Policy Regarding Privacy of Patrons' Research and Reading Materials


  1. Library service records are maintained for the sole purpose of conserving public property and are not to be used to identify the titles or kinds of material viewed by individual Library patrons, except as required by this Policy J.
  2. Library service records, whether in paper or electronic form, that reveal the details, nature, or purpose of information requested or obtained by an identifiable patron shall not be revealed to any person or entity unless required by the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, subpoena, or court order, or unless disclosure of the information is specifically approved by the Library Director.
    1. The Virginia Freedom of Information Act, Va. Code Ann. § 2.2-3700 through -3714 ("VFOIA"). The VFOIA governs the handling of requests for records in the possession of a public body in the transaction of public business, which includes records of the Library. Under VFOIA, such records are generally open to inspection and copying by Virginia citizens and representatives of the news media.

      However, Va. Code Ann. § 2.2-3705.7 (3) creates an exemption that allows the Library to withhold from such inspection and copying "library records that can be used to identify both (i) any library patron who has borrowed material from a library and (ii) the material such patron has borrowed." The library staff shall not provide information in response to any request that comes within the scope of that exemption.

    2. Subpoenas. Any library staff person who is served with a subpoena that requires the disclosure of any library records shall immediately send the subpoena to the Library Director. The Library Director, in consultation with the County Attorney, shall be responsible for directing any response to the subpoena. The Library Director shall advise the Fairfax County Library Board of Trustees of the subpoena and inform them of any action taken pursuant to such subpoena.

    3. Search warrants. Any library staff person who is presented or served with a search warrant for any library records shall ask the law-enforcement officer to show identification, record identifying information, obtain or make a copy of the search warrant, and then immediately contact the Library Director. If the Library Director is unavailable, Library staff shall ask the law-enforcement officer if the search can be delayed until such time as the Library Director is available. However, if the law-enforcement officer refuses the request, library staff shall allow the search to proceed. The Library Director shall notify the County Attorney and may seek advice if necessary to determine the validity and scope of the warrant. If the County Attorney is unavailable at the time the search warrant is served, the Library Director may ask the law-enforcement officer if the search can be delayed pending consultation with the County Attorney. However, if the law-enforcement officer refuses the request, the Library Director shall allow the search to proceed. The Library Director or library staff shall ask the law-enforcement officer for an inventory of items taken. The Library Director shall advise the Library Board of Trustees of the warrant.

      If the search warrant is issued pursuant to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, 50 USC Chapter 36, the Library Director shall take measures to ensure that only those library staff who are necessary to produce the records or assist in the search are informed of the warrant. The Library Director shall advise those library staff persons and the Library Board of Trustees that federal law prohibits them from disclosing the existence of the search warrant.

    4. Other court orders. Any library staff person who is served for any other court order that requires the disclosure of any library records shall immediately send the order to the Library Director for review and response.

11/2002


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