Patron Privacy and Confidentiality Policy

Confidentiality/Privacy is one of the core values of librarianship as defined by the American Library Association (ALA). Additionally, the Newton Gresham Library believes that protecting privacy and confidentiality to the greatest extent possible is part of fulfilling our mission to “to create physical and virtual environments that promote discovery of new knowledge and the transfer of existing knowledge.” Finally, user information at the university is protected by FERPA 


Use of Physical Library Facilities 

Library personnel will not track, document, or share the presence of specific individuals in the library space, unless illegal or disruptive behavior is being documented and reported to authorities including but not limited to the University Police.  

The library does contain security cameras for the general protection of patrons and personnel. Camera feeds and recordings are accessible to the University Police and the library’s Computer Systems Maintenance Office. General library personnel cannot access or share these feeds.  

Patron information is collected online for the purpose of reserving study rooms in the library space. These records will be kept confidential, and any personally identifying information provided will not be used for any purposes except verifying reservations and communicating with patrons regarding any damage/condition issues after a space is used.  

LGBTQIA+ students are valued members of our on-campus community. The Newton Gresham Library strives to provide a safe, inclusive, comfortable, and supportive environment to all students. To this end, and in accordance with the SHSU Non-Discrimination Policy, library personnel will not interfere with patrons’ use of their preferred restrooms according to their gender identity. Three gender-neutral restrooms are also provided in the library on the first floor (100T1, 100T2) and second floor (200T1).  

Use of Physical Library Material 

The details of materials borrowed by a library patron are stored in our online system only until the item is returned, to ensure that we are able to communicate with patrons regarding their accounts and to retrieve borrowed items. Records connecting an individual to an item are removed as soon as the item is returned (and any associated bills are paid), so library personnel are unable to provide any report of an individual’s borrowing history. 

Information about the items a patron is currently borrowing remains confidential between the patron and the library. Titles or other details of borrowed items will not be shared with anyone other than the patron, unless the library is presented with a legal warrant requiring this information to be provided. However, be aware that information about current checkouts may be communicated in writing to the patron’s official SHSU email address, so the library recommends controlling who may access or view email content. 

Use of Library Virtual Chat/Ticket Services 

Patrons may use virtual chat anonymously or with identification, and they may optionally provide identifying information (name, email address, etc.) during the course of a chat. All service tickets will include identifying information such as name and email. The personally identifying information in these records will be kept confidential and will not be used for any purposes except resolving the patron’s inquiry during or following the chat/ticket (aggregate data is also used for statistical reporting purposes). 

Use of Library Electronic Resources 

EZproxy (the tool which supports remote authentication to library-provided electronic resources) uses SHSU’s user authentication software (CAS) and stores the following data about your web traffic for 2 months before it is deleted, in accordance with general rules for system and security logging at SHSU: 

  • IP address of the device you use to connect to the service 
  • URL of the online resource you wish to gain access to 
  • Date and time of connection 
  • HTTP method, HTTP code, and payload size for the connection 
  • Session ID generated by EZproxy 
  • Username of your SHSU account 

Your data is not shared with a third party. This data is restricted to IT@SHSU security and server staff. 

Additionally, third-party vendors providing journal and database content may track user data in ways that are not controlled by or known to the Newton Gresham Library. Patrons are encouraged to consult the privacy policies of individual platforms if they wish to know more about what data is collected or how it may be used.  

Use of Library Computers  

Desktops within the library, as well as laptops loaned by the Service Desk for use in the library, operate on the SHSU campus network, and use is subject to all IT@Sam policies. Each individual user is logged into their own profile, so information and activity will generally not be saved to the local machine where it could be accessible by other users. In order to protect the privacy and security of their information, patrons should lock a workstation when they walk away from it and log out of a workstation when they are done using it.  

Users should be aware that computer use may be monitored per IT@Sam Policy Compliance policy: “Anyone using SHSU’s information resources expressly consents to university monitoring of the network at any time and for any purpose, including but not necessarily limited to, evidence of possible criminal activity, violations of law, contract, copyright or patent infringement, and/or violation of any university or Texas State University System policy, rule, or regulation.” 

Participation in Library Programs 

In order to continuously improve our programs, we kindly ask that our participants complete a survey regarding their experience. The survey will be accessible online, and all information collected will be kept confidential. 

Photography and Video/Audio Recording Inside the Library 

To protect patron privacy, the identifiable images of individuals, as well as their computer screens, books, documents etc., should not be captured without consent. See the Recording Inside the Library Policy for more details on photo/video/audio capture.  

Lost and Found Property 

Patrons inquiring about lost items are invited to record their contact information and a description of the lost item in a log to enable contact if the item is found. This log is optional, but if a patron chooses to use it, their information is confidential: it is not accessible to anyone beyond library staff at the Service Desk, and it will not be used for any purpose other than reuniting the patron with their property. Lost property logs are retained for two years (current year plus previous year) and are then destroyed to maintain confidentiality.  

Found property turned into the Library Service Desk may be examined for identifying information for the purpose of reuniting a patron with their property. If identifying information is found, the patron will be contacted by library personnel through their official SHSU email address. Any information about or identified through found property will remain confidential and not accessible to anyone beyond library staff. Found property that has not been claimed will periodically be turned over to the University Police. Found property logs are retained for two years (current year plus previous year) and are then destroyed to maintain confidentiality.  

With respect to specific types of found property, the following procedures will be followed: 

  • Backpacks, purses, wallets, or other “closed” containers: If personnel can reasonably assume that such an item may contain owner identification, the item will be opened and examined. Two members of library personnel must be present during this process for accountability.  
  • Flash drives / computer drives: Library personnel will view the drive’s file directory and may open a file that is reasonably assumed to contain owner identification. Two members of library personnel must be present during this process for accountability. Patrons concerned with the privacy of their computer files are strongly encouraged to include a Contact Info text file on their drive and nest all other files inside of a folder.