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Procedure for employees regarding law enforcement inquiries (sample)

Provided by Bismarck Veterans Memorial Public Library (02/13/08)

What to do if an agent of a federal, state or local law enforcement department comes to the library to request information:

  1. All employees should always get their supervisor. If the request comes when a supervisor is not present, inform the senior reference librarian on duty.

  2. Library personnel should always call the Director, in the Library or at home. If the Director is not available, call the Assistant Director in the Library or at home.

Below is the normal procedure that a supervisor (Library Director, Assistant Director, or stated person in charge) will follow. (Sample copies of a court order and court endorsed subpoena are attached, with the caveat that these vary widely in format.).

If a verified law enforcement agent presents a court order, court-issued search warrant or court-sanctioned subpoena:

We accept the copy of the document and cooperate to provide what they need in compliance with the court sanctioned document.* 

If a verified law enforcement agent presents a subpoena:

We accept the subpoena. (This is a subpoena that has not been court-sanctioned.) Nothing need be given to anyone at the moment. Respond to the officer/agent with a “Thank you, I will give this to the director.” The director and library counsel will follow through as necessary.

If a verified law enforcement agent makes a verbal request:

We do not give out information that connects a patron with library materials or services solely on a verbal request. Contact the director to have him explain the matter. Mention the state law (see Attachment 1) that protects library records.  As you would with any request of this nature, say something like “I’m sorry, but I cannot help you with this information.”

*If possible, make a list of any materials confiscated so that these items can be checked out as “missing”.    

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