Boulder City Magazine® April 2006 Issue
by Duncan R. McCoy, Director
Boulder City Library
Personal Information Sharing
The Library occasionally receives requests to provide personal information about borrowers. In the past couple of weeks, we’ve received three phone calls in which the caller said they’d “found a library card and could we give the name and address of the cardholder” so the caller could have the cardholder pick up the card. On each occasion, we refused and the callers hung up. On one occasion, the caller said “You call that service?” and then hung up.
Boulder City Magazine®
|We will not release personal information about library patrons, ever, over the phone. We will release information to the patrons themselves or to custodial parents or legal guardians of minor children, but only face-to-face, in person. NRS 239.013 defines public library patron records as confidential and prohibits their release to any third party, except when accompanied by a court order or subpoena. In my twenty-eight years as a library director, I’ve never seen a subpoena for library patron records. I don’t know of any other library directors who have seen one, either.
When people call on the phone and ask for personal information about library borrowers, whether they say they want information about their own library records or somebody else’s, we don’t have any way of knowing who is really on the other end. So we will never release patron information over the phone. If you come in and ask, in person, if we don’t know you we will ask for identification.
So who calls for personal information about library patrons? In some cases, no doubt, the requests are genuine and come from the patrons themselves. But we don’t know. We took one of these calls about a year ago from a man who identified himself as a police officer. I called Chief Turk at BCPD and asked him if any of his officers were doing an investigation which required library records and he said no. Callers could be collection agents or private detectives looking for someone, former wives or husbands trying to find former families who might not want to be found, etc.
We don’t refuse to release patron information because we’re stuffy, grumpy, obstructionist, retentive bureaucrats. We refuse because it’s confidential under the law, Board policy says we can’t, in some cases we don’t know who is asking, and we believe personal information is private.
Contact the Boulder City Library at www.bclibrary.org
P.O. Box 61901
Boulder City, Nevada 89006
Phone (702) 294-1392 Fax (702) 294-1392
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