The Van Wagenen Library is committed to protecting your privacy. We fully support the American Library Association’s position that “rights of privacy are necessary for intellectual freedom and are fundamental to the ethics and practice of librarianship.” (See the information boxes below for additional details about relevant provisions in New York State Law and the USA Patriot Act.)
Resources available through our website do not routinely gather personal information. The only time you will be asked for personal information is when you request a specific service, such as Interlibrary Loan. Any pieces of information collected as part of such transactions are for the use of the Library and will not be used for any commercial purposes. All information regarding our users is kept in confidence, subject to applicable state and federal laws.
NY CLS CPLR § 4509: "Library records, which contain names or other personally identifying details regarding the users of public, free association, school, college and university libraries and library systems of this state, including but not limited to records related to the circulation of library materials, computer database searches, interlibrary loan transactions, reference queries, requests for photocopies of library materials, title reserve requests, or the use of audio-visual materials, films or records, shall be confidential and shall not be disclosed except that such records may be disclosed to the extent necessary for the proper operation of such library and shall be disclosed upon request or consent of the user or pursuant to subpoena, court order or where otherwise required by statute."
In other words, this law means is that the information the Library gathers about our patrons for the purposes of checking out books, filling interlibrary loan requests, etc. is private and can only be shared on a very limited basis. Specifically, individual patrons can see their own information and give others permission to see it. Any other disclosure of personal information requires a properly executed court order.
Since the passage of the USA PATRIOT Act in October of 2001, there has been concern that libraries would no longer be able to protect the privacy of their patrons. The Library would like to assure its patrons that this is not the case. The Act makes it easier for law enforcement agencies to obtain search warrants and other court orders; it does not remove the requirement for them. The Library will not share information about our patrons without their consent unless compelled to do so by a properly executed court order.
There is one other change brought about by the USA PATRIOT Act that patrons need to be particularly aware of. It is now possible that a request for disclosure of information from a law enforcement agency could incorporate a “gag order.” If the Library receives a properly executed court order for information that includes this provision, we would be prohibited from discussing the request and any actions taken with regard to it. This prohibition extends to the patron. If the Library receives such an order, we can not notify the patron (or patrons) in question.