Appendix C: Confidentiality of Library Records

The Council of the American library Association strongly recommends that the responsible officers of each library in the United States:

1. Formally adopt a policy which specifically recognizes its circulation records and other records identifying the name of library users to be confidential in nature.*

2. Advise all librarians and library employees that such records shall not be made available to any agency of state, federal, or local government except pursuant to such process, order, or subpoena as may be authorized under the authority of, and pursuant to, federal, state, or local law relating to civil, criminal or administrative discovery procedures or legislative investigative power.

3. Resist the issuance or enforcement of any such process, order, or subpoena until such time as a proper showing of good cause has been made in a court of competent jurisdiction.**

Adopted January 20, 1971; revised July 4, 1975, by the ALA Council.

* Note: See also ALA Policy Manual 54.15, Code of Ethics, point 3: “Librarians must protect each user’s right to privacy with respect to information sought or received, and materials consulted, borrowed, or acquired.”

** Note: Point 3, above, means that upon receipt of such process, order, or subpoena, the library’s officers will consult with their legal counsel to determine if such process, order, or subpoena is in proper form.