Policy on Confidentiality of Patron Records
Confidentiality as a guiding principle
The policy of the UT Dallas
Libraries is that its circulation records and other records
linking a library user with specific materials or services
are confidential in nature. According to the Texas
Public Information Act (as amended 1999) and
in accord with established principles guiding the provision
of library services, staff members may not release the names
of borrowers who are using or who have used library materials
or services. Exceptions are made only upon court order, subpoena,
or warrant, or when deemed necessary by University officials
for internal investigations.The Vice President of the Office of Administration is the University's liaison with judicial and law
enforcement authorities in matters regarding official records
of the University. A UT Dallas Library staff member may not
release information except to the office of The Vice President of the Office of Administration or to a UT Dallas Libraries administrator
to be passed on to that office, except in the case of a warrant
which is immediately executable. The University of Texas System
Business Procedures Memorandum 32-06-05, Texas
Public Information Act, establishes each component
institution's Chief Financial Officer as the custodian of
records for that institution.
The USA PATRIOT Act
The Uniting and Strengthening
America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept
and Obstruct Terrorism Act (USA PATRIOT Act) became law on
October 26, 2001. Under provisions of the act, the Federal
Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other law enforcement officials
may seek court orders for library records for investigations
relevant to national security or terrorism. Libraries or library
staff served with these search warrants may not disclose,
under penalty of law, the existence of the warrants or the
fact that records were produced as a result of the warrants.
Borrowers cannot be told their records were given to law enforcement
agencies or that they were the subjects of FBI investigations.
How are the Libraries responding to the
USA PATRIOT Act?
The USA PATRIOT Act overrides
library confidentiality laws protecting
library records and the libraries will comply with it. The
libraries' policy relating to privacy and confidentiality
of information has not changed as a result of the act.Many
provisions of the PATRIOT Act, including the section that
relates to libraries, expire automatically on December 31,
2005, unless renewed by Congress.
Minimum records kept
The UT Dallas Libraries keep
the minimum number of records necessary to maintain operations.
For example, when a user logs off a library computer, the
library does not retain information that connects the user
to activities performed during the session. When a borrower
returns materials to the library, if no fines or fees are
assessed, the patron's link to the item information
is automatically dropped.
For more information
More information on the USA
PATRIOT Act is available from the American Library Association.