The Halifax Regional Library Board recognizes its responsibility to its employees and to members of the public to preserve the confidentiality of information entrusted to its care.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms upholds freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression. In support of this principle, Halifax Public Libraries protects the privacy of individuals by maintaining confidentiality of customer records and transactions in any medium (print, electronic, etc). Halifax Public Libraries staff, when library users, have the same protection for personal privacy as any other library users.
This policy is interpreted to include, but is not restricted to, all information pertaining to the customer’s use of the library:
- customer information
- databases and other files or materials consulted
- Computer / Internet use
- number and/or character of questions asked
- number and/or character of library programs attended
Such information will be provided from Administration, by the Director or designate, only if a subpoena or court order is presented or an adult customer gives written consent; or a minor customer’s parent/guardian gives written consent; or if the information is required to ensure the safety of library staff and / or library customers and members of the public, to protect library property, to enforce library policy.
If the information being requested is only whether or not an individual was in the library at a certain time, and in the judgement of the Branch Manager the safety of that individual or others may be at risk, or there are compassionate reasons, they (or their designate) may provide this information to a police officer and follow up immediately with an incident report to Administration.
Under no circumstances will any information be given over the telephone.
Notwithstanding the above, libraries are public buildings and confidentiality of records does not guarantee anonymity. Library staff will not prevent police officers entering branches to search for / question / apprehend individuals in the course of an investigation.
Customers must provide their Library cards in order to access their records; if the customer does not have her Library card with her, acceptable identification is required.
The Library supports the Canadian Federation of Library Associations’ Code of Ethics and Library staff have the responsibility to “protect the privacy and dignity of library users and staff” by respecting the confidential nature of customer records and interactions.
- Only those staff who are authorized to do so may alter the record of a patron or fellow employee.
- Staff will view customer records only as required to perform appropriate library functions.
- Staff may not use their knowledge of the software to perform unauthorized functions. An employee who does so will be subject to disciplinary action.
- Information relating to a library customer may only be used by library staff working within the scope of their duties and staff will do so in a responsible fashion to ensure the privacy of the customer.
Parental Access to Children’s Library Records
- Parents/legal guardians will be provided access to library records for children 0-13 when requested and the branch supervisor has confirmed the identity of the parent or guardian and the age of the minor.
- Parents/legal guardians will be given access to library records for young people ages 14-18, only after the policy on customer confidentiality is explained and the branch supervisor has confirmed the identity of the parent or guardian and the age of the minor.
Any other requests for information regarding a minor’s use of the library not covered by this policy will be handled according to the Youth Conduct and Safety in the Library Policy.
Revised: February 12, 2019.