Privacy & Confidentiality Policy


This policy describes patron privacy and confidentiality rights, the steps the library takes to respect and protect patron privacy when using library resources, and how the library deals with personally identifiable information that may be collected from library users.


The South Kingstown Public Library's commitment to privacy and confidentiality has roots not only in law, but also in the ethics and practices of the library profession.

In accordance with the American Library Association's Code of Ethics: "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."

Under the General Laws of Rhode Island, 11-18-32,
"(a) It shall be unlawful for any person to reveal, transmit, publish or disseminate in any manner, any records which would identify the names and addresses of individuals,...which they borrowed, from libraries ..., (b) All records of such transactions shall be maintained as confidential and may only be released by written waiver."

The privacy and confidentiality policies of the South Kingstown Public Library shall comply with applicable federal, state and local laws. Records will be made available in the event that a duly authorized request is received from a law enforcement agency.

Outlined are the rights of library patrons, as well as the responsibilities of this institution, which are based in part on the Federal Trade Commission's "Fair Information Practice Principles." The five principles outline the rights of Notice, Choice, Access, Security and Enforcement.

Notice & Openness

The library does not create unnecessary records, only retains records required to fulfill the mission of the library, and does not engage in practices that would place information on public view.

While the library must maintain records of information such as overdue and lost items, outstanding fines and payments to patron accounts, these records are secure and are purged from the Ocean State Libraries computer system when no longer needed for library business purposes.

Choice & Consent

If library users wish to receive borrowing privileges, the library must obtain certain information about them so that a library card can be issued (e.g. name, address, telephone number). The library will not collect or retain any private or personally identifiable information other than that information required to open an account.

When visiting the library's website, patrons will be required to provide their library card bar code number to access subscription databases or their own account information.

Patrons have the option of providing the library with their email address for the purpose of notifying them about their library account. They may request that the library remove their email address from their library record at any time.

Personally identifiable information provided will be kept confidential and will not be disclosed to any third party unless the library is compelled to do so under the law.

Access by Users

Individuals wishing to update or verify the accuracy of their personal information are entitled to view and update their information. Information may be viewed online and updated in person. Verification of identity will be required.

The purpose of accessing and updating personally identifiable information is to ensure that library operations function properly. Such functions may include notification of the availability of items requested or reminders of overdue materials.

Integrity & Security

The data collected and maintained by the library must be accurate and secure. Reasonable steps are taken to assure data integrity and security. Personally identifiable information is protected from unauthorized disclosure.

Tracking Users

Library visitors or website users are not asked to identify themselves or reveal any personal information unless they are borrowing materials, requesting special services including telephone or mail/email references, or registering for programs.

Materials borrowed are circulated via the Ocean State Libraries computer system. The circulation software tracks materials currently checked out, automatically erasing a reader's borrowing record once the material is returned.

When patrons visit the library's website, we collect and store only information to measure the number of visitors to different areas of the site to assist us in making the site more useful to you. The information includes:
  • The address (IP) of your computer or internet provider.
  • The date and time you accessed our site.
  • The pages that were accessed and how you navigated the site.
  • The internet address of the website that referred you to our site.
Website data is separate from individual library account data. The library cannot look up patron library records to determine what websites were visited.

The South Kingstown Public Library also offers a wireless network that allows patrons to connect to the Internet at the Peace Dale Library. Please be aware that data accessed and sent over the SKPL wireless network is not encrypted.

Third Party Security

When connecting to resources outside the library's direct control, some of the resources available will be restricted to registered borrowers under license agreements. The bar code number from a patron's library card will be required for authentication purposes only. The database vendors do not have access to library records.

The library is not responsible for protecting personal information gathered by outside websites. Users are encouraged to become familiar with the privacy statements of each site they visit.

Staff Access to Personal Data

Only authorized library staff shall have access to personal data stored in the library's computer system for the sole purpose of performing library work. The library does not sell, lease, or otherwise distribute or disclose patron's personal information to any individual or entity.

Enforcement / Compliance

South Kingstown Public Library will not share data about individuals with third parties unless legally required to do so. For example, library records may be subject to disclosure to law enforcement officials under provision of the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act (USA PATRIOT Act). Under some circumstances, librarians may be forbidden from disclosing that certain records have been requested or obtained.

Only the Library Director or designee is authorized to receive or comply with requests from law enforcement officers. Library records will not be made available to any agency of the federal, state or local government unless the library is served a subpoena, warrant or court order from a court of competent jurisdiction. If a subpoena is presented, the Director will consult with legal counsel before information is disclosed. If a warrant is presented, then a search may occur while staff contact the South Kingstown Police Department and request that an officer be present.

Parents should remind their children to ask their permission before providing personal information to any website or purchasing any products or services online. The library urges all parents to participate in their children's exploration of the Internet and to teach them about protecting their personal information while online. For further information, see Child Safety on the Information Highway.

Patrons who have questions, concerns or complaints regarding the library's handling of their privacy and confidentiality rights should contact the Library Director during regular business hours.


The Privacy and Confidentiality Policy was approved by the Board of Trustees on October 10, 2006.