Marion County Public Library Stance On Patron Privacy

The Marion County Public Library fully subscribes to the Library Bill of Rights. Privacy is essential to the exercise of free speech, free thought, and free association. Library patron privacy is assured by federal law as well as Kentucky Attorney General Opinions (OAG 82-149 & OAG 81-159).

According to the Kentucky Attorney General and Kentucky Statute, library patron records are private, and should not be surrendered without a proper court order requiring the library to make the records available. The Kentucky Attorney General states this in OAG 81 -159:

“KRS 61.878(1 )(a) reads as follows:
“The following public records are excluded from the application of KRS 61.870-61.884 and shall be subject to inspection only upon order of a court of competent jurisdiction:

(a) public records containing information of a personal nature where th ~ public disclosure thereof would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy .. . ”

The wording of this statute calls for a weighing of an individual’s right of privacy against the public interest in the transaction involved. Wine Hobbies U.S.A. , Inc. v. U.S. Internal Revenue Service, 502 F.2d.133 (1974)

“We think that the individual’s privacy rights as to what he borrows from a public library (books, motion picture film, periodicals and any other matter) is overwhelming. In fact we can see no public interest at all to put in the scales opposite the privacy rights of the individual. “ (OAG 81-159)

Note: Some library records (board minutes, policies, and other governance documents) are subject to open records requests – but not library patron records.

In order to uphold and support the intellectual freedom of its user community, the Library maintains confidentiality of all library borrowing records and of other information relating to personal use of library information and services. All library employees with access to circulation records or any other personal information about library staff or library users will not divulge such information to anyone except the borrower him/herself.

If and when an employee of the library is asked by an official representative of a government agency for confidential patron information, he/she will immediately refer the agent to the library director, who will proceed as outlined in our policy. If the agent produces a subpoena or a search warrant the library director will review the documentation and work with library staff to comply with its demands.