User Privacy Policy of the Cal Poly Humboldt Library

Month/Year Posted: 
January, 2012
Policy Number: 

It is the policy of the Cal Poly Humboldt Library to respect the privacy of all users to the extent permitted by law. The Library will not reveal the identities of individual users (names, addresses, telephone numbers, social security numbers) or reveal what information sources or services they consult (books checked out, questions asked), to anyone outside of the organization unless required to by law.

This policy applies to all resources regardless of their format or means of delivery, as well as to all services offered by the Library. While search warrants or court orders have always been required to obtain library records, the passage of the USA PATRIOT Act and increased surveillance and investigative activity by the Federal Bureau of Investigation have renewed American libraries' concerns for patron privacy. While a search warrant or court order is still required to obtain records, the USA PATRIOT Act makes it much easier for the government to obtain both.

For examples of how this policy applies to specific Library services, see below.

Circulation and Billing Records for HSU Library Resources

The Library does not reveal the names of individual borrowers nor reveal what materials are charged to any individual, except as required by law. The Library does retain information about Cal Poly Humboldt Library resources that an individual currently has checked out, but that information is expunged after those resources have been returned to the Library. The Library does not keep a permanent ongoing record of borrowing for any individual, although the Library system's back-up files may retain borrowing information for up to three months after an item is returned. The Library may also retain borrower information relating to billing activity for lost or damaged materials for an indefinite period.

Interlibrary Loan (ILL)/Document Delivery

Documentation relating to interlibrary loan requests, including the names of borrowers and titles requested, is retained by the Library for internal working purposes for a limited period of time. Personal information, provided in order to request interlibrary loan service, is also shared with our library lenders.

Library Surveys/Assessment Projects

Information and data obtained by the Library through surveys or other means, whose intended use is to provide assessment of services, collections, facilities, etc., are considered confidential and will not be shared except in aggregations, to protect the privacy of individual participants.

Online Access

Personal information collected from the Library web site is not made available to any other entity outside the Library except as required by law. There are different types of information that the Library may collect during your visit to our web site, and associated web sites (such as licensed databases), including the following:

    • Web Visit Logs: The Library will use web server log information to create internal summary reports about web site use. These web server logs are permanently archived. The Library's web server logs will identify the host name and/or the IP address of the computer that you use, record date and time information, as well as pages viewed. We do not attempt to identify individual visitors from this information. Records of searches in the Library Catalog are kept in a detailed log, but no information identifying individual users is logged in the catalog. The Library creates summary reports of these transactions for internal analysis. Any personally identifiable information is not released to external parties, unless required by law.
    • Cookies: The Library servers use cookies to provide access to restricted databases. A cookie is a small piece of data that is sent to your browser from our web site's server and stored on your computer's hard drive. These cookies may remain on your computer's disk. The cookies are used only to allow you to access Cal Poly Humboldt licensed databases when you are not using a campus computer. You may delete cookies from your computer, but they must be allowed by your security settings to allow access to our databases remotely. The Library does not gather and store personal information using cookies.
    • Information Voluntarily Provided by You: The Library may use personal information provided in email requests (such as "Ask Us"), web forms, authentication sessions with Library servers, and other electronic transactions to contact you, to provide the requested service, and to analyze the effectiveness of services provided. Personally identifiable information from these activities is not released to external parties unless required by law.
    • The Library website contains links to websites maintained outside of the Cal Poly Humboldt Library. The Library is not responsible for the privacy practices or the content of these external web sites.

    Reference/Research Consultations

    Consultation services are confidential and information about using these services will not be shared outside the Library. Library staff will not reveal the identity of Library users, the nature of their inquiries, nor the information or sources they consult.

    [Portions of this policy have been adapted from the "User Privacy Policy of the University Library", University of Michigan, last updated 3/31/2009, available at]

    Additional information from the American Library Association:

    Approved by All Library Council 1-10-12