1989 SESSION 0445B
HOUSE BILL NO. 36
INTRODUCED BY: Rep. Skinner of Rockingham Dist. 21
REFERRED TO: State Institutions and Housing
AN ACT relative to library records confidentiality.
This bill requires that the library user records of all libraries in the state, whether public or private, be confidential and not open to public inspection. Under current law, no such requirement of confidentiality exists. It also exempts public library user records from the Right-to-Know Law, RSA 91-A.
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EXPLANATION: Matter added appears in bold italics.
Matter removed appears in [brackets].
Matter which is repealed and reenacted or all new appears in regular type.
STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
In the year of Our Lord one thousand
nine hundred and eighty-nine
relative to library records confidentiality.
Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Represen-
tatives in General Court convened:
1 Purpose Statement. The Access to Public Records and Meetings Law, RSA 91-A, or Right-to-Know Law, does not include a definition of what constitutes a public record. The New Hampshire supreme court has applied a balancing test to determine whether a record is public by weighing the benefits of disclosure to the public versus the benefits of nondisclosure. By weighing the benefits of allowing disclosure of library user records against the benefits of denial of disclosure, the general court has determined that the benefits of nondisclosure clearly prevail. This act, therefore, exempts library user records from RSA 91-A to ensure that the individual's right to privacy regarding the nature of the library materials used by the individual is not invaded. To protect the right to privacy of all New Hampshire citizens, both public and other than public library records are protected.
2 Library User Records Exempt. Amend RSA 91-A:5, IV to read as follows:
IV. Records pertaining to internal personnel practices; confidential, commercial, or financial information; test questions, scoring keys, and other examination data used to administer a licensing examination, examination for employment, or academic examinations; and personnel, medical, welfare, library user, and other files whose disclosure would constitute invasion of privacy. Without otherwise compromising the confidentiality of the files, nothing in this paragraph shall prohibit a body or agency from releasing information relative to health or safety from investigative files on a limited basis to persons whose health or safety may be affected.
3 New Section; Confidential Library User Records. Amend RSA 201-D by inserting after section 10 the following new section:
201-D:11 Library User Records; Confidentiality.
I. Library records which contain the names or other personal identifying information regarding the users of public or other than public libraries shall be confidential and shall not be disclosed except as provided in paragraph II. Such records include, but are not limited to, library, information system, and archival records related to the circulation and use of library materials or services.
II. Records described in paragraph I may be disclosed to the extent necessary for the proper operation of such libraries and shall be disclosed upon request by or consent of the user or pursuant to subpoena, court order, or where otherwise required by statute.
III. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit any library from releasing statistical information and other data regarding the circulation or use of library materials provided, however, that the identity of the users of such library materials shall be considered confidential and shall not be disclosed to the general public except as provided in paragraph II.
4 Effective Date. This act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.