Privacy at OPL For All Ages
Oakland Public Library (OPL) values your privacy. We do not collect social security numbers or medical information. The Library will keep other information that it purposefully or inadvertently collects or maintains confidential to our fullest abilities, permitted by federal, state, and local laws. For teens (ages 13-17) and children (ages 8-12), all library information, including materials checked out, is kept confidential unless the child and parent are present or a fee is owed on the materials. For children (ages 0-7), the parent/legal guardian(s) listed on the child's account can update the account and has access to account information.
What information does OPL collect about me?
We store your name, an email or phone number, date of birth, and address. We prefer to also retain your state ID number or other ID number so we can identify you if you lose your card.
What information does OPL collect about my borrowing history?
OPL protects library user account information by placing it on a secure server. We keep very limited records of your borrowing activities. Once you return an item, that information is kept on the item’s record for the rare occasions that we may need to contact you about the item. Once items are returned, your checkout history is not kept on your personal account. If an item is overdue, a record of the title will remain on your account. OPL staff will not access or release Check-out History unless required by law enforcement to do so, with a warrant or subpoena.
As a patron, you may choose to opt in to enable the “Borrowing History” option in your account settings. By doing so, you choose to give explicit consent to storing your check-out history from the opt-in date. Library staff DO NOT have access to the Borrowing History. You can opt out of this service and delete your Borrowing History at any time.
You may check your account online by using an encrypted personal identification number (PIN). This is encrypted for your privacy and staff cannot tell you what your PIN is; you can reset your PIN online on your own without staff involvement.
If you do share your PIN and library card number with any party, you are providing this party access to all details on items you have currently checked out, as well as any personally identifiable information in your library record including your address, phone number, email, birthdate, and ID. If you have turned Borrowing History on, you are also sharing that information as well.
What can I do to safeguard my privacy with OPL?
Change your PIN often. Never write your PIN on your library card!
More of our branches now have holds easily accessible for you to retrieve on your own. To better anonymize holds OPL offers an alias field option for patrons who want to provide an alias for their holds slips; this will print instead of your name. Please ask staff to set this up.
To what extent is my child’s privacy protected?
For children ages 8 and up, unless your child is present, we cannot tell you what your child has checked out, except when a fee is owed. For children ages 0-7, the parents/legal guardians listed on the account have access to the child's information and can update the account.
What happens when I pay OPL fines or replacement fees online?
What happens when I reserve and use one of the library’s computers and print?
MyPC is the third-party software we use to manage computer reservations and sessions; MyPC removes past reservation and session history overnight. When you log out from a library computer, your entire session history and data is removed from that computer, and the next user has no way of accessing your information.
When printing on library printers, your print job data is retained for 24 hours, after which the print job data is automatically deleted. Staff can re-print for you; this is for your convenience only, and only when requested by you.
What happens when I use the library’s wireless network?
For more details about our wireless network, please review the Wireless Internet Policy.
What about OPL’s various online services?
For more information about our website and databases, please review the Website Disclaimer.
Some of the databases and e-content available to you from our web site will require the barcode number from your Oakland Public Library card for verification purposes. We also use third-party services for eBook Help Reservations with SetMore and Online Summer Reading. None of these vendors have access to our records.
OPL offers two email based services, e-Answers for reference questions, and BookMe for personalized reading recommendations. We need your email address to actually respond, as well as any relevant information necessary to respond to your query; we do not share your identity or email address. We do collect usage statistics for these services. All Oakland city employee email correspondence is governed by local laws.
What is Radio-frequency identification (RFID) and how does OPL plan to use this technology?
OPL has implemented RFID on library materials system-wide. The only information stored on the RFID tag is the item barcode and a security bit that indicates if the item is in or out of the library. Our current library cards do not use RFID technology or smart chips; we do not plan to use RFID technology for library cards.
The Library Community Champions Patron Privacy
- ALA Statement on Privacy - the American Library Association (ALA) includes a statement about privacy in its Code of Ethics, and also in Privacy: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights.
- ALA Privacy Guidelines – The Office of Intellectual Freedom released privacy guidelines for online privacy and data management and security.
- Section 215 of the Patriot Act (pdf) – This part of the Patriot Act is also known as the "library provision".
- Library records are protected under California Government Code, Title 1, Division 7, Sections 6250-6270, Chapter 3.5.