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Penn State University Libraries

Penn State University Libraries - User Privacy

Statement of Principle


The Penn State University Libraries affirms that our users’ privacy is essential to the intellectual and academic mission of the University and is committed to respecting user privacy in compliance with all federal and state laws and professional standards of confidentiality.  The Libraries will not release confidential information about individual users unless compelled by court order, subpoena or federal law.


Library Borrower Records


All records of materials borrowed, resources consulted and services provided by the Library are considered confidential and will not be released without permission unless required by law.  The library will maintain account information, such as borrowers’ home, campus and email addresses, University IDs or library card numbers and transactional information such as interlibrary loan requests and lists of current checkouts and fees.  Effective November, 2014, histories of materials borrowed from and returned to the Libraries will be maintained for no longer than three years. Borrowers may request copies of their own borrowing histories at library circulation desks. Account information for inactive borrowers is regularly purged from the Library database.


Computer and Internet Use


Computers and internet connections are provided to promote information access. All records and logs of individual user traffic, such as searches and sites visited, are considered confidential and will not be released unless required by law.   The Library reserves the right to inspect individual usage records if necessary to resolve problems with access or to investigate unauthorized activities such as transmitting offensive, obscene or harassing materials, violations of copyright or misuses of system resources.  The Libraries also collects and analyzes usage statistics of licensed commercial online resources to assess the impact of specific technologies and services.  


The Library supports and complies with the following:

American Library Association’s Code of Ethics:  www.ala.org/tools/atoz/libraryethics/libraryethics

Title 24 of the Pennsylvania Code §9375  Library circulation records –

"Records of the following institutions which relate to the circulation of library materials and contain the names or other personally identifying information of users of the materials shall be confidential and may not be made available to anyone except by a court order in a criminal proceeding:
(1)  The State Library.
(2)  A local library established or maintained under the provisions of this chapter.
(3)  The library of a university, college or educational institution chartered by the Commonwealth.
(4)  The library of a public school.
(5)  A library established and maintained under a law of this Commonwealth.
(6)  A branch reading room, deposit station or agency operated in connection with a library described in this section."