Patron Privacy & Confidentiality of Library Records 

Patron Privacy

Mount Carmel Public Library makes every effort to protect the privacy of library users. The library is guided by Tennessee State law regarding the privacy of patrons of the library, specifically Title 10, Chapter 8 of the Tennessee Code Annotated; Confidentiality of Library Records. 

The code reads as follows: No employee of a library shall disclose any library record that identifies a person as having requested or obtained specific materials, information, or services or as having otherwise used such a library.

Mount Carmel Public Library also adheres to the American Library Association Code of Ethics that states in Article III: 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.

This policy establishes guidelines for the protection of personally identifiable information contained in library records or accessible in the library or through its computer systems.

Confidentiality of Library Records

Mount Carmel Public Library staff will not respond to any request by a third party for personally identifiable information about any library user. Such information includes database search records, reference interviews, email requests for information, circulation records, interlibrary loan records, and other personally identifiable uses of library materials, facilities, or services. Personally identifiable information may be released only to a law enforcement agency after presentation of an order by a court of competent jurisdiction issued in proper form (a court issued subpoena or search warrant) and/or under the provisions of the USA Patriot Act.

Personally Identifiable Information

Circulation Records: Mount Carmel Public Library will collect only the information needed to contact library users, such as mailing address, email address, phone number, etc., in order to ensure the proper notification, lending, and return of library materials and the collection of fines. Records will be retained for the shortest length of time necessary to facilitate library operations.

Library cardholders submit their name, email address, postal address, telephone number or other identifying information in order to receive library services such as borrowing privileges, access to internet stations, receiving personal responses to questions, receiving library promotional materials, or being added to specific mailing lists. The library does not sell, rent or otherwise distribute information to outside parties except for possible uses related to the recovery of materials, and then in the most restrictive way possible to accomplish their purpose.

Reference questions are retained only for the purpose of statistics and to assist with follow up queries from library users. The questions themselves and any personal information such as names, email addresses, telephone and fax numbers submitted with the questions are confidential and are treated as other library user information under provisions of the Confidentiality of Library Records policy above. Email questions will be deleted on a regular basis.

Searches of the online public access catalog (OPAC): The library does not require personal information to use the OPAC. Once a search is completed, a patron may clear their own search history. The search history is also erased automatically whenever the computer is restarted. 

Interlibrary Loan Records: Patrons may borrow items not owned by the Mount Carmel Public Library from other libraries within Tennessee and nationally. Interlibrary loan records will be retained for the shortest length of time necessary to facilitate library operations and will be kept confidential and be destroyed.

Reference Interviews: A reference interview occurs when a patron looking for information approaches a library staff member, who interviews the patron in order to narrow down the specific information needed. Patron information will be retained for the shortest length of time necessary to facilitate reference services. Written patron information will be kept confidential and be destroyed.

Public Relations and Social Media

The library maintains a dedicated web site and other related social media accounts. The library may post pictures or videos of library programs and events on these sites in order to promote the events themselves or to promote the library in general. 

The library may also select photographs of events for promotional purposes in print media adhering to the same privacy criteria.

Approved by the Mount Carmel Board of Trustees March 13, 2023