Exploring the UC Berkeley Library online just got better. Learn more about our reimagined website.

UC Berkeley Library privacy policy

It is the policy of University of California, Berkeley Libraries that the privacy of all users will be respected in compliance with federal and state laws as well as professional standards.

The Library will not reveal personally identifiable information of individual users or reveal what information sources or services they consult under most circumstances. Reasons for disclosure include being required by search warrant or subpoena or if there is a substantiated reason to believe that violations of law or of University, campus, or Library policies have taken place; or when failure to act might result in significant bodily harm or significant property loss. This policy applies to all resources regardless of their format or means of delivery as well as to all services offered by the Library.

All library records and other information relating to an individual's use of the library and its resources are considered confidential. These records include, but are not limited to, circulation records of library materials, address and other registration information, reference or informational questions asked, interlibrary loan transactions, and computer database searches. This information, however, may be consulted and used by library staff in the course of carrying out library business.

Further information on the UC Berkeley Library Policy on the collection, use, and disclosure of electronic information.

User privacy

Privacy details

We consider any information that could reasonably be used to identify you personally as personally identifiable information. This includes, but is not limited to:

  1. Your name
  2. Your address
  3. Your email address
  4. Your PIN (Personal Identification Number)
  5. Your password
  6. Any combination of data that could be used to identify you such as your birth date, your ZIP code and your gender

Protected info

Approved by Library Cabinet: June 2004; last updated: October 5, 2010

Effective July 1, 2003, a new provision was added to the California Information Practices Act - Civil Code 1798.29, 1798.82. This provision requires any state agency (including the University of California) with computerized data containing protected personal information to disclose any breach of security of a system containing such data to any California resident whose unencrypted personal information was, or is reasonably believed to have been acquired by an unauthorized person.

Protected Personal Information is defined by in the civil code as an individual’s first and last name in combination with any of the following:

  • social security number
  • driver's license number
  • California identification card number
  • financial account or credit card number in combina tion with any required security code, access code, or password that would permit access to an individual's financial account
  • medical information
  • health insurance information

It is the UC Berkeley Library’s policy not to collect protected data unless it is deemed necessary in support of Library business. Any collection of this data must be authorized in writing by the University Librarian.

An example of a library business need to collect this information would be to identify a person borrowing library materials (assuming there is no better means to establish this identification).

If the protected data is collected, it is vital for it to have a written articulated disposition schedule that is strictly followed. Protected data is never allowed to be stored on any library server, desktop, laptop computer, or PDA that is connected to a computer network. Protected data in paper format must be secured in a locked drawer or file cabinet. Exceptions to the above must be included in the written approval of the University Librarian.

If a breach is suspected on a computing system that contains or has network access to unencrypted protected data, the data owner must immediately:

  • Remove the computing system from the campus network (e.g., power off the computer, disconnect it from the network jack or wireless network)
  • Send e-mail to the Head of Library IT and to the Help Desk to initiate an analysis of the breach
  • Send e-mail to the Associate University Librarian or Director in charge of the unit

Electronic info

Last updated: September 2008

Freedom of speech and privacy are essential in maintaining and upholding academic freedom. The UC Berkeley Library respects and upholds the privacy of transactions and communications, whether electronic, paper, telephone, or face-to-face.

Access to personally identifiable information1 is restricted to Library staff who need it to conduct Library business2. Personally identifiable information is never used for commercial purposes and is never revealed to a third party except as required and authorized by policy or law. The Library is supported in these practices by national, state and local laws, as well as by University policies.

Except as required by law, users of Library systems and services are informed whenever personally identifiable information other than transactional information will be collected and stored automatically by the system or service. The Library retains personally identifiable information only so long as it is required for operational purposes.

The Library does not routinely inspect, monitor, or disclose records of electronic transactions for other than Library business purposes. The Library adheres to the University policy (Business and Finance Bulletin RMP-8) that prohibits University employees and others from "seeking out, using, or disclosing" personally identifiable information without authorization, and requires employees to take necessary precautions to protect the confidentiality of personally identifiable information encountered in the performance of their duties or otherwise.


1 Personally identifiable information is any information that can be directly or indirectly associated with a known individual. For example, all information contained in personnel, patron, and circulation files is personally identifiable.

2 Library business refers to activities involved in the provision, maintenance, and management of the Library's systems and services to its patrons and staff. Circulating books and journals, enforcing Library contracts, and troubleshooting problems with the Library's e-mail system are all examples of Library business. Trying to discover who used a Library workstation to issue a harassing message would typically not be Library business, however.

In the course of providing you with web-based services, The Library collects and stores certain information automatically through our website. We use this information on an aggregate basis to maintain, enhance or add functionality to our web-based services. It includes:

  • your Internet location (IP address)
  • which pages on our site you visit
  • the URL of the Web page from which you came to our site
  • which software you use to visit our site and its configuration

This type of data is not personally identifiable.

The Library's website links to sites and services outside the administrative domain of the Library. The UC Berkeley Library does not govern the privacy practices of these external sites. Users should read the privacy statements at these sites to determine their practices. When the Library contracts with vendors for access to online content, every attempt is made to include user information protections in the license agreement.

A “cookie” is information stored on your workstation by a server and used to customize your interaction with the web. Some cookies last only for the duration of the session, while others are persistent and reside on a computer's hard drive until the user deletes them or the computer is refreshed. As a matter of policy, cookies are erased from UC Berkeley Library public computers at the beginning of each day.

The UC Berkeley Library uses Google Analytics to capture and analyze web statistics. Google Analytics is a cookie-based analytics program that uses cookies to track website activity. Google Analytics typically collects, at least temporarily, the following information: Network Location; Hostname; web pages requested; referring web page; browser used; screen resolution; date and time. No personal information is stored within cookies. Cookies can be disabled within a browser's preference or option menu.

For more information about Google Analytics, see Google Privacy Center - Privacy Policy.

The Library shall only permit the inspection, monitoring, or disclosure of personally identifiable information for other than Library business purposes: (i) when required by and consistent with law, University policy, or campus policy; (ii) when there is substantiated reason to believe 3 that violations of law or of University, campus, or Library policies have taken place; or (iii) when failure to act might result in significant bodily harm, significant property loss or damage, loss of significant evidence of one or more violations of law or of University policies, or significant liability to the Library, University, or members of the University community.

When under the circumstances described above personally identifiable information must be inspected, monitored, or disclosed, the following shall apply:

  1. Authorization. Except in emergency circumstances, such actions must be authorized in advance and in writing by the University Librarian, or by an Assistant/Associate University Librarian or Director designated by the University Librarian. Authorization shall be limited to the least perusal of content and the least action necessary to resolve the situation.
  2. Emergency circumstances. In emergency circumstances -- circumstances in which delay might precipitate harm, loss, or liability as described in (iii) above -- any Leadership Team member may approve the least perusal of content and the least action necessary to resolve the emergency, immediately and without prior written authorization, but appropriate authorization must then be sought without delay.
  3. Compliance with law. Actions taken shall be in full compliance with the law and other applicable University and campus policies. In particular, actions taken in regard to electronic communications, including e-mail, shall comply with the provisions of the University of California Electronic Communications Policy.

3 Substantiated reason to believe requires reliable evidence, as distinguished from suspicion, rumor, gossip, or other unreliable evidence.

  1. Public records. Records pertaining to the business of the Library, whether or not created or recorded on Library equipment, are University records subject to disclosure under the California Public Records Act, other laws, or as a result of litigation.
  2. Possession of University records. Library employees are expected to comply with requests, properly vetted through University policies and procedures, for copies of records in their possession that pertain to the business of the University, or whose disclosure is required to comply with applicable laws, regardless of whether such records reside on University electronic communications resources.
  3. Unavoidable inspection. During the performance of their duties, personnel who operate and support electronic communications resources periodically need to monitor transmissions or observe certain transactional information to ensure the proper functioning and security of Library systems and services. On these and other occasions, systems personnel might observe personally identifiable information. Except as provided elsewhere in this Policy or by law, they are not permitted to seek out such information where not germane to the foregoing purposes, or disclose or otherwise use what they have observed.

    Such unavoidable inspection of personally identifiable information is limited to the least invasive degree of inspection required to perform such duties. This exception does not exempt systems personnel from the prohibition against disclosure of personal and confidential information.

    Except as provided above, systems personnel shall not intentionally search electronic records or transactional information for violations of law or policy. However, as required by Business and Finance Bulletin G-29, Procedures for Investigating Misuse of University Resources, they shall report violations discovered inadvertently in the course of their duties.

  4. Back-up services. Operators of Library electronic systems shall provide information about back-up procedures to users of those systems upon request.