Public Access to Library Records

It is the policy of the Minerva Public Library that openness leads to a better informed citizenry, which in turn leads to better government and better public policy. .

Public Records

In accordance with the Ohio Revised Code and applicable judicial decisions, a record is defined as any item that: (i) contains information stored on a fixed medium (such as paper, electronic – including but not limited to e-mail – and other formats); (ii) is created or received by, or sent under the jurisdiction of a public office and (iii) documents the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations or other activities of the office.

As required by Ohio law, records will be organized and maintained so that they are readily available for inspection and copying. Records will be available for inspection and copying at all reasonable times during regular business hours.

Record requests

Each request for public records is managed using the following guidelines:

  •  A request for public records is made to the Library Director who is the Records Custodian for the library
  •  Requests may be made:
    •  By telephone—330-868-4101
    •  On site at the Minerva Public Library.
    •  By mail to the Library Director, Minerva Public Library, 677 Lynnwood Dr., Minerva OH 44657.
    •  By fax to the Library Director, Minerva Public Library, 330-868-4267.

Although no specific language is required to make a request, the requester must at least identify the records requested with sufficient clarity to allow the library to identify, retrieve, and review the records. If it is not clear what records are being sought, the Records Custodian will contact the requester for clarification, and may assist the requestor in revising the request by informing the requestor of the manner in which the library keeps its records.

The requester does not have to put a records request in writing, and does not have to provide his or her identity or the intended use of the requested public record. It is the library’s general policy that this information is not to be requested, except to the extent necessary to permit the library to comply with requests to send documents to the requester.

Public records are to be available for inspection during regular business hours. Public records should be made available for inspection promptly. On-site review of public records is made in the presence of the Library Director or his or her designee during the business hours of 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday (except holidays or other days when the library is closed). Copies of public records should be made available within a reasonable period of time. “Prompt” and “reasonable” take into account the volume of records requested; the proximity of the location where the records are stored; and the necessity for any legal review of the records requested.

Each request should be evaluated for an estimated length of time required to gather the records. Any denial of public records requested must include an explanation, including legal authority. If the request is in writing, the explanation must also be in writing. If portions of a record are public and portions are exempt, the exempt portions are to be redacted and the rest released.

Costs for Public Records

Those seeking public records will be charged only the actual cost of making copies.

  • The charge for paper copies is 5 cents per page.
  • The charge for downloaded computer files to a compact disc is $1 per disc.
  • There is no charge for documents e-mailed.

The Minerva Public Library requires the person making the request to pay in advance the cost of postage if the copy is transmitted by United States mail or the cost of delivery if the copy is transmitted other than by United States mail, and to pay in advance the costs incurred for other supplies used in the mailing, delivery, copying or transmission.

Confidentiality of Library Records

The Board of Trustees recognizes that library records and patron information are confidential. According to Ohio Revised Code 149.432 library records are defined as a record in any form that is maintained by the library and that contains any of the following types of information:

  • Information an individual is required to provide in order to be eligible to use library services or borrow materials.
  • Information that identifies an individual as having requested or obtained specific materials or materials on a specific subject.
  • Information that is provided by an individual to assist a staff member to answer a specific question or provide information on a particular subject.

Information that does not identify an individual, and that is retained for studying or evaluating the use of the library is not considered confidential and is not subject to this policy.

Under Ohio law, a patron’s library records or information shall not be made available to any agency of federal, state, or local government, or to any spouse or other individual other than the individual who is the subject of the record or information, except as pursuant to the following:

  • For the records or patron information pertaining to minor children when requested by parents, guardians, or custodians.
  • In accordance with a subpoena, search warrant, or other court order, or to a law enforcement officer who is investigating a matter involving public safety in exigent circumstances.
  • Upon the  request or with the  consent of the individual who is the subject of the record or information.
  • For library administrative purposes as defined by Ohio Revised Code 149.432
Sources of Patron Information 

Sources of Patron information may include, but are not limited to:

  • Circulation Records: Library material is circulated via the Dynix Horizon system. The circulation software tracks materials currently checked out, automatically erasing a patron’s borrowing record once the material is returned.
  • Computer Use Records: The browsing history and cache of each public Internet computer is erased when the computer is shut down and re-started.
  • Resource Sharing Records: The library accesses materials from other libraries through the SEO consortium and, via SEO, through OCLC Resource Sharing services. The library does not keep paper records after the materials are returned to the lending library and the transaction is complete. Identifying patron information is purged from electronic records when the transaction is completed. SEO keeps no electronic records of OCLC loans after the items are returned.
  • Reference Interviews: A reference interview occurs when a patron needing information works with a library staff member who questions or interviews the patron in order to better find the specific information needed. Usually during an in-person interview staff create no paper record that includes patron information.
  • Telephone Reference Interviews: If a patron’s name and phone number is taken over the phone, and patron information is recorded, the paper record is destroyed as soon as the requested information is delivered.
  •  E-Mail Reference Transactions: In order to better work on a question, staff may print information requests received by e-mail. The e-mail message from the patron is deleted, and the printed request, if any, is destroyed when the question is answered. The e-mail answer cache is deleted when the transaction is satisfactorily completed.
Patron Privacy: Fundamental Principles

To better preserve patron privacy, library policies and procedures follow these recommendations:

  • Avoid creating unnecessary records.
  • Avoid retaining records that are not needed for the efficient operation of the library.
  • Avoid library practices and procedures that place patron information in public view.
  • All requests for information from library records or documents that fall under the Public Records Policy shall be made to the Library Director or his or her designee.
  • The Library Director is responsible for handling requests from law enforcement officers.
  • The Library Director is the official contact for the library with the Office of the County Prosecutor, the library’s legal counsel.
  • In the absence of the Library Director, the Fiscal Officer, and the Library Board President are the official designees who may release information or contact legal counsel.
Releasing Patron Information
  • Library staff will provide access to patron account information at a service desk to a patron who has the library card in hand for that account.
  • Library staff will release library information or library records pertaining to a minor child to that child’s parent, guardian, or custodian upon presentation of the child’s library card, or patron number, or sufficient information to both indentify the child’s library record and to provide library staff with a reasonable assurance that the person requesting the information is indeed the child’s parent, guardian, or custodian.
  • Library staff will provide access to patron account information over the telephone to a caller who can provide both the library account number and the patron’s birth date associated with that account.
  • When a lost card is reported over the telephone, the patron account associated with that card will be blocked.
  •  Because identification is difficult to verify over the telephone, library staff will provide only limited access to patron account information to the caller who does not have the patron’s library account number but can provide the patron’s name, address, and birth date.