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Library Policies: Confidentiality

Your Right to Privacy

"CONFIDENTIAL" stamp​MWCC Library adheres to the American Library Association Code of Ethics, which includes the following statement: “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.” MWCC Library also follows the Massachusetts General Law Chapter 78, Section 7, which states “that part of the records of a public library which reveals the identity and intellectual pursuits of a person using such library shall not be a public record.” MWCC Library staff strive to protect the confidentiality of each library user’s records. No staff member shall, at any time, disclose any personally identifiable library user records including, but not limited to, circulation records, patron registration records, patron e-mail and computer records, interlibrary loan requests, or reference requests, to any person other than the library users themselves unless:

  1. The library patron has given informed consent (in writing) for another individual to obtain that information; OR
  2. An authorized person (MWCC staff member) requires that information for retrieval of overdue library materials or compensation for damaged or lost library materials; OR
  3. A law enforcement official makes the request. See below for “Information about the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001.” Library staff are instructed to respond to requests from law enforcement in a very specific manner. Instructions for library staff are included in the Circulation Desk Procedure Manual.

Information about the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001


The USA PATRIOT Act (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act) expands federal law enforcement’s ability to find out about telephone and electronic communications and to obtain “tangible things,” such as documents and records. Library circulation records, interlibrary loan requests, use of public computers for the Internet, e-mail or chat are records that could be subpoenaed. MWCC Library staff have a prescribed response to requests for information about library users. To learn more about the PATRIOT Act, visit the American Library Association web page (link below) for more information about how the PATRIOT Act affects libraries. The following is a description of library records and the processes by which the library protects each library user’s information:

CATALOG SEARCH RECORDS 

These records refer to the searches of the collection a user may conduct in the Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC). Once a search is conducted, the software does not retain a copy of the search. Any records of the search do not exist.

CIRCULATION RECORDS 

Library material is circulated via the Evergreen Circulation System. The circulation software retains records of materials currently checked out, automatically erasing a reader’s borrowing record once a book is returned and all fines are paid.

COMPUTER USE RECORDS

Library users may use any of the public computers  in the Library, and must log-in with each use. The college does comply with the state mandated protocol for maintaining firewall reports.


REFERENCE INTERVIEWS

A reference interview occurs when a library user looking for information approaches a library staff member and the staff interviews the patron in order to determine the specific information needed. No print record of the interview is retained. If a library user’s name and number is taken by phone, and a library user’s information is recorded, as soon as the requested information is delivered, the paper record is destroyed. Requests for information via e-mail are deleted once the transaction is completed.

PLEASE CONTACT US IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS

Mount Wachusett Community College Home Page

Circulation Desk 978-630-9125 Email the Circulation Desk
Research Help Desk 978-630-9338 Email the Research Help Desk
Academic Support Center 978-630-9333 Email the Academic Support Center
LIVE CHAT ASSISTANCE is available during regular LIBRARY HOURS.