Date: Mon, 06 Oct 2003 10:51:14 -0500
* The All-Staff Mailing List *
We've made a slight revision to our policy on requests for patron or other
private information, so I wanted to send it to you again. The revision
reminds us that University employees may make these requests on behalf of
A PDF version of this message, which may be easier to print and read, is
available at: "http://staff.lib.umn.edu/computers/policies/ul-rfpi.pdf"
Circulation and patron records at the University of Minnesota are private
information and should not be divulged to anyone who does not need that
information as part of their job in the University Libraries, unless
authorized by the patron or required by law. It is important to recognize
that law enforcement agencies have the authority to compel disclosure of
this kind of information through court orders or search warrants, and that
the University must comply with those demands.
The University Librarian will be responsible for handling law
enforcement requests. If anyone approaches you alleging to be
a law enforcement official or someone acting on behalf of a
law enforcement official and requests private information,
do not disclose any information; instead direct the request
to the University Librarian. If they present a subpoena, direct
the person or the paper to the University Librarian (499 Wilson),
who will in turn direct it immediately to the Office of the
General Counsel. If they present a warrant, do not interfere
with their search and seizure, but do notify the University
Librarian as soon as possible.
What do I do if an officer orally requests information, without any
Oral requests, without any supporting documentation, are not sufficient to
compel disclosure of private information. If a law enforcement officer asks
orally for information, explain to the person that you can¹t provide the
information but will contact the University Librarian immediately for
assistance. The University Librarian can then work with the officer and the
Office of the General Counsel to determine what is needed to authorize
disclosure of the information.
What do I do if an officer or an agent presents a search warrant or other
legal document demanding the information?
If you are presented with a search warrant or other court order, be
cooperative, explain to the officer or agent that you would like to contact
the University Librarian to assist you. If he or she agrees to wait,
immediately contact the University Librarian. If the officer or agent
refuses to wait and has a search warrant, permit the officer or agent to go
forward with his or her search and provide any assistance demanded, but
explain that you still must call the University Librarian and immediately do
so. Remember, the University has no right to demand that law enforcement
officers wait for information when they have a search warrant. Based on the
University¹s experience in other areas, however, law enforcement officers
will work with you cooperatively and courteously in handling these demands
What if the person is not an officer, but is a University employee who
claims to be acting on behalf of law enforcement?
Some University employees, particularly some employees of the Office of
Information Technology (OIT), do respond to law enforcement requests as part
of their job. They may request information or equipment as part of their
effort to preserve evidence when they are directed to do so by law
enforcement. Any request from such an employee should be directed to the
Can I tell anyone else about a search warrant?
Some search warrants direct recipients not to disclose its existence to
anyone else. Even in these cases it is OK to notify the University Librarian
and you should do so. Don¹t tell anyone other than the University Librarian
about the warrant unless you are authorized by the officer or the University
Librarian to do so.
How, exactly, are we to contact the University Librarian? What if she is out
of the office?
A call to the Assistant to the University Librarian at 4-1807 is your best
bet. She will know whether the University Librarian is in or out, how to
reach her, and who may be filling in as interim UL in her absence. 4-1807
will roll over to the 499 Wilson reception desk.
Who should we contact during hours when 499 Wilson is closed?
If you receive a request during hours that the University Librarians Office
is closed, then contact your supervisor. Supervisors have information about
how to reach the University Librarian after hours. You can always ask the
officer if it can wait until the next day‹again, just try to work
cooperatively with the officer.
Why are we being reminded of this now? Isn¹t this our regular policy?
True, nothing has changed with regard to our policy. However, a lot has
changed in the world since September 2001 and we thought a reminder that our
existing practice should continue was worthwhile. The new federal USA
PATRIOT Act makes it somewhat easier for this kind of inquiry to occur. We
want you to remind you that if you get any inquiries from law enforcement,
you should be cooperative and you must consult with the University
I¹m concerned about terrorists. Does this policy mean that the Libraries
will not share important information with the FBI?
Not at all. The University of Minnesota and the University Libraries will
cooperate with all legal requests for information. However, the Libraries
must make sure that we inform and receive advice from the University¹s
Office of General Counsel concerning any request, to ensure that we are
complying with the law. The laws governing privacy and law enforcement
investigations can be complex, and we don¹t expect them to be invoked often.
To ensure consistent, thorough, and lawful responses, we must take care of
such requests centrally.
If you have questions about this policy, please contact the University
Librarian at 612-624-1807.