Patron Record Confidentiality

The Ohio State University Libraries supports the American Library Association's statement on "Confidentiality of Library Records." Confidentiality extends to "information sought or received, and materials consulted, borrowed, acquired," and includes database search records, reference interviews, circulation records (including those of closed reserve), interlibrary loan records and other personally identifiable uses of library materials, facilities, or services. All information regarding library patrons and materials checked out to them is confidential and is not to be made available to any individual or agency of the state, federal or local government except under issuance of a court order or as otherwise required by law. Any individual or agency seeking such information should be referred to the Director of Libraries.
Library employees may not use or access the information contained in patron records except for authorized work-related purposes. Some examples of unauthorized uses of patron records follow, but this list is designed as a guide and is not exhaustive. If you have questions about accessing patron records or about a request from anyone else, ask your supervisor first.

  1. Employees are prohibited from revealing the identity of a patron to whom any item is checked out, or to whom it was previously checked out.
  2. Employees are prohibited from revealing circulation information relative to which students in a class did or did not check out items that were on closed reserve to anyone, including the class professor.
  3. Employees are prohibited from providing information contained in or attached to a patron record to any person except a library employee who has a legitimate work-related purpose or to the patron who presents photo identification. This includes (but is not limited to) fine balances, claim returned or block/sanction information, specific number of or list of items checked out or generalized topics of materials checked out. Any patron who wishes to have a copy of his/her own patron record can access it using the "View the patron record? feature of OSCAR.
  4. Employees who have password authority to update a patron record are prohibited from including unauthorized or inappropriate messages, notes, blocks, etc.
  5. Employees are prohibited from "browsing" the database, to check out materials not specifically requested by the patron or to inappropriately alter a hold queue. Employees may access patron records for authorized work-related purposes only.

It is The Ohio State University Libraries' policy that misuse of information contained in the Libraries' patron database will result in disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.

Last modified: 12/08/00