Library privacy and confidentiality

Each user’s right to privacy and unrestricted access is reaffirmed by ALA’s Library Bill of Rights and Freedom to Read, which are endorsed by the Department and the Library Board.

Confidentiality of library borrowing records and computer use

All borrowers’ records are confidential. Their inspection, use, or disclosure is prohibited (Annotated Code of Maryland ED§ 23-108), and are excluded from disclosure under the Maryland Freedom of Information Act (ST GOV §10-616e) unless otherwise provided by law. The County requires that law enforcement requests for any library record be in the form of an order issued by a court of competent jurisdiction that shows good cause and is in proper form.

Library staff will provide information about a borrower’s record only to the card holder. To safeguard privacy, customers who request information by telephone will be asked to provide their card number and name. Other information such as birth date, address, and home or business phone number may also be requested.

Staff can provide parents who are checking out with their child’s library card:

  • a list of the titles just borrowed;
  • information on the number and types of materials charged; and
  • information about fines on their child’s account.

Customers may manage accounts on our website from the link to Your Account.

In keeping with these confidentiality provisions, the Library does not sell, lease, or otherwise distribute or disclose names, postal addresses, e-mail addresses, phone numbers, or other personal information for non-library purposes to outside parties unless required by law. By protecting the confidentiality of each borrower’s record, staff upholds the law and assures each borrower that he or she may borrow materials based on his or her needs.

In accordance with Maryland law, the library makes every effort to guard your privacy in the use of library materials and computers. However, under some provisions of the USA Patriot Act Improvement and Reauthorization Act 2005 federal officials may require a library to provide information about your use of library resources. Read more from the American Library Association about the USA Patriot Act and Libraries.

For more information, see MCPL's Computer, Internet, and Wireless Policies.

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Cookies are small text files placed on user computers by a website to enable customization of individual visits. Some library electronic services, such as sessions on the library catalog using the personalized log-in option and in remote databases, place temporary cookies for current sessions. These cookies do not capture personal information or compromise visitor privacy. You may delete them from your home browser when the sessions are ended. Visitors can refuse the cookie by using instructions provided in Internet browsers. This refusal may result in the inability to access many library services from computers outside the library.

Surveillance cameras

Some branches have surveillance cameras, using either videotape or digital storage, for the protection of customers and staff. Customers should be aware that their actions in these buildings may be monitored by the cameras. Surveillance videotapes are erased weekly; digital recordings are erased monthly.