The policy, Confidentiality of Library Borrower Information, protects the privacy of those who borrow materials and request information from The Seattle Public Library. The Library also protects the privacy of those who use its websites and other electronic services.

The following notice discloses the type of information gathered when visitors use electronic services provided by The Seattle Public Library and how that information is used.

General information gathered
Individual visits to electronic services are logged automatically by servers and software programs are used to summarize data from those visits. The data summaries do not identify individual visitors by name.

Server logs and statistical summaries are reviewed to learn how individual electronic services and Web pages are used in order to improve website content, better manage network traffic and troubleshoot server problems. Examples of statistics gathered include:


  • Referring site or site last visited
  • Time and date of user sessions or visits
  • Browser types and versions in use
  • Operating systems in use
  • Internet Protocol (IP) addresses assigned to Internet service providers

Library Catalog System:

  • Patron log-in totals
  • Number of hold requests placed
  • Number of renewals

Personal information
Individuals may choose to submit their names, email addresses, postal addresses or telephone numbers in order to receive library services, such as registering for library cards, ordering materials, receiving personal responses to questions or being added to specific mailing lists. The Library does not sell, rent or otherwise distribute information to outside companies or organizations unless legally required to do so. For example, library records may be subject to disclosure to law enforcement officials under provisions of the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act (USA PATRIOT Act) and librarians may under some circumstances be forbidden from disclosing that certain records have been requested or obtained.

Members of the public may be mentioned by name on the website, for example, in public meeting agendas and minutes, library event descriptions or photos, as bidders on public projects or as contributors to Web page content.

Cookies are small text files placed on user computers by a website to enable customization of individual visits. Some Library electronic services, such as the Library Catalog and remote databases, place temporary cookies for current sessions. These cookies do not capture personal information or compromise visitor privacy, and are deleted when sessions are ended. Visitors can refuse the cookie by using instructions provided in browsers, which may result in an inability to access some library services from computers outside the Library.

Children's Privacy
The Library is very concerned about the issue of children's privacy. We ask all children using services on our website or on websites affiliated with the Library to limit the amount of personal information they provide. We do not ask for more personal information from children than is necessary to participate in the activity in question.

We encourage all parents and guardians to learn about their children's online activities and to join in their children's exploration of the Internet. We also encourage parents and caregivers to tell their children about the importance of: (i) not revealing personal information online and (ii) asking for permission before giving their last name or personal information to any website.

We want to help parents and guardians make sure that their children have a safe and fun online experience. For this reason, we ask parents or guardians to give their online or written consent before we collect personal information from any child who is under 13 years old. We also will remove your child's personal information from our site at your request. Contact us by phone (206-386-4636) or email to request that we remove your child's information.

Interacting with the Library Online
Library users have many opportunities to interact with the Library online. We treat our customers with respect and expect the same in return. Here are some guidelines for online conduct.

What You Can Expect of Us
We exercise editorial control on our social media platforms to support our aim to create online communities around the Library and its services. We will keep our library communities like our libraries: a safe and supportive environment.

Public postings do not indicate Library endorsement of the ideas, issues, hyperlinks or commentary posted. Additionally, endorsement is not implied via "following," "friending," or otherwise linking to other online entities.

What We Expect of You
The following will not be tolerated when interacting with the Library and/or its users online:

  • Potentially libelous comments
  • Profane language or content
  • Content that promotes, fosters or perpetuates discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, citizenship status, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, age, religion, political ideology, veteran status, marital status or sensory, physical or mental disability
  • Obscene or racist comments
  • Sexual content or links to sexual content
  • Conduct or encouragement of illegal activity
  • Personal attacks, harassment, insults or threatening language
  • Comments not topically related to the particular issue presented
  • Repetitive posts of the same material that disrupt normal operation of the forum
  • Hyperlinks to material not directly related to the discussion or Library
  • Information that may tend to compromise the safety or security of the public or public systems
  • Content that violates a legal ownership interest of any other party
  • Postings of, or request for, personal information, such as phone number, address, financial accounts, etc.
  • Impersonation of someone else
  • Commercial messages, including advertisements and solicitations and spam
  • Support for or opposition to political campaigns or ballot measures

Posts, reviews or any public commentary containing any of the above will be deleted. Multiple violations may result in the restriction of your ability to interact with the Library on social media.

In the case of chat, text or e-mail services, if you use abusive or inappropriate language, we will terminate the session and take appropriate action. We respect the privacy of your identity; however, persons making threats or using offensive language may be reported to the appropriate authorities.

By posting a review or comment, participants agree to indemnify the Library and its officers and employees from and against all liabilities, judgments, damages and costs (including attorney fees) incurred by any of them which arise out of or are related to the content that you post. All postings are public records under RCW Chapter 42.56.

Third-Party Partners
The Library has teamed up with reputable third-party partners to provide certain online services to its patrons, such as the Calendar, Homework Help and Summer Reading. The information you submit to the Library may be provided to those third parties on a confidential basis so they can assist us in providing these services. In cases where patrons leave the Library's website to visit one of its partners' websites, they are encouraged to learn about the privacy policies of the websites they visit.

Outside Sites
The Library's website includes selected links to outside sites. Those sites may have different privacy statements and the Library's notice does not apply. The Library is not responsible for protecting personal information gathered by outside websites. See also a related policy, Public Use of the Internet.

The Seattle Public Library has taken reasonable steps to safeguard the integrity of its data and prevent unauthorized access to information it maintains, including but not limited to authentication, monitoring, and auditing. Security measures have been integrated into the design, implementation and day-to-day practices of the entire operating environment as part of its continuing commitment to risk management. These measures are intended to prevent corruption of data, block unknown or unauthorized access to our systems and information, and to provide reasonable protection of private information in our possession.