Privacy policy

Click here for a pdf version of this policy.

Policy adopted by the Board of Trustees June 12, 2017

Privacy is essential to the exercise of free speech, free thought and free association (American Library Association). Bethlehem Public Library is committed to protecting the privacy of library users. This Privacy Policy explains what information we collect from users, why we collect the data, how we use it and how we keep it secure. By using our website, downloading our mobile applications or visiting a library location, a library user agrees to this policy. New York State law and our Confidential Records Policy require that the library treat as confidential information about materials users check out and information accessed (NY CPLR Section 4509).

This Privacy Policy may change from time to time, with the revised version posted to our website upon approval by the Board of Trustees. Please check the website for updates.

What information does Bethlehem Public Library collect?

We collect information about users in two ways: directly from the user and from automatically collected network logs. The collection of personally identifiable information is only a matter of routine or policy when necessary for the fulfillment of the mission of the library. We typically keep information only for so long as it is needed for the proper operation of the library and in order to better deliver library services to users. We may retain some information in backup storage systems, hard copy form or as required by law. We collect different types of information from users depending on their chosen level of engagement with our library services and the information needed in order to provide access to those services.

  1. User-provided information. When a user registers for a user account for our library services, we may ask for certain information. When registering for a library card or user account, we offer opportunities to review and, when practical, to update, change or delete some information provided by the user to the library. You can do this at our circulation desk, over the phone at 518-439-9314 or by emailing us at If a library card is deactivated, the user may not be able to continue using certain library services that require a library card. The following are examples of information that a user might be asked to provide to us:
  • Personal information: any information that can personally identify the user, such as name, physical address, email address, phone number, library barcode, birth date and other similar information.
  • Residency verification: information such as driver’s license, other government-issued identification and utility bills containing a postal address.
  • Shared content: includes anything created by a user that the user chooses to make public by using our library services, including tags added to the online catalog or other shared content.
  • Social media information: includes the option of using a social media account and posting content on our social media pages or elsewhere on the Internet, and such information the users allows to be shared with us.
  • Login credentials: includes username and PIN provided as part of the process to use online services and to view a user’s library records at any time by logging into their account.
  • Library record: contains personal information related to the user’s personal use of circulating and non-circulating library materials, including but not limited to computer database searches, interlibrary-loan transactions, reference queries, e-mails, faxes, requests for photocopies of library materials, title reserve requests, and the use of audio-visual materials such as films and music.

We are committed to keeping such information, outlined in the examples above, only as long as needed in order to provide library services.

  1. Information Bethlehem Public Library automatically collects.When a user accesses our library services, such as our website and mobile applications, our computer servers automatically capture and save information electronically about that usage. Examples of information that we may collect include:
  • Internet Protocol (IP)  address
  • Location
  • Kind of web browser or electronic device used
  • Date and time of visit
  • Website that was visited immediately before arriving at our website
  • Pages that a user viewed on our website
  • Certain searches/queries conducted

If using a library device, we may also record the user’s library barcode, time and length of session, as well as the websites visited.  We may also collect the MAC address and name of the Wi-Fi device of users accessing our Wi-Fi network.

Users should be aware that information collected about them through any of the above means may be de-identified and aggregated with information collected about other users. This de-identified and aggregated information cannot be used to reasonably identify an individual.  This information helps the library to administer services, analyze usage, provide security and identify new users of our library services. In addition, it helps us to improve user experience.

How does Bethlehem Public Library use the information collected?

Depending on the library services the user has chosen to use, the following are some examples of the ways we use information in order to provide those services. A user always has the option of whether or not to provide the information being used for such services. The library does not share users’ information for commercial purposes.

  • We use personal information and residency verification to issue library cards. If a user chooses to provide an email address and wishes to receive notifications by email, Bethlehem Public Library may use it to send account alerts and other communications. If a user provides a phone number and wishes to receive alerts at that phone numbers, we may use it to send account alerts and other communications. We use library records to assist in maintaining our collections and to verify records of users’ paid and unpaid fines.
  • We use shared content, login credentials, social media information and library records, as allowed by users and in accordance with the preferences they have established, to deliver enhanced or personalized services.
  • We use personal information, login credentials, and residency verification to provide access to eBooks through our mobile applications.
  • We use personal information when collecting or processing payments and fines.

How do users manage information that Bethlehem Public Library has collected?

Users can manage information by speaking to the circulation or information desk staff over the phone at 518-439-9314 or by emailing  Our information storage systems are configured in a way that helps us to protect information from accidental or malicious destruction.  To that purpose, the information we collect may also be saved in backup storage systems.

When does Bethlehem Public Library share information?

These are the ways Bethlehem Public Library shares information with third-parties:

  1. When users share content with the Bethlehem Public Library community.If a user chooses to share content through our online catalog or social media accounts, the shared content may be publicly accessible.
  2. Third-party library services providers.We use third-party library service providers and technologies to help deliver some of our services.  If and when a user chooses to use such services, we may share information with these third parties, but only as necessary for them to provide services to Bethlehem Public Library users.  We may also display links to third-party services or content. By following links, a user may be providing information (including, but not limited to personal information) directly to a third party, to us, or to both. Users acknowledge and agree that Bethlehem Public Library is not responsible for how those third parties collect or use the information.  We encourage users to review the privacy policies of every third-party website or service that the user visits or uses, including library service providers.
  3. Legal requests. Sometimes the law requires us to share information about a library user, such as if we receive a valid subpoena, warrant or court order.  We may share that information if our careful review leads us to believe that the law, including state privacy law applicable to library records, requires us to do so.

How does Bethlehem Public Library collect and share children’s information?

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) regulates online collection of information from children under the age of 13. See Bethlehem Public Library’s Internet Policy in regard to use of online services and mobile applications by minors.

For more information

Additional questions or concerns about the  Privacy Policy and practices, can be sent via email to

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