Legal and Ethical Issues

Minnesota law on confidentiality of library records

Minnesota law on confidentiality of library records is part of the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act that is found in MINNESOTA STATUTES, Chapter 13, Section 13.40. This section deals specifically with library data.

13.40 Library and historical data.

Subdivision 1. Records subject to this chapter. (a) For purposes of this section, "historical records repository” means an archives or manuscript repository operated by any state agency, statewide system, or political subdivision whose purpose is to collect and maintain data to further the history of a geographic or subject area. The term does not include the state archives as defined in section 138.17, subdivision 1, clause (5).

(b) Data collected, maintained, used, or disseminated by a library or historical records repository operated by any state agency, political subdivision, or statewide system shall be administered in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.

Subd. 2. Private data; library borrowers. (a) Except as provided in paragraph (b), the following data maintained by a library are private data on individuals and may not be disclosed for other than library purposes except pursuant to a court order:

(1) data that link a library patron's name with materials requested or borrowed by the patron or that link a patron's name with a specific subject about which the patron has requested information or materials; or

(2) data in applications for borrower cards, other than the name of the borrower.

(b) A library may release reserved materials to a family member or other person who resides with a library patron and who is picking up the material on behalf of the patron. A patron may request that reserved materials be released only to the patron.

Subd. 3. Nongovernmental data. Data held in the custody of a historical records repository that were not originally created, received, maintained, or disseminated by a state agency, statewide system, or political subdivision are not government data. These data are accessible to the public unless:

(1) the data are contributed by private persons under an agreement that restricts access, to the extent of any lawful limitation; or

(2) access would significantly endanger the physical or organizational integrity of the data.

HIST: 1980 c 603 s 21; 1981 c 311 s 39; 1982 c 545 s 6,24; 1991 c 319 s 3; 1992 c 499 art 10 s 1; 1996 c 440 art 1 s 7 Copyright 2002 by the Office of Revisor of Statutes, State of Minnesota.

The Minnesota Statutes are available at

Go to ALA Policy on confidentiality of library records.

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This page was updated on September 30, 2003.