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Patron Privacy Policy

Chapter: Circulation
Policy Number: 2.05
Original Effective Date: 8/18/04
Revision History: 4/16/20, 6/16/21

Privacy Statement

Protecting Library user privacy and keeping confidential information that identifies or associates individuals with their use of Library books, materials, equipment, programs, services, facilities and/or staff assistance is an important principle of the Library. This policy affirms the Library’s commitment to privacy, explains the information that the Library collects, and alerts visitors to Library facilities and users of remotely accessed Library services of the privacy choices available to them.

Definition of Terms

  • Privacy is the right to seek information through Library resources without having the subject of interest known or examined by others without consent.
  • Personally identifying information is information such as name, Library card number, email or mailing address, telephone number, or any financial information relating to a patron and their accounts.

Legal Protections and Exceptions

Wisconsin law has strong protections in place to assist the Library in keeping records confidential.  In certain circumstances, Library records may be subject to disclosure to law enforcement officials under provisions of state law or federal law under the provisions of the USA Patriot Act (Public Law 107-56).  In accordance with the USA Patriot Act, public libraries must allow an immediate search and possible seizure of equipment or information if presented with a FBI National Security Letter or Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Warrant.

The relevant Wisconsin laws concerning the confidentiality of Library records are Wisconsin Statutes Section 43.30 and the Wisconsin Personal Information Practices Law (Wisconsin Statutes Sections 19.62 to 19.80). Library records include any record of use of Library materials, resources, or services.

Wisconsin Statutes Section 43.30 requires that Library records may only be disclosed under the following circumstances:

  • With the consent of the individual Library user.
  • To a custodial parent or legal guardian of a juvenile under 16 years of age.
  • By court order. 
  • Upon the request of a law enforcement officer who is investigating criminal conduct alleged to have occurred at the Library. In this instance, the Library shall disclose all records pertinent to the alleged criminal conduct that were produced by a surveillance device under the control of the Library.
  • If a Library requests the assistance of a law enforcement officer, and the Library Director determines that records produced by a surveillance device under the control of the Library may assist the law enforcement officer to render the requested assistance, the Library may disclose the records to the law enforcement officer.
  • To persons acting within the scope of their duties in the administration of the Library or Library system.
  • To other libraries for interlibrary loan purposes.
  • To a qualifying third party[1] to assist with delinquent accounts.  Under the provisions of the law, the Library may only disclose the individual’s name, contact information and the number, types, and the amount owed to the Library, not the titles of the items.

Library Records

The Library avoids creating unnecessary records and retaining records longer than needed for Library business purposes.

To receive a Library card, Library users are required to provide identifying information such as name, birth date, photo identification, and mailing address. The identifying information is retained as long as the Library user continues to use the Library card. In most cases, the information will be in the database for a maximum of three years after the Library card expires, at which time the record is deleted.

A Library user’s circulation record includes current identifying information, items currently checked out[2] or on hold, as well as overdue materials and fines.

Ninety days after an item is returned, the Library System removes the information regarding the last patron to check it out which deletes the patron from the item history log. If the item had associated fines, the fine transactions are saved.  

The Library may also gather information necessary to provide a requested service to a Library user including, but not limited, to the following examples:

  • Records of electronic access information such as the Library card or guest pass number used to log onto Library public computers or search a Library database
  • Records for interlibrary loan requests or reference services
  • Records needed to sign up for or participate in Library classes and programs
  • Records for use of meeting rooms
  • Records for receiving emails and/or text messages about Library services and programs
  • Records for registration and services related to home delivery
  • Records of volunteer registration and activities

Once there is no longer a need for the information, personally identifying records are destroyed. Emails sent to the Library and/or Library staff may be subject to the requirements of Wisconsin’s Public Records Law (Wisconsin Statutes Sections 19.31 to 19.37).

The Library treats records as confidential in accordance with Wisconsin Statutes Section 43.30. The Library will not collect or retain private and personally identifying information without the person’s consent. If consent to provide personally identifying information is given, the Library will keep it confidential and will not sell, license, or disclose it to any third party, except for purposes described by the law.  

Access to Accounts and Patron Responsibility

Protecting a Patron Account

It is the patron’s responsibility to notify the Library immediately if a Library card is lost or stolen or if he or she believes someone is using the card or card number without permission. 

Keeping Account Information Up-To-Date

A patron may access their personally identifying information held by the Library and is responsible for keeping the information accurate and up-to-date. The purpose of accessing and updating personally identifying information is to ensure that Library operations can function properly. A patron may view or update their personal information in person. They will be asked to provide identification.

Parents and Children

Parents seeking records of their minor children under the age 16 may be asked to provide proof of their child’s age as well as evidence they are the custodial parent.  According to Wisconsin Statutes Section 43.30(1b)(ag) “Custodial parent” includes any parent other than a parent who has been denied periods of physical placement with a child under Wisconsin Statutes Section 767.41(4).

Items on hold

Patrons of any age may choose to have other people pick up their holds. Holds may only be checked out on the card on which the hold was placed. Patrons picking up holds for another person must present the card of the patron who has materials on hold.

Public Computer Use and the Library’s Automation Systems

The Library routinely and regularly purges information that may be linked to Library users, such as information from web servers, mail servers, computer time management software, interlibrary loan requests, and other Library information gathered or stored in electronic format.

The Library System maintains the online catalog and a number of databases. The Library System automatically collects and maintains statistical information about Library users’ visits to the Library catalog and databases. This information includes the Internet Protocol (IP) address of the visitor, the computer and web browser type, the pages used, the time and date and any errors that occurred. This information is used for internal reporting purposes and individual users are not identified. Network traffic is monitored to identify unauthorized attempts to upload or otherwise damage the web service. If a Library user chooses to pay fines and fees via credit card, the credit card number is not stored in the user’s Library account; it is simply passed through to the third party payment processor.


The Library’s website contains links to other sites including third party vendor sites. The Library is not responsible for the privacy practices of other sites which may be different from the privacy practices described in this policy. The Library encourages Library users to become familiar with privacy policies of other sites visited, including linked sites. 

The Library website does not collect personally identifying information from visitors to the website unless the patron requests a service via the Library website. The Library may collect non-personal information from visitors to the website for statistical analysis, site assessment, server performance, authentication, troubleshooting and other management purposes.  Examples of non-personal information collected include IP address of the computer, the type and version of browser and operating system the computer uses, geographical location of the network used to link to the Library’s site, and time and date of the access. There is no link to personally identifying information in computer communications, unless a patron has provided that information in the content of a transaction, for example, filling out an online form to request a service. 

The Library uses temporary “cookies” to maintain authentication when a patron is logged in to the online catalog.  A “cookie” is a small text file that is sent to a user’s browser from a website. The cookie itself does not contain any personally identifying information. Other electronic services offered by the Library through third party vendors may use “cookies” to help control browser sessions. Websites may use the record of “cookies” to see how the website is being accessed and when, but not by whom. 

Library database users are asked for their Library card number to ensure that only authorized users have access. Database vendors do not have access to any user records or information. 

The Library and the Library System work with a variety of partners to provide e-content (e.g. e-books, e-audios, e-music, e-videos, e-magazines) to users. Prior to checking out any of the Library’s e-content users should read the privacy policy of the company that is providing the service. 

Wireless Access

The Library offers free wireless access (Wi-Fi) for Library patrons to use with their own mobile devices. The Library’s Internet Use Policy governs this service.

As with most public wireless connections, the Library’s wireless connection is not secure. Any information being transmitted could potentially be intercepted by another wireless user. Cautious and informed wireless users should choose not to transmit personal information (credit card numbers, passwords and any other sensitive information) while using any unsecured wireless connection. Use of the Library’s wireless network is entirely at the risk of the user. The Library disclaims all liability for loss of confidential information or damages resulting from that loss.

Other services

Some patrons may choose to take advantage of RSS feeds from the Library’s website, hold and overdue notices via email or text message, and similar services that send personally identifying information related to Library use via public communication networks. Patrons should also be aware that the Library has limited ability to protect the privacy of this information once it is outside the Library’s control. Patrons using these other services consent to receiving communications from the Library via public communication networks. The Library disclaims all liability for loss of confidential information or damages resulting from the use of these public communication networks.

Library Photos

Patrons may be photographed at the Library and those photos may be posted to the website, social media, or used in promotions.  Patrons are advised to notify Library staff members if they do not wish to be in photographs.

Video Surveillance

In order to maintain a safe and secure Library, selected public areas of the Library premises are under continuous video surveillance and recording. Images from the Library surveillance system are stored digitally on hardware at the Village of Menomonee Falls. It is the intent of the Library to retain all recorded images for a maximum of seven days. Images may be monitored in real-time, and reviewed by Library staff. 

Video surveillance data are considered to be protected public Library records. State Statutes carefully define law enforcement officials’ authority to view surveillance data, and the Library will cooperate with law enforcement officials as permitted by Wisconsin Statutes Chapter 43.30(5) in two specific circumstances:

  • Upon the request of a law enforcement officer who is investigating criminal conduct alleged to have occurred at a Library supported in whole or in part by public funds, the Library shall disclose to the law enforcement officer all records pertinent to the alleged criminal conduct that were produced by a surveillance device under the control of the Library.
  • If the Library requests the assistance of a law enforcement officer, and the Library Director determines that records produced by a surveillance device under the control of the Library may assist the law enforcement officer to render the requested assistance, the Library may disclose the records to the law enforcement officer.

Illegal activity prohibited and not protected

Patrons may conduct only legal activity while using Library resources and services. Nothing in this policy prevents the Library from exercising its right to enforce its policies on patron behavior and conduct, protect its facilities, network and equipment from harm, or prevent the use of Library facilities and equipment for illegal purposes. The Library can electronically log activity to monitor its public computers and external access to its network and reserves the right to review such logs when a violation of law or Library policy is suspected. Staff is authorized to take immediate action to protect the security of Library patrons, staff, facilities, computers, the network, and the general public. This includes contacting law enforcement authorities and providing information that may identify the individual(s) suspected of a violation.

Enforcement and redress

Patrons with questions, concerns, or complaints about the handling of their personally identifying information or this policy may file written comments with the Library Director.  A response will be sent in a timely manner and the Library may conduct an investigation or review of practices and procedures. The Library conducts such reviews as necessary to ensure compliance with the principles outlined in this policy.

The Library will not make Library records available to any agency of state, federal, or local government unless a subpoena, warrant, court order, or other investigatory document is issued by a court of competent jurisdiction, showing good cause and in proper form, or unless the request complies with Wisconsin Public Records Law.

The Director is custodian of Library records and is authorized to receive or comply with public records requests or inquiries from law enforcement officers and the general public. The Director may delegate this authority to designated members of the Library’s management team. The Director may confer with the Municipal Attorney before determining the proper response to any request for records. Library staff is trained to refer any law enforcement inquiries to the Director.

[1] Qualifying third parties are:

  • a collection agency
  • a law enforcement agency, but only if the dollar value of the individual’s delinquent account is at least $50.

[2] Patron records show current checkouts.  When an item is returned, it is removed from the patron’s checkout list.  However, patrons who sign up for the reading history service will have their checkout history saved instead of purged. Patrons must opt-in for their reading history to begin being stored. Only outreach patrons automatically have their history recorded.  The user has the option to turn off the service and delete their reading history at any time. Titles of holds, overdue, or almost overdue materials are retained in the account for a period of 180 days.