Privacy is essential to the exercise of free speech, free thought, and free association, and confidentiality exists when a library is in possession of personally identifiable information about users and keeps that information private on their behalf. The Minuteman Library Network (MLN) and our member libraries recognize the importance of protecting the privacy and confidentiality of our users’ registration, circulation, and electronic access information. Our commitment to privacy and confidentiality has deep roots not only in law but also in the ethics and practices of librarianship.
Personal Information We May Possess
We must obtain certain personal information about you in order to provide a library account. If you are affiliated with our college libraries, we may receive personally identifiable information to create and update your library account from your college. This information about library users is found in the following contexts:
User registration information:
This is the information, including names, home addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses, that is provided to the library when a library card is obtained by a user. This information is retained for library business, and user accountability for checked out materials. It is also retained to determine eligibility for resources limited to residents of a community.
When library materials are borrowed through our system the information collected by Minuteman is limited to what is believed necessary or useful to conduct library business.
Electronic Access Information:
We may obtain data regarding users at the time they use a library card to gain access to electronic content (for which the State, the Minuteman Library Network or the individual library pays a subscription fee). MLN keeps no permanent record of sites visited by library users, the electronic databases accessed, or the searches performed by individual users. While we may disclose information about use of our website in aggregate (such as server use statistics) we will not disclose to third parties any information that could be used to identify individuals or their use of MLN resources, except as required by law or appropriate law enforcement procedures.
Access to Information We Have About You
Any person is entitled to view his or her own library account information in person with positive identification in our libraries. The records of minors with their own cards are also considered to be private to those persons.
Minuteman Library Network General Policy of Nondisclosure
MLN will not publicly disclose personal information about library users or their borrowing history. MLN will not sell, lease, or give users’ personal information or borrowing information to companies, governmental agencies, or individuals except as authorized by the participating libraries or as required by federal and state law. We provide essential information to trusted partners who work on behalf of or with Minuteman; however, these companies do not have any independent right to share this information. These companies must demonstrate that they agree that end user data will not be retained beyond the agreed upon parameters, sold, or otherwise distributed or disclosed.
MLN or a member library may be required to provide a user’s personal information to a local, state or federal governmental entity pursuant to compulsory legal process. While we will make every effort to respect the privacy of our users, if under a legal requirement to turn over data, such as a court order, subpoena or search warrant, we will comply with the law.
Data Integrity and Security
Minuteman Library Network makes every reasonable effort to maintain the accuracy of all information we collect and retain. We are also committed to maintaining the security of all personal information. Appropriate physical, electronic, and managerial procedures are in place to safeguard and secure the information we collect to prevent unauthorized access, alteration or disclosure of data.
Despite the precautions we take to prevent unauthorized access to personal information, we recognize that no system is immune from unlawful intrusion through hacking, which violates both federal and state laws; therefore, the Minuteman Library Network cannot guarantee that information we collect can never be accessed by unauthorized users.
Categories of Data
Data about library users is stored in our library automation software, which is not accessible outside of the systems operated by the library. Library staff must use a username and password for access to the system. Data is removed from the system if a user account is inactive for 5 or more years.
Information on a user’s current borrowing activity is retained to provide identification and accountability for library materials.
User requests are kept by the system until they are filled and for an additional 30 days if the item is not picked up or the request is cancelled.
Backups for system restoration, in case of catastrophic data loss, are retained for two weeks.
Searching and User Account Inquiries
No personally identifiable data is kept about user searches in the catalog.
Users may elect to have the system keep their Reading History, preferred searches or keep reading lists. This information is only accessible to the user with their library card number and personal information number (PIN). Library staff cannot access it and MLN systems staff will not access it in ways that identify the personal interests of users.
The Minuteman site provides secure SSL transmission of any dialogs conducted once a user has logged in with barcode and PIN.
Credit Card Transactions
MLN accepts credit card payments for fines and fees levied by member libraries. Payments may be made either online or at a self-checkout station at a member library. Minuteman uses a secure, reliable payment connection through a third party vendor. Our systems are PCI compliant (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard).
No credit card information is stored by MLN. The credit card statement will list "Minuteman" as the vendor.
Minuteman is not able to provide refunds on your credit card. All Minuteman libraries have their own policies regarding refunds for lost items. Some libraries do not provide refunds for lost and paid material. Contact your local library for more information.
Electronic Content access
No personally identifiable information is tracked for visitors to the Minuteman Library Network websites.
Minuteman websites may employ the use of Persistent Cookies. The purpose of persistent cookies is to collect and aggregate data regarding the site’s visitor activity so that MLN can continuously evaluate and update its website services. You may elect to disable Persistent Cookies; however, be advised that disabling Persistent Cookies may affect your ability to view or interact with the website
Minuteman websites may also use temporary Session Cookies to allow visitors to interact with Minuteman and to use online applications. Session Cookies do not allow us to personally identify a visitor. These cookies are stored only in memory and are deleted when the user’s browser is closed.
Libraries collect email addresses for purposes directly related to library services. Electronic mail is sent, for example, to notify users when requested material is ready for pickup at the library, or when material has become overdue or billed. These email addresses are kept confidential.
Libraries may export email addresses related to their patrons only to email service vendors for purposes related to other library business and customer communications. Patrons must be able to opt out of these services when the communications are not related to billing and overdues. Libraries may provide interest information that is not title specific along with these email addresses to assist in message segmentation. This must be done on a report basis, and Minuteman may assist the library in developing and automating these reports on a schedule, for example to contact new cardholders. Minuteman will not allow such 3rd party vendors to access Minuteman information via queries into our database.
There is no guarantee of privacy for email that travels over the Internet between a user and the Minuteman Library Network. Users can remove their email address online, https://library.minlib.net/patroninfo/ or request that it be removed from their record by a library staff member.
Links to other sites
The Minuteman Library Network website may contain links to other sites. MLN does not control or monitor access to material which may be accessible from other Internet sites. Minuteman Library Network is not responsible for the confidentiality of any information patrons provide to outside sites.
When users connect to websites outside of the Minuteman servers, all communication is over the public Internet. Users must understand that this is not protected communication when choosing to provide personal information to external websites. Minuteman cannot and does not guarantee that every task completed on PCs connected to its network is private.
Users are required to abide by the following guidelines for Internet use at MLN member libraries. It is not acceptable to use the Internet access for illegal or abusive purposes, including but not limited to:
• Transmission of chain letters, broadcast letter, or any form of junk mail
• Transmission of threatening, obscene, or harassing materials
• Transmission of computer viruses
• Unauthorized access to local and remote computer systems
The Minuteman Library Network assumes no liability for any damage to user data or loss of user privacy sustained while using member library computers.
Individual MLN libraries may have additional Internet policies and procedures in effect.
Computer Use Records
Minuteman Library Network member libraries offer computers for public access. Some MLN member libraries use software to manage the high demand for these computers. Users enter their library card registration number (or barcode) to use a computer. While statistics about overall usage patterns are maintained in order to improve services offered, the activities of specific users are not retained. User login information is removed from the computer in accordance with the policy of the individual member library.
Library users must keep in mind that public workstations are neither private nor secure and must use judgment and discretion when using a library computer. The Minuteman Library Network assumes no liability for any violation of privacy of individual or any commercial or financial loss to users who use library computers.
The Minuteman Library Network website provides forms for contacting the Network. Data so provided is kept confidential and is used only to respond in cases where the user has asked for a response. We reserve the right to keep suggestions for future improvement to our system or our web site, so long as we strip the suggestion of any personally identifiable data.
Minuteman Library Card Registration Policy
All who live, work, or study in Massachusetts are eligible to apply for a Minuteman library card, or have their current Massachusetts library card added to the Minuteman user database. A valid Minuteman library card allows borrowing privileges at all member libraries, though select resources and databases may be only available based on residency or college affiliation.
Minuteman Library Network has adopted the following policy to verify the credentials of patrons. The following are minimum standards required before creating a new patron record.
One Account per Person
Each user will be issued only one patron account in the Minuteman database. The exceptions are students or faculty of MLN academic institutions, who may have a card from their academic institution as well as from their public library.
Identification and Proof of Address Required
Before creating a new patron record, the individual must present the following:
Current, valid Massachusetts Driver’s license or Massachusetts State Identification Card with current address.
one document from Section 1 AND one document from Section 2 below:
1. Proof of identification –current or expired-- (must include name and photo)
- Alien Resident Card
- Government issued cards, such as Military ID
- State issued photo ID including welfare, Medicaid or FID card
- University or school ID
- Senior/T.A.P. ID issued by the MBTA (added by Membership 01/18/2017)
2. Proof of current local address* (must include applicant’s name)
- Utility bill or tax bill (dated within the last 60 days)
- Lease agreement
- Imprinted bank check or deposit slip
- Official school schedule with applicant’s name and address typed on it
- Official letter verifying residency and mailing address dated within last 30 days from a social service provider, temporary employer that provides housing, or a short-term residence
- Postcard mailed to applicant from the library
*a Post Office Box or business address is not sufficient – a current residential address is required.
If applicant is under 13 years old, parent or legal guardian must provide proof of identification and address. A child must be present for a parent or legal guardian to get them a library card.
If applicant is between the ages of 13 and 17 and cannot meet the ID and address requirements, parent or guardian must provide proof of identification and address. A teen must be present for a parent or legal guardian to get them a library card.
Out-of-state Residents who meet the following requirements, may be issued a library card with sufficient identification:
- Work in Massachusetts
- Attend school in Massachusetts
- Own property in Massachusetts
- Are temporarily living in Massachusetts for more than 2 months
Out of state residents must provide identification showing their home/permanent address. Property owners must provide verification such as tax bill, utility bill, etc for their Massachusetts property. Students must verify their status with school identification and provide their school address. Out-of-state residents working in Massachusetts must provide their work address. Patrons who are temporary residents (such as college students or au pairs) should be registered with permanent address in the secondary address field.
Minuteman Library Network Social Media Policy
The Minuteman Library Network (MLN) has established social media sites primarily to inform Minuteman Library users about programs, resources, and events, held at any of the Minuteman Library Network Member Libraries. Library social media sites include any online forum, site, web application, or account created and maintained by MLN or its agents, which permit users to communicate with others users through postings. They include but are not limited to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube. The MLN social media policy applies to all users of the MLN social media sites.
Third party websites also have their own privacy policies, which apply to all users of the Minuteman Library Network social sites.
The Minuteman Library Network reserves the right to monitor content before it is posted on all of its social media sites and to remove any messages, tags or postings that it deems to be abusive, defamatory, in violation of copyright, or otherwise inappropriate for the service.
The Minuteman Library Network does not act in place of or in the absence of a parent and is not responsible for enforcing any restrictions which a parent or guardian may place on a minor's use of social media sites.
Copyright and Sharing
Users will make every attempt to protect copyrighted or other intellectual property rights. Proper credit needs to be given to all referenced sources.
By posting on the MLNs social media sites, users give MLN permission to use their name, profile picture, and the content of any posting users make without compensation to them or liability on the part of the MLN. This permission ends when users delete their posting.
MLN does not mine content from its affiliated sites and groups. MLN may repost social media content where beneficial for the network. MLN may send outreach communications to its member libraries to post and share events on their own social media sites.
Minuteman may use its social media sites to inform library users of legislation being considered at the state or federal level.
The name Minuteman Library Network, Inc. is trademarked - Reg. No. 3,745,968 and it can only be used on official MLN social sites, forums and groups.
MLN Central Site Staff has administrative privileges for those affiliated pages, accounts or posts, bearing MLN's logo or trademark.
Adapted from policies prepared by Worcester Public Library and Berkshire Athenaeum Pittsfield's Public Library
Minuteman Library Network Digital Collection Development Policy
(approved 4/25/2012, amended 03/17/2021)
The Minuteman Library Network purchases and provides access to digital content in the form of ebooks, e-audiobooks, databases and other online resources for direct access by patrons of member libraries. Decisions regarding these collections are governed by this policy and additional specific instructions of the Board of Directors, and are managed and implemented by the Digital Content Working Group. This Collection Development Policy for Digital Content is based on and reflects Minuteman's mission, vision and goals. Members of the Digital Content Working Group are chosen from a representative cross-section of member libraries and are appointed based on qualification by reason of education and training.
Digital content shall be selected and retained on the basis of its value for the interest, education, information, and recreation of the people of the communities served by Minuteman member libraries. We recognize the challenges of purchasing for both public and academic libraries while fulfilling the needs of a diverse population. The Digital Content Working Group (DCWG) shall consider library user suggestions of titles and subjects to be included in Minuteman's network collection, and purchase materials based on this policy. Individual member libraries are responsible for policy and decisions regarding additions to their own digital collections, even where these collections may become shared with the larger Minuteman Digital Collections.
The following criteria are taken into consideration in selecting materials for the collection:
- Interest and demand - staff and patron requests, usage data, waiting lists
- Suitability of subject, style, and reading level for intended audience
- Reviews - in review journals, popular media
- Best sellers and award winners
- Budget considerations
- Authoritativeness of author, issuing body, and/or publisher
- Accuracy and comprehensiveness
- Currency, where important to the topic
- Diversity of viewpoint
- Format - availability and popularity
- Suitability of the format to the content presented
- Ease of use of the material and its format
- Hardware, software, licensing, networking and storage requirements
- Long term availability and perpetual access rights
Retention of Digital Collection Materials
The DCWG will periodically review digital collections using the selection criteria stated above. Content may be removed from the collection at any time at the sole discretion of the DCWG. Expired content may display in the catalog but may not be available or selected to repurchase. Additionally, items in the collection may become unavailable by the publisher or provider at any time. The DCWG does not control certain deselection processes made by the publishers or content carriers.
Reconsideration of Digital Collection Materials
Best practices in collection development assert that materials should not be excluded from a collection solely because the content or its creator may be considered offensive or controversial. Refusing to select resources due to potential controversy is considered censorship, as is withdrawing resources for that reason. Libraries have a responsibility to defend against challenges that limit a collection’s diversity of content. Challenges commonly cite content viewed as inappropriate, offensive, or controversial, which may include but is not limited to prejudicial language and ideas, political content, economic theory, social philosophies, religious beliefs, scientific research, sexual content, and representation of diverse sexual orientations, expressions, and gender identities.
The DCWG will evaluate whether the material still has significant value to the intended audience according to Minuteman's selection criteria, and whether it has any material deficiency or error that significantly impairs its value to that audience. If the review fails that test the material may be removed from the collection if the Board of Directors concurs.
Requests for Reconsideration:
Patrons with concerns about the content of materials in Minuteman's Digital Collection are invited to document specific concerns using the online Request for Reconsideration of Digital Content form. Anonymous submissions will not be considered.
These form submissions will be collected by Minuteman's Executive Director and relayed to the Digital Content Working Group for review.
It is the responsibility of the Executive Director to communicate the results of the review to the patron submitting the request.