In 2004/05 the Advisory Council for Library Planning and Development convened a task force to consider possible revisions to the statutes affecting public libraries in Connecticut. The task force consisted of Vicki Baker, Three Rivers Community College and board member of the Otis Library in Norwich, chair; Theresa Conley, Lyme Public Library; Henry Dutcher, Enfield Public Library; Laurel Goodgion, Wethersfield Public Library; Nancy Johmann, Stratford Library Association; Mike Moran, Asnuntuck Community College; Richard Schreiber, Branford; and Louise Brundage, Friends of the Library, Hamden. At the same time the Connecticut Library Association drafted recommended revisions to the library confidentiality provisions of the statutes. The task force endorsed CLA's suggested language and included it in their proposal. The revisions were then presented to the General Assembly in 2006 but failed to pass. The changes were resubmitted to the 2007 session, with the exception of a proposal to modify the criminal statutes to include non-return of library materials in the definition of library theft.
In the final hours of the 2007 session, the General Assembly passed An Act Concerning Public Libraries which included the revisions recommended by the task force, as well as some changes requested by the State Library. Governor Rell signed the bill into law on July 6, 2007. The following are highlights of Public Act 07-227 which became effective July 1, 2007. The complete text may be found at:
The new law expands confidentiality requirements for library records. Current law requires that libraries keep confidential any personally identifiable information contained in their circulation records and exempts such information from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Now, any library record, regardless of format, that can be used to identify a library user or link a user to a library transaction is exempt from disclosure. It bars a library from releasing the information to a third party without (1) a court order or (2) written permission from the library user. The bill's confidentiality requirement applies to any library that is regularly open to the public, including public and private libraries; libraries maintained by industrial, commercial, or other associations or groups; and libraries maintained by state or local government agencies. The confidentiality requirements do not apply to:
- records maintained by school or higher education institution libraries
- records disclosed to officers, employees, and agents of the library, as necessary for operation of the library
- statistical reports regarding library registration and use of materials that do not contain personally identifying information.
These changes have many implications for public libraries. The State Library will be providing some guidance in the near future either on WebJunction or through training. We are soliciting legal advice on some of the more complex issues involved. Stay tuned.
Public Library Directors and Trustees
The new law eliminates antiquated language for library positions by designating the members of library governing boards as trustees and the administrative heads as library directors, thus eliminating confusion between local librarians, the state librarian and library directors and library boards of directors.
Advisory Council for Library Planning and Development (ACLPD)
The act now allows members of the Advisory Council for Library Planning and Development to be reappointed for additional two-year terms after serving two consecutive terms and taking at least a one-year break in service.
Grants to Public Libraries
The revision cleans up language in the section, eliminating confusing sections made necessary by changes to the law in the 1980's. It also added language strengthening the requirements for free library service in order to qualify for the grants to public libraries. The Act requires that public libraries "not charge for borrowing and lending library materials, accessing information, advice and assistance and programs and services which promote literacy." It also adds language that the "grant may be used for general library purposes and no portion of the grant money shall revert to the general fund of the town or towns normally served by such library." This provision makes it consistent with the language for Connecticard grants.
State Library Board Certificates
The act repeals a law allowing the State Library Board to award certificates to Connecticut librarians. This provision predated the common requirement for librarians to hold Masters of Library Science degrees.
The bill eliminates a statute that explicitly authorizes town clerks to deposit any books in their custody, other than records, in the public library.
Library Service Center Advisory Boards
Due to the obsolescence of the statute, the new act eliminates the provision for advisory boards of governors for the library service centers.
State Publication Collection
The bill expands the State Library's state publications collection to include state agency publications produced in electronic and other intangible formats. By law, the library must administer the collection, which under current law includes only publications that are printed or published by or under the direction of a state agency or any other agency supported by state funds. The bill refers to printed state publications as "tangible" publications and to electronic or digital publications as "intangible" ones.
The definition of state publications was expanded to include any document issued by a state agency that is available to the public. It expressly includes legislatively mandated reports and interoffice memos. It exempts "routine" correspondence.
State Library is now required to provide permanent public access to the tangible publications collection and to a digital archive of the intangible publications. It requires state agencies to notify the State Library of the existence, availability, and location of intangible publications, when the agency publishes them. Agencies are already required to provide the library with copies of their tangible publications.
The requirement that the State Library distribute two copies of each state publication to the Library of Congress and one copy to a designated national or regional research library has been eliminated. It makes the official indexed list of state publications, which the State Library must publish, an annual rather than a quarterly publication. It eliminates a requirement that the library distribute the list on request to other libraries, state agencies, and legislators.
Copies of Official Local Publications
The State Library is required to keep files of official municipal publications for reference. The bill instead requires the library to keep copies of the tangible municipal publications which town, city, and borough clerks must, by law, supply. The bill also requires the clerks to notify the library of the existence, availability, and location of any intangible publications when they are published.
The law requires town, city, and borough clerks to file copies of charters, charter amendments, ordinances, and home rule ordinances with the secretary of the state, the State Library, and various other law libraries. The bill requires clerks to provide these documents when they are published in an electronic or digital form.
State Library Board
The bill eliminates the requirement that the State Library Board report to the General Assembly every two years.
The bill allows the state librarian to make contracts to help him perform his duties. The contracts are subject to the attorney general's approval and must be within available appropriations or public or private funds. There is no longer a requirement that the State Library Board approve the state librarian's staff appointments and book and library material purchases for the State Library.
The State Librarian will no longer have responsibility to help local public libraries to select books. The bill also eliminates the State Librarian's authority to (a) buy and arrange for loans of pictures and books to public libraries, schools, and similar organizations he selects and the State Library Board approves, and (b) advise and assist libraries in the state's charitable and correctional institutions, according to rules established by the institutions' directors. These were all obsolete provisions of the library statutes that dated back to the early years of the Public Library Commission.
Sharon Brettschneider, Division of Library Development
CONNector, July 2007