Library Privacy and Confidentiality Policy and Procedures

Policy Statement

Trexler Library will safeguard the privacy of individuals in their use of the library and maintain the confidentiality of library records. Student records, including library records, are additionally protected by federal privacy laws.

Purpose of Policy

The primary purpose of this policy is to detail the rights and responsibilities of library users and library staff relative to a library user’s right to privacy and to open inquiry without examination or scrutiny by others. Although the library makes every effort to protect the privacy of personal user information, including circulation records and computer use, the library may be required to release such information to federal, state, or local law enforcement officials pursuant to subpoenas or search warrants issued according to applicable federal or state law. The library will attempt to seek advice and review of Muhlenberg College's legal counsel before any release is made.

Muhlenberg College and Trexler Library also comply with the Family Education Right and Privacy Act (FERPA). FERPA only applies to currently enrolled students. (Visit the Office of the Registrar FERPA page for more information.)

Furthermore, Trexler Library subscribes to the Code of Ethics of the American Library Association. Section III of the Code of Ethics states that “we protect each library user's right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted.”

Library Privacy and Confidentiality Procedures

Purpose of Procedures

To provide a set of instructions for the library staff on how to handle a legal request for user information, in accordance with the affiliated policy. Procedure(s) Only faculty, management, and staff associates employed by Trexler Library are authorized initial responders to these requests.

  1. Library staff will ask for identification if they are approached by an agent or law enforcement officer and record the contact information (name, phone, etc.).
  2. Library staff will read this document before allowing officer(s) to proceed.
  3. Library staff will be aware that a subpoena does not require an immediate response from the library. If issued a search warrant the library can consult with their legal counsel and request that they be present during the actual search.
  4. The staff member who receives the legal request will immediately contact:
    1. Campus Safety, ext. 3112 (If it calls on the USA Patriot Act, contact stops with Campus Safety. Do not inform anyone else of this request);
    2. His/Her supervisor and/or Library Director (if after hours contact at home);
    3. If the staff member cannot reach a supervisor/director, he/she will call the College President’s office (484-664-3125).
  5. Library Director will contact the College President’s office for legal advice.
  6. Campus Safety and Security will provide assistance on-site during any search or disclosure of library user information and will document any search or disclosure (i.e., what was searched, taken, or disclosed).

Reviewed 2021