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From a circulation desk: Should it refuse to give any patron information to anyone, even law enforcement personnel,
without a subpoena?
There are two bibliographies for this question.
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To: Mary Minow
From: Andrew Gurthet
Re: Library Record Confidentiality
Question: From a circulation desk: Should it refuse to give any patron information to anyone,
even law enforcement personnel, without a subpoena?
This question is vague in that it does not specify the type of library in question: public, semi-private or private.
For purposes of this question, I strictly focused upon public libraries. I also focused upon California law, except
those federal statutes and cases that may potentially impact a California public library in regards to this issue.
Statutory Resources: California and federal statutes which may potentially apply include:
California Information Practices Act. California Civil Code sec. 1798 et seq.
- California Public Records Act. California Government Code sec. 6250 et seq.
One statutes within this act is directly on point. Specifically, "Libraries supported by public funds; registration and circulation records; confidentiality; exceptions." California Government Code sec. 6267.
- California Constitution, Art. I, Sec. 1
- Freedom of Information Act / Sunshine Act. 5 U.S.C. sec. 552 et seq.
California Code of Regulations:
- Disclosure of Public Records, 17 California Code of Regulations sec. 91000 et seq.
Law Review Articles: Law reviews worth looking at include:
- California's Privacy Act: Controlling Government's Use of Information? 32 Stanford Law Review 1001
- Brown v. Johnston: The Unexamined Issue of Privacy in Public Library Circulation Records in Iowa. 69 Iowa Law Review 535
- Access to Government Information in California. 54 California Law Review 1650
- Information Privacy and Public Records. 8 Pacific Law Journal 25
- California Public Records Act. 4 Golden Gate University Law Review 203
- Privacy: To be or not to be, that is the question. 10 Pacifica Law Journal 663
California Practice Guides / Encyclopedic Resources:
Relevant information that may be found in the various California practice guides and general legal encyclopedias include:
- Witkins Summary of California Law:
- Invasion of Privacy. Const. Law sec. 305 et seq.
- Information Practices Act. Const. Law sec. 472
- Public Disclosure of Private Fact. Torts sec. 582
- Privacy under California Constitution. Const. Law sec. 454
- Privacy under federal Constitution. Const. Law sec. 454
- Privileged information. Torts 278
- Bancroft-Whitney's California Civil Practice, Civil Rights Litigation. Right to Privacy; Generally, Civ. R. sec. 1:2, 6:1 et seq.
- Bancroft-Whitney's California Civil Practice, Torts. Invasion of Privacy. Generally, Torts sec. 20:1 et seq.
- C.J.S. Constitutional Law, sec. 444 et seq., 460, and 619 et seq. (constitutional matters regarding privacy and confidentiality)
- C.J.S. Records sec. 86 (generally)
- C.J.S. Right of Privacy sec. 26 (public records)
- Am. Jur. 2d. Freedom of Information Acts sec. 66 (library materials)
I was only able to find one case directly on point affecting California public libraries.
I was, however, able to find one California case on a related issue and several cases regarding
confidentiality of library records in other jurisdictions.
- SDC Development Corp. v. Mathews (CA9 Cal) 542 F2d. 1116
- State Board of Equalization v. Superior Court (App. 3 Dist 1992) 10 Cal. App. 4th 1177
- Brown v. Johnston (Iowa Sup. Ct. 1983) 328 N.W.2d 510
- Tacoma Public Library v. Woessner (Wash. App. 2 Dist 1998) 951 P2d 357