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Policy for Responding to Requests for Access to Library Records - Responding to requests for information from law enforcement or other government agencies

The Smathers Libraries follow a longstanding tradition of maintaining the confidentiality of library records as provided under Section 257.261 of the Florida Statutes. Recent federal legislation reflecting increased concerns about national security has required us to review how we implement these traditions. Library staff may be approached and asked for information about patrons and the materials they are using. In such cases, the following guidelines should be followed:

1. Request proper identification from anyone who seeks information about what library materials or electronic information a patron has borrowed or used. Such information will not be disclosed to anyone without legal authorization and proper identification.

2. Unless required by a valid subpoena, search warrant, or other court order, the library generally may not disclose information about what library materials or electronic information a patron has used or is currently using. Staff should NOT furnish such information to any person requesting it without a valid subpoena, search warrant, or other court order. If the person persists, refer him or her to the Director of Libraries at 273-2505. Staff should call the Office of the Director of Libraries immediately to alert them about the referral.

3. Individuals who have a subpoena, search warrant, or other court order should be referred immediately to the Director of Libraries at 273-2505. Staff should call the Office of the Director of Libraries immediately about the referral. Staff should NOT furnish information to any person in response to a subpoena, search warrant, or other court order directed to the University of Florida or the Smathers Libraries. The Office of the Director of Libraries will respond, working under guidelines of and in concert with the Office of the General Counsel of the University.

4. If a federal law enforcement or government official demands immediate compliance with a subpoena, search warrant, or other court order, and if the Office of the Director of Libraries is closed or unavailable, staff should contact the University Police Department at 392-1111 and ask to speak with a shift supervisor to verify the credentials of the requesting official and the need for immediate compliance. UPD will assist in attempting to contact the Director of Libraries and the Office of the General Counsel before any information may be released.

George A. Smathers Libraries & General Counsel’s Office
June, 2003

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