USA Patriot Act of 2001 Policy

The Stevens Memorial Library supports the President of the United States and congressional leaders in our nation’s efforts to preserve and protect the many hard-fought freedoms we enjoy as Americans. Public libraries are facing a dilemma of having the responsibility of protecting the privacy of our patrons while responding to legitimate national security concerns. The library recognizes the confidentiality of information sought or received and materials consulted, borrowed or acquired by a library user.

The Stevens Memorial Library strives to create an environment that is:

  • Crime free
  • A safe place
  • A place for learning and the pursuit of knowledge and information on any topic
  • A place where patrons can ask any question and discuss any topic

The library will do its utmost to uphold the privacy and confidentiality of patrons’ free access to information. We will rely on existing laws and library policies to control behavior that involves public safety or criminal behavior.

About the USA Patriot Act of 2001

HR-3162 became Public Law 107-56 in response to the events of 9/11/01. The full title of the law is: Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001.

The Act may provide law enforcement broader boundaries when investigating information accessed and transmitted by patrons with regards to national security concerns.

Access to patron information may include but is not limited to:

  • Database Search Records
  • Circulation Records
  • Computer Use Records
  • Inter-library Loan Records
  • Reference Interviews

Any data stored on our computers, or our network is protected by Massachusetts state law : “That part of the records of a public library which reveal the identity and pursuits of a person using such library shall not be a public record as defined by clause Twenty-six of section seven of chapter four.” (see MGL, Ch. 78, Sec. 7)

Database/Catalog Search Records: These records refer to the searches of the collection a patron may conduct on the Online Public Access Terminals (OPAC). These searches are conducted by utilizing the library’s automated circulation system, Horizon. Horizon is a product of Dynix. Once a search is conducted, the software does not retain a copy of what materials a patron searched for in the catalog, even when they are logged into their account. Any records of the search will not exist. It is, however, possible to recall those web pages from the hard drive unless the computer has been rebooted.

Circulation Records: Patron material is circulated via the Horizon system. The circulation software tracks materials currently checked out, (and the last item checked in) automatically erasing a reader’s borrowing record once a book is returned and all fines are paid. Items with outstanding fines are retained in the patron record until the fines are paid. Records for items which are lost and unpaid for retain their link to the borrower

Computer Use Records: Sign-up sheets for Internet stations are kept for 2 days. Computers retain the time and the web sites visited until the computer is rebooted. At that time Deep Freeze clears the computer’s memory. Resetting the computer when you are finished will erase the history file of sites that have been visited during your search.

Reference Interviews: During the reference interview notes are made regarding the material requested, the patron’s name and phone number. Once the transaction has been completed the paper record is destroyed.

Approved by the Stevens Memorial Library Board of Trustees on: March 9, 2004