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Governor Signs Bill to Protect Library Patron Contacts
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July 13, 2011
FROM:           Mike Dillon, CLA Lobbyist
                        Christina DiCaro, CLA Lobbyist
RE:                 News From The Capitol
We are pleased to report that on Tuesday afternoon Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 445 by Senator Joe Simitian, which will ensure that written and electronic patron use information and borrowing records are confidential, and are restricted from disclosure by a public library or a third party that stores information for the library. The law was needed to update the current circulation of records laws to acknowledge the use of modern technology in libraries. For example, many libraries report that they regularly receive reference requests via email and text from patrons seeking materials, and thus these types of transactions, as well as other information necessary to be kept on a patron (address, phone number, books and materials that were checked out, etc.) would be securely held by the library and not eligible for disclosure. Lastly, the bill also recognizes the important privacy needs of patrons who use the library for services such as literacy programs, credit repair, etc. These “class records” would also be prohibited from disclosure. 
The bill’s outstanding author, Senator Joe Simitian, received a call from the Governor’s Office Tuesday afternoon, informing him of the news that the Governor had signed SB 445. In a press release issued by the Senator late yesterday, he said he was “gratified” by the Governor’s signature. The Senator added, “With every passing day, in so many ways, our personal privacy is being steadily eroded. This new law ensures that when we step into the library, virtually or otherwise, our privacy remains protected.”  For those of you tracking such things, the new law will be reflected in Chapter 80, Statutes of 2011, and will be effective January 1, 2012.    A special “thank you” to Governor Brown, Senator Simitian, the bill’s sponsor, Mary Minow, and representatives from CLA – Jane Light, Derek Wolfgram, Melinda Cervantes, Jan Sanders, and Deborah Doyle – who assisted our office as the bill worked its way through the process. 
For CLA members who may be watching developments in the legislature, such as AB 438 by Assemblyman Das Williams (use of private contractors for library services), the legislature will be taking a month-long recess commencing this Friday, July 15th.   The legislature is able to depart on its Summer break usually only when they have successfully passed a state Budget , as they did a few weeks ago. The legislature will return on Monday, August 15th to tackle a robust and compressed calendar of hundreds of bills, prior to the end of the session on midnight on Friday, September 9th