On October 25, 2001, Congress passed the "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism" (USA PATRIOT) Act. The act broadly expands law enforcement's surveillance and investigative powers, with Sections 214-216 applying to libraries and bookstores.
These sections of the Act give law enforcement agencies expanded authority to obtain library records, secretly monitor electronic communications and prohibit libraries and librarians from informing users of such monitoring or information requests.
The Faulkner County Library System will observe the following procedures when any member of the staff is presented with one of the following situations:
• If a law enforcement officer requests information about patron library usage:
The staff member approached will direct the request to the library director. The library is required by law to protect the confidentiality of library records, and it is not obligated to provide any information without a subpoena or search warrant.
• If a law enforcement officer presents a subpoena for library records:
The staff member approached will not give the law enforcement officer access to library information.
1. He/she will direct the request to the library director and contact the director immediately.
2. In the event the director cannot be reached, the staff should contact the assistant director.
3. If the assistant director cannot be reached, staff should contact the chair of the board for the county where the subpoena is presented.
4. If he or she is not available, the staff member may contact another board member.
The library director, assistant director, or board member will immediately contact the County Civil Attorney for the county in which the subpoena was presented to request a review of the document’s legal sufficiency. Based on the advice of the County Civil Attorney in each case, the library director will release the records only if the subpoena is determined to be legal and binding upon the library.
The library director or board member will explain this procedure to the law enforcement officer presenting the subpoena. The County Civil Attorney's office may provide assistance on site during the search.
• If a law enforcement officer presents a Search Warrant:
The staff member approached will not interfere with the search or seizure. He/she will contact the director immediately. If the director is unavailable, the staff member will follow the contact procedures noted above for a subpoena. The library director will inform the library board and County Civil Attorney of the search or seizure as soon as possible.