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Library Privacy Policy

Patron’s Right to Privacy

The Clearwater Public Library System recognizes the need to protect your right to privacy about the questions you ask and the materials you borrow and read.

In order to guarantee privacy to each individual, Florida law mandates confidentiality of your registration and borrowing records, and Clearwater Public Library System policies and procedures carry out that intent.

Florida Statute on Confidentiality of Patron Records

Library patron registration and borrowing records are confidential under State Statute on confidentiality, Chapter 257.261, Florida State Statute, as amended (1996):

All registration and circulation records of every public library, except statistical reports of registration and circulation, are confidential and exempt from the provisions of s. 119.07(1) and from s. 24(a) of Art. 1 of the State Constitution.  Except in accordance with proper judicial order, a person may not make known in any manner any information contained in such records, except as provided in this section. As used in this section, the term “registration records” includes any information that a library requires a patron to provide in order to become eligible to borrow books and other materials, and the term “circulation records” includes all information that identifies the patrons who borrow particular books and other materials.  This section does not prohibit any library, or any business operating jointly with the library, from disclosing information to municipal or county law enforcement officials, or to judicial officials, for the purpose of recovering overdue books, documents, films, or other items or materials owned or otherwise belonging to the library.  This section does not prohibit any library, or any business operating jointly with the library, from disclosing information to municipal or county law enforcement officials or to judicial officials or to any business for the purpose of collecting fines on overdue books, documents, films, or other items or materials.  In the case of a public library patron under the age of 16, a public library may only release confidential information relating to the parent or guardian of the person under 16.

Any person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

Patron’s Personal Borrowing Record

Library staff cannot give any information about a patron’s registration and circulation record to anyone other than the patron, with the following exceptions:

- In the case of overdue materials, parents or guardians of minor children under the age of sixteen, may be given a list of the outstanding materials solely for the purpose of reclaiming those materials;
- In the case of overdue materials, information may be given to a collection agency solely for the purpose of reclaiming missing materials.

Library staff cannot allow a family member or friend to pick up an item on hold or otherwise access patron information without prior authorization from the card holder.  Authorization may be provided by giving the library card to the designated proxy or by providing in person, with valid identification, verbal authorization to a library staff member, who will enter a permanent note in the patron record.

The Clearwater Public Library System regrets any inconvenience to library users this policy may cause.