Amherst Town Library Requests for
library records will not be released or made available to any person unless a
court order in proper form has been entered by a court of competent
jurisdiction after showing good cause by the law enforcement agency or person
seeking the records.
- It is lawful for employees of the
library to refer any agent or officer seeking confidential library records
to an administrator in charge. It
is not necessary to respond immediately to any request. If a staff member is approached by any
person requesting confidential library records, he/she should ask for
identification and then immediately refer the person to the Director. If the Director will be unavailable for
longer than 24 hours, the staff member should refer the person to the
Chairman or Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees.
- The Director or Board Member will
meet with the inquiring agent or officer with library counsel or a
colleague in attendance.
- If there is no court order compelling
the production of records, the requestor shall be informed of the
library’s confidentiality and privacy policies and the State of New
Hampshire’s confidentiality law (RSA 201-D:11).
- If the agent or officer presents a
court order, the Library
Director shall immediately contact the Chairman or Vice Chairman of the
Board of Trustees so that the court order can be referred to the legal
counsel for the Town of Amherst
for review. The Library Director or the Board Member will
notify the Amherst Town Administrator of the use of legal counsel.
If the court
order is in the form of a subpoena:
- Counsel should examine the subpoena
for any legal defect, including the manner in which it was served on the
library, the breadth of its request, its form, evidence of sufficient
showing of good cause made to the court.
- Through legal counsel library
administration will insist that any defect be cured before confidential
records are released.
- Library administration shall follow the
subpoena strictly and shall not release any information not specifically
requested in it.
- If disclosure is required, library
administration shall ask the court to enter a protective order drafted by
the town counsel keeping the information confidential and limiting its use
to the particular case.
If the court
order is in the form of a search warrant:
- A search order is executable
immediately (unlike a subpoena).
The agent or officer may begin a search of library records as soon
as the Library Director is
served with the court’s order.
- The Library
Director shall ask to have a representative from the Board of Trustees and
town legal counsel present before the search begins in order to allow
counsel an opportunity to examine the search warrant and to assure that
the search conforms to the terms of the search warrant.
- Library administration shall cooperate with
the search to ensure that only the records identified in the warrant are
produced and that no other users’ records are viewed or scanned.
If the court
order is a search warrant issued under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
Act (FISA) USA Patriot Act amendment:
- The procedures for a regular search
still apply. However, a search
warrant issued by a FISA court also contains a gag order. No person or institution served with the
warrant can disclose that the warrant has been served or that records have
been produced pursuant to the warrant.
- Library staff and their representatives
cannot disclose any information to any party, including the patron whose
records are the subject of the search warrant. The gag order does not change the
library’s right to legal representation during the search.