Privacy Policy

Commitment to Privacy

The George A. Smathers Libraries at the University of Florida values each individual’s privacy concerning use of library resources and actively seeks to preserve those privacy rights. Although the Libraries make every effort to protect the privacy of user circulation records and computer use, they may be obligated to release such information to law enforcement agents in response to a search warrant, subpoena, or other lawful directive issued in accordance with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, 50 U.S.C. 1801, et seq., as amended by the USA PATRIOT Act (Public Law 107-56). Under certain circumstances, library staff may be prohibited from informing you that the Libraries received such a request.

The following information explains privacy policies relating to various library services. However, in legal terms, these shall not be construed as a contractual promise, and the Libraries reserve the right to amend policies at any time without notice. Privacy and public records obligations of the Libraries are governed by University policy, pertinent Florida statutes and by any applicable U.S. federal laws.

Use of Public Workstations in the Smathers Libraries

When visiting the Smathers Libraries, users must log on to public workstations with their Gatorlink username or Guest Gatorlink user ID for persons not currently affiliated with the UF. Log-on records may be used to identify who has used a computer during a specific time period.

Individuals are responsible for logging off when their session is finished in order to protect their privacy and to insure that other individuals are not using a library workstation still logged on to someone else.

Smathers Libraries Computer Use Policy

UF Policy & Standards: Acceptable Use of Computing Resources (including Security and Privacy)

Use of the Smathers Libraries’ Web Site

The George A. Smathers Libraries Web site is an official Web site of the University of Florida and maintains information gathered over the Internet in accordance with the University Web Privacy Statement. The Libraries may also collect specific information necessary to carry out its functions and to serve its patrons.

When you connect to the UF Smathers Libraries’ Web, we collect information on browser type, operating system, screen resolution, referring sites, search terms used to reach our Web site, individual Web pages visited on our site, IP address, and the domain from which a you connected to our site. This information is collected in our internal logs as well as the logs of third-party vendors that provide statistical and software support.

Our Web site also contains links to Web sites and licensed databases that are maintained outside of the University of Florida Libraries. The Libraries are not responsible for the privacy practices of these external third-party Web sites, so you should look for any privacy statements they may have posted on their sites. Some of these services provide options for establishing accounts/profiles to take advantage of enhanced services they offer. If you log on to any of these using a personal username/password, be sure to log off to protect your privacy from others using your workstation.

The Libraries also maintain several web-based management tools, such as forms related to renewing books, asking reference questions, requesting recalls, etc. The personally identifiable information collected and stored in the Libraries’ computer or other systems will be used only to maintain your library account and communicate with you. It is not made available to any other entity outside the Libraries, except as required by law.

Under Florida law (S668.6076, F.S.), email addresses are public records. If you do not want your email address released in response to a public records request, do not send electronic mail to the University. Instead, contact the specific office or individual by phone or in writing.

In order to protect your privacy in regard to these services, you should always close your Web browser upon completion of your session.

Borrowing UF Libraries’ Materials

The Libraries maintain personally identifiable information for library accounts of valid library users. Items charged out are, of course, linked to the individual who currently has them. Upon return of an item to the library, no record that the item has been borrowed by the individual is retained unless the item was returned overdue and resulted in an overdue fine. Records of non-returned or lost items billed to an individual for replacement are also retained for the same administrative and auditing purposes.

Library circulation records are confidential information. Library staff will not give out the name of a person who currently has an item to another library user, and will not release this information to any other entity outside the Libraries, except as required by law.

Other Library Services

Confidentiality extends to information sought or received, materials consulted, database search records, reference interviews, interlibrary loan records, and other personally identifiable uses of library materials, facilities, or services. As mentioned above, any personally identifiable information collected and stored in the Libraries’ computer or other systems will be used only to maintain your library account and communicate with you. It is not made available to any other entity outside the Libraries, except as required by law.

Confidentiality of Circulation Records

The George A. Smathers Libraries are committed to protecting the privacy of our users. Our policies conform to the Code of Ethics of the American Library Association, which provides this summation of the library community’s commitment to privacy: “We protect each library user’s right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted.”

Library Staff Responsibilities

Library staff may not divulge the following information about a patron:

  1. Personal information (social security number, address, etc.)
  2. Whether a student is currently enrolled or has ever attended the University of Florida
  3. What an individual has borrowed
  4. Who has specific items on loan

This information is for library business only and may not be used for any other purpose. Any unusual requests involving the confidentiality of borrower information should be referred to the department chair, branch librarian, or desk supervisor. When appropriate, patrons may be referred to the Registrar, the Admissions Office or University Council for patron enquiries. Violations of patron record confidentiality will result in disciplinary measures which may include dismissal.

Florida Statutes Section 257.261

Circulation records are confidential in accordance with Section 257.261 of the Florida Statutes. The Statutes state:
“All registration and circulation records of every public library, except statistical reports of registration and circulation, are confidential and exempt from the provisions of s. 119.07(1) and from s. 24(a) of Art. I of the State Constitution. Except in accordance with proper judicial order, a person may not make known in any manner any information contained in such records, except as provided in this section. As used in this section, the term “registration records” includes any information that a library requires a patron to provide in order to become eligible to borrow books and other materials, and the term “circulation records” includes all information that identifies the patrons who borrow particular books and other materials. This section does not prohibit any library, or any business operating jointly with the library, from disclosing information to municipal or county law enforcement officials, or to judicial officials, for the purpose of recovering overdue books, documents, films, or other items or materials owned or otherwise belonging to the library. In the case of a public library patron under the age of 16, a public library may only release confidential information relating to the parent or guardian of the person under 16. Any person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.”

Federal Law

Public Law 107-56 Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT ACT) Act of 2001.

Section 215 – Access to Certain Business Records for Foreign Intelligence and International Terrorism Investigations
“(a)(1) The Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation or a designee of the Director (whose rank shall be no lower than Assistant Special Agent in Charge) may make an application for an order requiring the production of any tangible things (including books, records, papers, documents, and other items) for an investigation to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities, provided that such investigation of a United States person is not conducted solely upon the basis of activities protected by the first amendment to the Constitution.”


The Department Chair or branch librarian in concert with library administration and University legal and financial officers may undertake disclosure of information to law enforcement or judicial officials, in an effort to recover library materials or collect fines.

Procedures for Law Enforcement Request

  1. Request proper identification from anyone who seeks information about what library materials or electronic information a patron has borrowed or used. Such information will not be disclosed to anyone without legal authorization and proper identification.
  2. Unless required by a valid subpoena, search warrant, or other court order, the library generally may not disclose information about what library materials or electronic information a patron has used or is currently using. Staff should NOT furnish such information to any person requesting it without a valid subpoena, search warrant, or other court order. If the person persists, refer him or her to the Dean of Libraries at 352-273-2505. Staff should call the Office of the Dean of Libraries immediately to alert them about the referral.
  3. Individuals who have a subpoena, search warrant, or other court order should be referred immediately to the Dean of Libraries at 352-273-2505. Staff should call the Office of the Dean of Libraries immediately to them about the referral. Staff should NOT furnish information to any person in response to a subpoena, search warrant, or other court order directed to the University of Florida or the Smathers Libraries. The Office of the Dean of Libraries will respond, working under guidelines of and in concert with the Office of the General Counsel of the University.
  4. If a federal law enforcement or government official demands immediate compliance with a subpoena, search warrant, or other court order, and if the Office of the Dean of Libraries is closed or unavailable, staff should contact the University Police Department at 352-392-1111 and ask to speak with a shift supervisor to verify the credentials of the requesting official and the need for immediate compliance. UPD will assist in attempting to contact the Dean of Libraries and the Office of the General Counsel before any information may be released.