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Library Privacy Act

Library Privacy Act

18-9-1. Short title.
18-9-2. Purpose.
18-9-3. Definitions.
18-9-4. Release of patron records prohibited.
18-9-5. Exceptions.
18-9-6. Violations; civil liability.

§ 18-9-1 Short title.

This act [18-9-1 to 18-9-6 NMSA 1978] may be cited as the "Library Privacy Act".

History: Laws 1989, ch. 151, § 1.

§ 18-9-2 Purpose.

The purpose of the Library Privacy Act [18-9-1 to 18-9-6 NMSA 1978] is to preserve the intellectual freedom guaranteed by Sections 4 and 17 of Article 2 of the constitution of New Mexico by providing privacy for users of the public libraries of the state with respect to the library materials that they wish to use.

History: Laws 1989, ch. 151, § 2.

§ 18-9-3 Definitions.

As used in the Library Privacy Act [18-9-1 to 18-9-6 NMSA 1978]:
A. "library" includes any library receiving public funds, any library that is a state agency and any library established by the state, an instrumentality of the state, a local government, district or authority, whether or not that library is regularly open to the public; and
B. "patron record" means any document, record or other method of storing information retained by a library that identifies, or when combined with other available information identifies, a person as a patron of the library or that indicates use or request of materials from the library. "Patron record" includes patron registration information and circulation information that identifies specific patrons.

History: Laws 1989, ch. 151, § 3.

§ 18-9-4 Release of patron records prohibited.

Patron records shall not be disclosed or released to any person not a member of the library staff in the performance of his duties, except upon written consent of the person identified in the record, or except upon court order issued to the library. The library shall have the right to be represented by counsel at any hearing on disclosure or release of its patron records.

History: Laws 1989, ch. 151, § 4.

§ 18-9-5 Exceptions.

The prohibition on the release or disclosure of patron records in Section 4 [18-9-4 NMSA 1978] of the Library Privacy Act shall not apply to overdue notices or to the release or disclosure by school libraries to the legal guardian of the patron records of unemancipated minors or legally incapacitated persons.

History: Laws 1989, ch. 151, § 5.

§ 18-9-6 Violations; civil liability.

Any person who violates Section 4 [18-9-4 NMSA 1978] of the Library Privacy Act shall be subject to civil liability to the person identified in the released records for damages and costs of the action as determined by the court. History: Laws 1989, ch. 151, § 6.

What You Should Know About the USA PATRIOT Act

What you should know about the USA Patriot Act

The Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism, hereafter "the Act", was signed into law on 26 October 2001 and reauthorized on 9 March 2006. The information provided here addresses common questions about the Act, including its application to your library and you as a library patron.

· Download full-text of the USA PATRIOT Act (https://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c107:H.R.3162:)

· Download full-text of the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 (https://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/cpquery/R?cp109:FLD010:@1(hr333).


What kind of information can be requested from my library?

Under the USA PATRIOT Act, information about your library account and usage can be obtained by Federal Agents using a court order. The act prohibits library staff from informing you if such an order or search has been undertaken by means of a gag order. The FBI can retrieve any information about you that the library has. Information from the library may include, but is not limited to, books and other materials you have checked out; searches you have done on library computers, including places you have visited on the Internet; materials you have borrowed through interlibrary loan, when you have signed up to use library meeting rooms, and notes taken by librarians when helping you with a question.

What else is in the Act?

The Act is lengthy and has changed over 15 sections of the US Code. Besides libraries, there have been changes to the laws that govern banking, immigration, communication and business (including bookstores), as well as new penalties for terrorism. The full text of the Act (Public Law 107-56) is available on the Internet at the links listed above.

Will the Act expire?

Parts of the original Act, including Section 215 that impacts library privacy, had "sunset" provisions and were set to expire on 31 December 2005. Along with one other section, Section 215 has been reauthorized through 31 December 2014. The rest of the Act, including Section 505, is permanent and would have to be repealed by Congress.

What are the penalties for defying the USA PATRIOT Act?

A librarian who does not comply with an FBI search warrant issued under the Act may be charged with contempt of court. No specific penalty is spelled out in the Act.

How does the Act affect my library?

The Act, particularly Sections 215 and 505, does a number of things related to libraries. It:

· Lowers the legal standard for obtaining a search warrant, from "probable cause" that a crime is being committed, to "reasonable grounds" that the library information is "relevant" to an authorized terrorist or intelligence investigation (Section 215);

· Allows the FBI to get a special search warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court whose proceedings are classified andclosed to the public (Section 215);

· Permits the FBI to use special search warrants to retrieve library usage records of someonewho is under investigation of involvement in suspicious activities (Section 215);

· Overrides state and local privacy laws in the case of FISA search warrants (Section 215);

· Prohibits the library from notifying the patron under suspicion, the press, or anyone else thatan investigation is underway [note as part of the reauthorization of the Act, this prohibition may now be challenged in court one year after the warrant's issuance] (Section 215);

· Under special circumstances, allows the FBI to take records related to Internet usage without a warrant (Section 505).

Is a library exempt if the city passes a resolution against the Act?

These resolutions are largely symbolic, though there is at least one town in California that has made it a crime to comply with the Act. In this case, federal law is more powerful than state or local resolutions, so your library would still have to comply.

The state has a privacy law for library records. Does it protect me from the Act?

In the case of FBI search warrants issued under the Act, state privacy laws do not apply. However, state and local privacy laws are still in effect for other investigations that are not being performed under the authority of the Act.