Confidentiality Policy


The Drake University Cowles Library recognizes that its circulation records and other records identifying the names of library users with specific materials and/or internet use are confidential in nature. No such confidential information shall be made available to any individual or office of the university, agency of state, federal or local government, or to any individual not specifically authorized by the Dean of Libraries for legitimate business purposes, except where the person whose confidential information is to be released consents or pursuant to such process, order, warrant or subpoena as may be authorized under the authority of and pursuant to, federal, state, or local law relating to civil, criminal, or administrative discovery procedures or legislative investigating power.

A. Notice Regarding USA Patriot Act

The Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 (” USA Patriot Act”) was passed by Congress on October 26, 2001. Although confidential library records have always been subject to disclosure pursuant to lawful process, the USA Patriot Act expands the authority of local, state and federal law enforcement to gain access to educational and library records, including stored electronic data and communications. Cowles Library provides Internet access at workstations located on all floors of the facility and through a wireless network. The USA Patriot Act also expands the ways in which law enforcement officials may track Internet usage and conduct computer network surveillance.

B. Procedure for Compliance with Requests for Confidential Information

When the Library receives an order, warrant, subpoena or other request for confidential information or surveillance, the request will not be handled by student or temporary staff. The request will be referred to the Dean of Libraries or, in his or her absence, the Acting Dean. The Dean shall request a copy of the document specifying what records are requested and will comply with any and all requests in a timely manner. The Dean may consult with legal counsel prior to the release of information.

On weekends, legal holidays, or other times outside of normal university business hours, any request for confidential library information will be referred to the Librarian on duty. The Librarian shall request a copy of the document specifying what records are requested and will comply with any and all requests in a timely manner. The Librarian may consult with legal counsel prior to the release of information.

Cowles Library will document all costs incurred in complying with a records request. If the costs of providing the requested information are more than a nominal amount, the Library will document, and request reimbursement for, the expenses incurred in complying with the request.  The failure of the requesting party to pay such expenses, however, will not be used as a reason for the Library to refuse to comply with any request unless a statute, court order or regulation requires reimbursement of expenses prior to compliance with the request.

Cowles Library will inform the person whose confidential information has been requested or obtained, unless doing so would violate any statute, court order, warrant or subpoena. If the Library provides information to the government pursuant to a USA Patriot Act request, the Library cannot notify anyone, including the person whose confidential information is being provided. The same is true if a non-USA Patriot Act warrant, subpoena or other process forbids the Library to disclose any information about the request. Cowles Library cannot disclose to third parties the fact that confidential information has been requested or obtained on an individual unless the individual consents or the Library is compelled to make the disclosure by order, warrant, subpoena or other process.

Cowles Library reserves the right to voluntarily disclose any circulation records to any person or entity where the Dean of Libraries reasonably believes that an emergency involving immediate danger of death or serious injury justifies the disclosure.

C. Computer Trespassers

Law enforcement or federal agency surveillance or tracking of computer networks or Internet use may be authorized by a designated officer of Cowles Library, without a warrant or court order, when the target of the surveillance is a computer trespasser. A computer trespasser is a person who accesses a protected computer without authorization and thus has no reasonable expectation of privacy in any communication transmitted to, through or from the protected computer. A person who has an existing contractual relationship with the owner or operator of the computer for access to all or part of the protected computer is not a computer trespasser.

For information on the University’s policies for computer use and ethics, see Appendix C to the Code of Student Conduct found in the Drake University Student Handbook.

Additional provisions regarding the privacy of student records and access to student records can be found in the Student Handbook, Part II, under the heading “RIGHT TO PRIVACY ACT“.