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School Library Privacy Issues

School librarians recognize and respect the rights of children and youth as library users. In Colorado, the parent or legal guardian may request the educational records of their child, which may include library records.* School libraries must abide by the rules pertaining to student privacy rights.

According to the ALA, school librarians may face the situation of an adult asking for information pertaining to students' library use. These situations must be handled in accordance with all school and library policies. In an ideal situation, that information would not be released. School teacher librarians serve best when they assist teachers in developing classroom procedures and policies that preserve user privacy and meet educational goals.

1) Colorado State Library Law
CRS 24-90-119

This document clarifies when a parent can have access to their child's library record in the public library.

Privacy of User Records
A publicly-supported library shall not disclose any record or other information that identifies a person as having requested or obtained specific materials or service or as otherwise having used the library.
(2) Records may be disclosed in the following instances:
(d) To a custodial parent or legal guardian who has access to a minor's library card or its authorization number for the purpose of accessing by electronic means library records of the minor.

2) Colorado State Statues
22-1-123. Protection of student data - parental or legal guardian consent for surveys.

(1) As used in this section, "education records" and "directory information" shall have the same meanings as those terms are defined in the federal "Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974", as amended, 20 U.S.C. sec. 1232g and "education records" shall include an individual education program.

(2) A school district shall comply with the provisions of 20 U.S.C. sec. 1232g (a) and 34 CFR 99 if a parent or legal guardian of a student either requests the education records* of the student or requests an amendment or other change to the education records after reviewing them.

(3) A school district shall not release the education records of a student to any person, agency, or organization without the prior written consent of the parent or legal guardian of the student except as otherwise permitted in 20 U.S.C. sec. 1232g (b).

3) U. S. Department Of Education
Model Notification of Rights for Elementary and Secondary Schools

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords parents and students over 18 years of age ("eligible students") certain rights with respect to the student's education records. These rights are:

The right to inspect and review the student's education records* within 45 days of the day the School receives a request for access. Parents or eligible students should submit to the School principal [or appropriate school official] a written request that identifies the record(s) they wish to inspect. The School official will make arrangements for access and notify the parent or eligible student of the time and place where the records may be inspected.

*The host agency posting this page is not aware of case law regarding whether library records fall under the FERPA disclosure rules or not. They may be exempt under a definitional clause in FERPA that states "Records that are kept in the sole possession of the maker are used only as a personal memory aid, and are not accessible or revealed to any other person except a temporary substitute for the maker of the record [may not be disclosed]."

Resources for library records and confidentiality in schools

  1. American Library Association's "Position Statement on the Confidentiality of Library Records"
  2. American Library Association's "Access for Children and Young Adults to Non-print Materials" (An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights)
  3. Code of Ethics of the American Library Association
  4. American Library Association on developing privacy policies
  5. United States Department of Education
    Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
  6. United States Department of Education
    Protecting the Privacy of Student Records, Guidelines for Education Agencies (PDF)

View entire Colorado Library Law here.

For additional information contact the Colorado State Library at 303-866-6900.