthorized demands (i.e. those not supported by a written request, process, order or subpoena) concerning circulation and other records identifying the names of library users shall be reported to the Director.

9.  Any problems relating to the privacy of circulation and other records identifying the names of Library users, which are not provided for above, shall be referred to the Director. 

10.  If the request is made pursuant to the U.S. Patriot Act, the Library Director is authorized to obtain legal counsel regarding the request. As required by the U.S. Patriot Act, the Library Director may not discuss the request with anyone other than legal counsel.