Privacy Policy

Addendum #1 to the Library Service Policy

Confidentiality of Library Records


The Hawkins County Library System makes every effort to protect the privacy of library users. The library is guided by Tennessee State law regarding the privacy of patrons of the library Records. The code (TCA 10-8-102) reads as follows:

No employee of a library shall disclose any library record that identifies a person as having requested or obtained specific materials, information, or services or as having otherwise used such a library.

The Hawkins County Library System also adheres to the American Library Association Code of Ethics that states in Article III:

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.

This policy establishes guidelines for the protection of personally identifiable information contained in library records or accessible in the library or through its computer systems.

Confidentiality of Library Records

Hawkins County Library System staff will not respond to any informal request by a third party for personally identifiable information about any library user. Such information includes database search records, reference interviews, email requests for information, circulation records, interlibrary loan records, and other personally identifiable uses of library materials, facilities, or services.

Personally identifiable information may be released only to a law enforcement agency after presentation of an order by a court of competent jurisdiction issued in proper form (a court issued subpoena or search warrant) and/or under the provisions of the USA Patriot Act.

The USA Patriot Act

The Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Incept and Obstruct Terrorism Act (USA PATRIOT ACT) became law on October 26, 2001. Under provisions of the act, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and law enforcement officials may seek court orders for Library records for investigations relevant to national security or terrorism. Libraries or librarians served with these search warrants may not disclose, under the penalty of law, the existence of the warrants or the fact that records were produced as a result of the warrants.

Personally Identifiable Information

Circulation Records: Hawkins County Library System will collect only the information needed to contact library users, such as mailing address, email address, phone number, etc., in order to ensure the proper notification, lending, and return of library materials and the collection of fines. Records will be retained for the shortest length of time necessary to facilitate library operations. Patron material is circulated via the libraries Atriuum automation system. The Library does not sell, rent or otherwise distribute information to outside parties except for the possible recovery of materials.

Email reference questions submitted to the Library will be retained for no more than three months. Questions are obtained only for the purpose of statistics and to assist with follow up queries from clients. The questions themselves and any personal information such as names, email addresses, telephone and fax numbers submitted with the questions are confidential and are treated as other library user information under provisions the Confidentiality of Library Records policy above.

Searches of the online public access catalog (OPAC): The Library does not require personal information to use the OPAC. OPAC searches are conducted via Atriuum automation software. Once a search is completed, a patron may clear his own search history. The search history is also erased automatically whenever the web browser is closed. The software does not retain a copy of any search.

Electronic Databases and the Internet: No library card or identification is required to use the library’s desktop Public Access Computers.  Users are issued a single use PIN to use the desktop computers.  A library card in good standing is required to use the laptop computers and other electronic devices. When the patron logs off of a library desk top computer or laptop computer, the software erases all search history. Library patrons should be aware that the Hawkins County Library System and other Tennessee library organizations license commercial databases from a variety of vendors. The Library will make every effort to restrict electronic database vendors from collecting and using identifying personal information.

Interlibrary Loan Records: Patrons may borrow items not owned by the Hawkins County Library System from other libraries. The Hawkins County Library System tracks items currently being borrowed through a database.

Adopted by the Hawkins County Library System Board of Trustees March 2, 2015.


Revised and Approved June 2018