Library Privacy Policy

The Mount Holyoke College Library protects the privacy of those who use the library. Staff members and student workers shall protect registration information about borrowers, their requests for information and materials, and their loan transactions. Law prohibits us from giving out any information regarding a patron's library account to ANY other person regardless of their status or identity, without a subpoena, search warrant, or court order. For more information, consult the USA PATRIOT Act section in this document.

Patron Record Privacy

A library registration record is created for each patron. The record contains the borrower's name, address, and other identifying information. This information is used only for library circulation purposes. The library's circulation function temporarily links a patron with the library materials he or she has checked out. For each item checked out to a patron, the library maintains the following information:

  • Item specific details such as the author, title, call number, and barcode number.
  • The date charged, loan period, and the date due.
  • The number of renewals and the date of the last renewal.

Staff or students working at the Mount Holyoke College Library will NOT disclose the following:

  • The name of a patron who has a particular item checked out.
  • The titles that are checked out to a particular patron.
  • Personal information of any patron (address, phone number, email, etc).
  • Identify a patron who has checked out a particular item or describe them in any other way.

Staff or students MAY disclose the following:

  • Give the due date of a particular item.
  • Recall any checked out item (with the exception of reserve material).

Information Regarding Privacy Issues from the American Library Association

The Library encourages you to explore the ALA web site for more information.

  • Office for Intellectual Freedom Home Page
  • Questions and Answers on Privacy and Confidentiality
  • ALA's Washington Office

USA Patriot Act

On October 25, 2001, Congress passed the "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism" (USA PATRIOT) Act. The act broadly expands law enforcement's surveillance and investigative powers.

  • H.R.3162
  • The USA Patriot Act in the Library (ALA-OIF)
  • Additional information from ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom

How is the Library responding to the USA PATRIOT Act?

The USA PATRIOT Act overrides state library confidentiality laws protecting library records and the library will comply with it. The library's policy relating to privacy and confidentiality of information has not changed as a result of the act.

What is the "gag" provision of the USA PATRIOT Act?
Libraries or librarians served with a search warrant issued under FISA (Foreign Intelligence Security Act) rules may not disclose, under penalty of law, the existence of the warrant or the fact that records were produced as a result of the warrant. Staff cannot tell a patron that his or her records were given to the FBI or that he or she is the subject of an FBI investigation, nor speak to coworkers, the media or other government officials about the inquiry. Such requests can be reported to a higher authority within the library and the Office of the President only.