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Confidentiality of Library User Records

Procedures

Process

  • Subpoenas and other documents issued by a court should be delivered by the server to the Office of Legal Affairs, not to the library.
  • If approached by a law enforcement officer or prosecutor wishing access to user records, library staff should not respond immediately, but should refer the officer or prosecutor to the person in charge of the library at that time. The requestor must show a subpoena, process, or court order.

Chain of Command

  • Library Director or Associate Library Director should be informed of the request and will will speak with the officer or prosecutor ro ask for a process, subpoena or court order.
  • Office of Legal Affairs (210) 567-2020 should be contacted for handling and further instructions.

Compliance with an Order

  • The Office of Legal Affairs will verify that the order is in proper form and has been issued with sufficient cause.
  • If no valid papers are presented, the library may refuse to turn over requested records but this determination should be made in consultation with the Office of Legal Affairs.
  • If the subpoena or court order is found to be valid, library staff will produce all records covered in the scope of that order.
  • Staff should follow the subpoena strictly and should not provide any records that are not specifically requested in the legal document.
  • It should be noted that because of the university’s records retention policy, limited retention of circulation records and routine maintenance of equipment such as computer hard disks, requested records may no longer be available. Once a valid legal request for a library use record has been made, if the record or records still exist, then the record should be retained and not destroyed.

"Gag" Order

  • Requests for library user records issued under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), as amended by the USA PATRIOT Act, may contain a “gag” order: the request must be kept confidential and staff may not discuss the incident except with a supervisor, the Senior Director of Libraries or the director’s representative, and the Office of Legal Affairs.
  • No information about the request may be disclosed to any other party including the library user whose records are the subject of the search.
  • Staff may not provide a web browser history to anyone unless directed to do so by the Office of Legal Affairs.