Confidentiality Policy

The Billerica Public Library maintains confidentiality concerning all patron records and transactions as required by law. According to Massachusetts General Laws Annotated, Chapter 78, Section 7, entitled “Public Libraries: Establishment by cities and towns; records,”

“…that part of the records of a public library which reveals the identity and intellectual pursuits of a person using such library shall not be a public record as defined by clause twenty-six of section seven of chapter four.”

In accordance with the previously mentioned Massachusetts law, the Billerica Public Library will observe the following practices to protect patrons’ confidentiality:

  • Patrons seeking to borrow items and/or pick up holds without a library card will be asked to show a photo ID unless the staff member on duty has previously verified their identity.
  • Patrons picking up holds on behalf of a friend or family member should have that patron’s card in their possession to indicate permission. Alternatively, patrons can request a note be placed on their account authorizing their friend or family member to pick up on their behalf. Without the patron’s card or authorizing note, staff will only release holds if pickup approval can otherwise be verified.
  • Since patron privacy extends to all regardless of age, Billerica Public Library will only provide a list of borrowed materials to the patron who the account belongs to regardless of the patron’s age. The library recognizes the potential need for parents or legal guardians to have information on borrowed library material in order to rectify paying for or finding material for which they are financially responsible. The library will be happy to mail a list of borrowed or lost items to the cardholder’s home and/or email a list of borrowed or lost items to the email address on file. Parents or legal guardians can also look up their child’s records using the “My Account” feature, with the card number and PIN.
  • When a patron calls to renew an item or place a hold, they will be asked for their card number. If the card number is unavailable, the patron will be asked to verify their identity by providing the address, phone number, and email address on file.

Further, a subpoena or search warrant authorized under the authority of federal, state, or local law relating to civil, criminal, or investigative power is required prior to release of a patron’s library record. Upon receipt of any such subpoena or search warrant, the Library Director will consult with legal counsel to determine if the subpoena or search warrant is in proper form and if there is a valid basis for its issuance before providing a patron’s confidential information.

Except in the cases outlined above, under no circumstances will any information regarding either patron registration or circulation be released to a third party.

*Parts of this policy were adapted from similar policies from the Wilmington (MA) Memorial Library and Langley-Adams Library (Groveland, MA).

Revised and adopted by vote of the Board of Library Trustees February 2022

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