Librarians have a long history as defenders of the right of users to pursue open inquiry free of scrutiny. The American Library Association’s Code of Ethics (1995) states, "We protect each library user’s right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired, or transmitted."
Langsdale Library is committed to preserving the privacy of its users and the confidentiality of library records. Your privacy and confidentiality are protected as a matter of Langsdale Library policy and Maryland state law. With the exception of fine and billing information shared with the University Business Office, we do not distribute or disclose user names, email or postal addresses, telephone numbers, borrower records, or other personally identifiable information unless required to do so by court order or as law provides, or pursuant to the user’s express written request. Requests for information from outside agencies will be referred to legal counsel to ensure that the rights of users are not violated.
Library staff are trained to administer these policies and instructed on how to respond to requests for information. If you desire more information on these policies please consult a Library staff member. If the staff member is unable to answer your question(s), he/she will direct you to the appropriate Library staff person. If you believe that the Library is not following its stated policy, please contact the Library Director at 410.837.4319.
Please note: Not all the activities in which you engage in the Library are governed by Library policy. Please examine the sections below for exceptions.
The Library functions on many levels and with varied levels of interaction with users. Below are some of the broad areas of activity and Langsdale Library’s policies affecting privacy in these areas.
Circulation: The Circulation Department has the responsibility of charging out materials to users, obtaining material from other campuses through the Hold/Recall function of the catalog, providing access to reserve materials, and maintaining the collection.
System-created records of each current transaction are retained until each item’s return or until payment has been made for its late return. Except upon presentation of a court order, these records may not be released to anyone except the patron or the University Business Office. Staff are directed to clear the loan and return logs on each terminal after each transaction session to prevent casual third-party viewing.
Important: Current software used by the University System of Maryland and Affiliated Institutions (USMAI) allow, upon the presentation of appropriate legal documents, access to personally identifiable information generated by transactions. This system currently retains the names and IDs of patrons, the item loan and return dates, and the request dates and hold dates. The Directors of the USMAI libraries are currently developing policies and technologies to eliminate the storage of this information in the system.
Computer Use In The Library: It is the policy of the Library to allow students,faculty, and staff use of the computers with first priority given to those engaged in research or course-related projects. Access to computers, e-mail, and network resources are also governed by a variety of University and UB Office of Technology Services policies. You can view these policies, along with proposals for new policy at Online Policies.
You should be aware that recent federal legislation such as the `Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT ACT) Act of 2001' expands the ability of the federal government to monitor and investigate computer use and allow for such monitoring and investigation WITHOUT INFORMING users they are under investigation.
E-mail: The Library does not monitor e-mail but expects users to conform to the policies of the Office of Technology Services and the University. You can review these policies at Online Policies.
As mentioned above, recent federal legislation such as the `Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT ACT) Act of 2001' expands the ability of the federal government to monitor and investigate electronic mail use and allow for such monitoring and investigation WITHOUT INFORMING users they are under investigation.
Inter-Library Loan Services (ILL): This department is responsible for acquiring material not available online, books not in the University System of Maryland, and articles not held at Langsdale or in our databases.ILL maintains a database of patrons’ transactions for reporting and copyright purposes. This database includes personally identifiable information linked to requested materials. Electronic patron information is deleted after 2 years and paper information is destroyed after one year. Paper requests are destroyed at the beginning of the calendar year following the year of the request. This information is not shared with anyone outside the Library except on the presentation of appropriate legal documents.
Personal conduct: The Library avoids interfering in the personal actions of patrons or the monitoring of their activities unless such behavior disrupts normal library routine, disturbs other library users, or presents a threat to the Library, its equipment, and/or its occupants and users. The use of group study rooms is subject to library policy. See the Library Code of Conduct.
Reference Information and Services: The Reference department assists patrons in finding appropriate information and instructs patrons in the use of library materials and resources.
Reference staff do not collect personally identifiable information from users unless it is determined that follow-up contact would be helpful. The provision of such information on the part of a user is entirely voluntary.
Reference staff do not divulge the subject of information questions to others unless, in the opinion of the reference person, consultation with other staff of the Library is necessary to answer such questions in a timely and accurate manner.
Electronic reference questions are deleted once they are responded to.
Special Collections: The Special Collections department provides access to the specialized research materials in the Library, most of which is primary source material.
Special Collections staff do not record personally identifiable information of users unless there is a need for follow-up contact or for the purposes of making an appointment.
Some collections may have attached to them specific requirements for use, such as the presentation of proper identification.
Material in certain collections may have limits on who may access the information and the type of information that may be accessed.