Back to top

Confidentiality of Library Records

The following policy statement regarding the confidentiality of library records was adopted by the St. Louis County Library Board of Directors, August 11, 1982; amended October 20, 1982, and January 22, 1987; reaffirmed August 16, 1999 and revised February 8, 2016:

The St. Louis County Library agrees in spirit with the U.S. Privacy Act of 1974 and the Policy on the Confidentiality of Library Records adopted by the Council of the American Library Association, January 20, 1971, and affirms the belief that people have the right to be secure against unreasonable or unwarranted invasions of privacy. 

In addition, the library supports and complies with applicable Missouri Statutes regarding the confidentiality and disclosure of library records.  Pursuant to these Missouri statutes, all library records that identify a person or persons as having requested, used or borrowed library material and all other records identifying the names of library users are confidential. Library materials include any book, ebook, digital resource or material, document, film, record, art work, or other library property which a patron may use, borrow or request.  These include, but are not limited to, registration information, circulation records, database search records, computer use records, and interlibrary loan or reference records. Library staff may access these records only for the purpose of performing their assigned duties and as necessary for the efficient operation of library programs and services. Library records will not be released or disclosed except:

  • In response to an order issued by a court of competent jurisdiction upon a finding that the disclosure of such record is necessary to protect the public safety or to prosecute a crime, after confirming that the order is in proper legal form.
     
  • To the library's contractors and consultants for use in the course of carrying out library operations, or for conducting surveys and evaluations of the library's delivery of services.
     
  • To a recovery agent contracted by the library for the collection of fines, fees, and non-returned library materials.
     
  • In response to a person's written request to release or disclose the patron’s library records.  Written consent for the release or disclosure of such records may be obtained generally in advance or in specific situations.  The person identified in the record or person to whom records are being released or disclosed shall present identification as required by library staff.
     
  • In response to the written request of a parent or guardian of a minor child to release or disclose library records pertaining to the child's account for which they are responsible.  The parent/guardian's name must be listed on the child's account.  Written consent for the release or disclosure of such records may be obtained generally in advance or in specific situations.  The parent/guardian or person to whom records are being released or disclosed shall present identification as required by library staff.

Patrons may conduct only legal activity while using library resources and services. Nothing in this policy prevents the library from exercising its right to enforce its Code of Conduct or other policies, protect its facilities, network and equipment from harm, nor prevent the use of library facilities and equipment for illegal purposes. The library can electronically log activity to monitor its public computers and external access to its network and reserves the right to review such logs when a violation of law or library policy is suspected.  Staff is authorized to take immediate action to protect the security of library patrons, staff, facilities, computers and the network.  This includes contacting law enforcement authorities and providing information that may identify the individual(s) suspected of a violation.