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veritasHarvard University Library Notes, For Harvard Library Staff, Number 1325 May 2005

Harvard University Library Notes / May 2006 / No. 1331

Requests for Library Information from Outside Investigators

The Harvard University Library includes all of Harvard's faculty, departmental, and special libraries, and its archival repositories. The University Library respects and protects the privacy of its patrons and endeavors to maintain the library as an open forum for people and ideas. However, it must comply with all legitimate requests for information by government investigators and law enforcement officers.

While each library, or, in the case of HCL, each group of libraries, may develop specific instructions for responding to requests for information, the following overall guidelines apply to all of Harvard's libraries:

  • Should you, as a library employee, be approached, in person or by phone or e-mail, by someone seeking information about patron or employee records (e.g., circulation records, reference inquiries, interlibrary loan requests) (whether or not the request is accompanied by a subpoena or a National Security Letter under the USA PATRIOT Act), your initial response should be: "I am not the person who can provide you with this information. Please contact the Office of the General Counsel at 617-495-1280." If you receive such a request outside of normal business hours or on a holiday or other non-business day, the requestor should be referred to the Harvard University Police Department at 617-495-1212.
  • Do not provide any records or other information to the requestor.
  • Immediately contact and brief your supervisor. If your supervisor is unavailable, immediately contact and brief the Office of the General Counsel and/or the Harvard University Police.

The OGC and HUPD will validate the credentials of the requestor and, together with your supervisor, will handle the disposition of the request.

The preceding statement was adopted by Harvard's University Library Council on March 16, 2006. For further information, contact your faculty librarian.


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