Privacy is essential to intellectual freedom. The Davidson College Library affirms that faculty, students, and staff of the institution have the right to pursue knowledge on any subject without risk of their interests being examined or scrutinized by others.

Our commitment to your privacy and confidentiality has deep roots not only in law (North Carolina General Statutes § 125-19) also in the ethics and practices of librarianship. In accordance with the American Library Association's Code of Ethics: "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" (Code of Ethics of the American Library Association, article III [adopted June 28, 1997 by the ALA Council; amended January 22, 2008]).

This policy conforms with the Davidson College Data Privacy Statement.

Personally Identifiable Information and its Uses

Confidentiality exists when a library is in possession of personally identifiable information about users and keeps that information private on their behalf.

In order to conduct normal library business, we must collect and maintain some information about our users. If you are affiliated with Davidson College, the library automatically receives personally identifiable information to create and update your library account from the Registrar's Office (for students) or Human Resources (for employees). This information includes:

  • Your name
  • Your college identification number
  • Your address
  • Your email address

To keep track of our inventory and send notices to you, we must record what materials you have checked out. This function is hosted by Ex Libris, Inc. To provide checkout and reminder services, we disclose to our vendor the above information, which they then store.  Information about Ex Libris’ data policies can be found at their trust center website.

We will maintain confidentiality of information sought or received, and materials consulted, borrowed, or acquired, including database search records, reference and consultation interviews, circulation records, interlibrary loan records, and other personally identifiable uses of library materials, facilities, or services. The library maintains several web-based management tools, such as forms for asking reference questions or requesting materials for purchase or through interlibrary loan, etc. The personally identifiable information collected through these tools and stored in library-related computer systems will only be used to maintain your library account and provide services to you and is not made available to any other entity except as necessary to provide services to you or as required by law, as the result of a search warrant, subpoena, or court order.

We contract with other commercial vendors to provide our users access to databases and other electronic sources and tools. Although we do not share information about individual library users with these vendors, they may retain information that you choose to share with them when you use database features like saving search histories or resource preferences and saving or emailing bibliographic citations. It is your responsibility to understand these vendors' privacy policies if you choose to use their services.

In all cases, we avoid creating unnecessary records, we avoid retaining records not needed for the fulfillment of the mission of the library, and we do not engage in practices that might place information on public view.

We ensure that our library's contracts, licenses, and offsite computer service arrangements reflect our policies and legal obligations concerning user privacy and confidentiality. Should a third party require access to our users' personally identifiable information, our agreements address appropriate restrictions on the use, aggregation, dissemination, and sale of that information. In circumstances in which there is a risk that personally identifiable information may be disclosed, we will warn our users. When connecting to licensed databases off campus, we release only information that authenticates users as members of our community. Nevertheless, we advise users of the limits to library privacy protection when accessing remote sites.

We protect personally identifiable information from unauthorized disclosure once it is no longer needed to manage library services. We remove links between patron records and materials borrowed when items are returned and we delete records as soon as the original purpose for data collection or subsequent purpose of service evaluation has been satisfied.


We permit only authorized Library staff with assigned confidential passwords to access personal data for the purpose of performing library work. We will not disclose any personal data we collect from you to any other party except where required by law or to fulfill an individual user's service request. The Library does not sell or lease users' personal information to companies, universities, or individuals.

Our Library will not share data on individuals with third parties unless required by law. We authorize only the Library Director and the college's General Counsel to receive or comply with requests from law enforcement officers; we confer with the General Counsel before determining the proper response. We will not make library records available to any agency of state, federal, or local government unless a subpoena, warrant, court order or other investigatory document is issued by a court of competent jurisdiction that shows good cause and is in proper form. We have trained all library staff and volunteers to refer any law enforcement inquiries to library administrators.

Please note that the library may be obligated to release such information to federal law enforcement agents in response to a search warrant or subpoena issued in accordance with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, 50 USC 1861, as amended by the USA PATRIOT Act (Public Law 107-56 PDF). That law prohibits library staff from informing you that such a request has been received.

Library users who have questions, concerns, or complaints about the library's handling of their privacy and confidentiality rights should file written comments with the Library Director. We will respond in a timely manner and may conduct a privacy investigation or review of policy and procedures.

The Davidson College Library thanks the American Library Association and the libraries of Duke University and Amherst College for permission to use portions of their policies.

The Davidson College Library Privacy Policy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Last reviewed and updated January 2020