Privacy policy


The records of patron use of Library resources, materials or services are confidential per the laws of the State of New Jersey (see footnote #1).  In accordance with the American Library Association’s Code of Ethics (see footnote #2), the staff and Trustees of the Mahwah Public Library recognize the need to protect library users’ right to confidentiality regarding the questions asked and the materials borrowed. 

All records concerning library users and materials used or checked out by users are confidential and will not be made available to any other person or agency of the federal, state, county or local governments unless a court order, subpoena or search warrant requiring disclosure has been entered by a court of competent jurisdiction or persons acting within the scope of their duties in the administration of the library.

Patriot Act

As a public institution, the Library is legally required to comply with information requests pursuant to the USA Patriot Act (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruction Terrorism Act, P.L. 107-56, Oct 26, 2001). In providing information pursuant to this act or by other court order, the Library shall follow the following procedures. 

Under the USA Patriot Act, the person whose records are subject to a search warrant may not be notified that a search warrant has been served. A supervisor or the Library’s attorney may be contacted without a violation of the act. Staff shall not inform anyone else of the existence of the search warrant.

The act absolves all institutions and employees from any liability for releasing personal information in compliance with a FISA search warrant. If a staff member fails to comply with an information request, or if information respecting a search warrant is disclosed other than to a supervisor or the Library’s attorney, the staff member may be held legally liable for such failure to comply, including being charged with contempt of court.

If any staff member has any questions concerning this policy, he/she should direct their questions to the Library Director. The Library Director, after consulting with the Library’s attorney, will respond to the inquiry.


  1. Staff should be trained and required to report any threats or unauthorized demands concerning circulation and other records to the director (e.g., if the demands are not supported by a search warrant, subpoena issued by a court or a court order).
  2. Every request for information relating to circulation or other records identifying the names of library users must be referred to the Director or Supervising Librarian, who shall explain the confidentiality policy. For example, if a staff member receives a request for a library record, the staff member should immediately refer the request to the library director or the director’s designee.
  3. If the library receives a search warrant, the director should allow the search to proceed immediately.
  4. The director, upon receipt of a subpoena issued by a court, or a court order, should contact an attorney who is familiar with library law to determine if the subpoena (or order) is in good form. For example, a subpoena will always have the word “subpoena” written at the top, and will always give the library a few day s to comply with (or challenge) the request. 
  5. If a subpoena is not in proper form, the library with advice of its attorney should insist that all defects be cured before any records are released. A motion to quash the subpoena may be appropriate in some cases.  
  6. Any problems relating to the privacy of circulation and other records identifying the names of library users that are not provided for above shall be referred to the director.
  7. In either the case of a subpoena or a search warrant, records shall be kept of all legal requests and all costs incurred by the Library (including additional staff time and replacement of equipment).


Policy adopted: 10/15/2008
Last Reviewed:  5/15/2013


N.J.S.A § 18A:73-43.1 (2005), “Library,” “library record” defined 

a. “Library” means a library maintained by any State or local governmental agency, school, college, or industrial, commercial or other special group, association or agency, whether public or private. 

b. “Library record” means any document or record, however maintained, the primary purpose of which is to provide for control of the circulation or other public use of library materials. 

N.J.S.A. 18A:73-43.2 Confidentiality of library user’s records

Library records which contain the names or other personal identifying details regarding the users of libraries are confidential and shall not be disclosed except in the following circumstances:

a. The records are necessary for the proper operation of the library.

b. Disclosure is requested by the user; or

c. Disclosure is required pursuant to a subpoena issued by a court or a court order.

American Library Association’s Code of Ethics (1995) Section 3: 

‘We protect each library user’s right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted.”

100 Ridge Road, Mahwah, NJ, 07430 201.529.READ
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