MeL is committed to protecting the privacy and confidentiality of its users. Like all web and library services, we have access to some information about your use of our system. See below for an explanation of how we collect and use that data.
What information does MeL gather?
Patron registration information: To request materials through the MeLCat Resource Sharing System (MeLCat), you must provide your name and identification information. This information is checked against your home library's patron registration information to determine your eligibility to make MeLCat requests. The information you are asked to provide is determined by your home library and may be transmitted unencrypted. Your personal information is retained at the supplying library until the requested material is returned to them. If you want to make sure your patron registration information is up-to-date, please contact your home library. Your home library staff is responsible for ensuring that your patron registration information is accurate.
Patron email addresses: To use email notification about the availability of the materials you requested, MeLCat needs your email address. MeLCat uses the email address in your home library's patron registration information. The email notification messages sent to you are not cached on the MeL servers.
Drivers license or Michigan ID numbers: Michigan residents who wish to use the commercially-licensed MeL Databases from remote locations (i.e., not in a Michigan school or library) will be asked to authenticate by typing in their Michigan drivers license number or Michigan ID number. MeL does not retain information on drivers license numbers or Michigan ID numbers entered for authentication to use the MeL Databases.
What information is stored on MeL servers?
Patron registration information: Some MeLCat participating libraries store patron registration information on MeL servers. This information is only accessible to authorized library and MeL staff. Backup copies are made for system recovery in case of emergencies. MeL does not permanently retain patron information.
Borrowing information: Information about the materials you have requested is retained until all services for the requests have been completed. Both the supplying library and your home library have access to this information. No history of the materials you have borrowed is kept on MeL servers after the materials have been returned to the supplying libraries and any applicable fines have been cleared at your home library.
Search histories: Search histories are available for staff-only review. The search histories contain search-string information only and are not linked to individual patron-identifying information.
IP addresses: The MeL servers keep a log of IP addresses that access the MeL system. The IP address, the service name (for example, telnet, http, z39.50 server, etc.), date, and time of each session are retained in staff-only-accessible logs. No other session details are retained in the staff logs.
Cookies: Cookies are small pieces of text stored on your computer that provide information to the MeL server necessary for your successful use of some MeL services. Cookies let us know whether you have registered with us and enable us to store such information as search history, records marked for printing or download, and your patron type. No personal information is collected and cookies expire at the end of each session. This expired cookie stays on your computer until you clean it out. A user who does not accept a cookie may not be able to access certain areas of MeL.
Links to third-party sites: MeL provides links to third-party web sites as a service to our users. Please be aware that we cannot control and are not responsible for the information collection practices of such third-party web sites, which may differ from those of MeL. We encourage you to review and understand the privacy policies on those web sites before providing any information to them.
What Information Does MeL Share With Other Organizations?
Patron information gathered by MeL is not made available outside of MeL and its participating libraries except as follows:
Michigan Freedom of Information Act and Michigan Library Privacy Act: MeL and its participating libraries have agreed to abide by the Michigan Library Privacy Act, 1982 PA 455, MCL 397.601 et seq. For text of this statute, go to: Michigan Library Privacy Act. Under the Michigan Library Privacy Act, patron and borrowing records are not subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. Libraries may be ordered by a court to disclose library records, but only "after giving the affected library notice of the request and an opportunity to be heard on the request" (MCL 397.603).
FISA and USA Patriot Act: MeL staff may be asked to provide information in response to legal court orders or subpoenas as required by the Foreign Intelligence Security Act (FISA) and its amendment (USA Patriot Act of 2001, Sections 215 and 216). As required by FISA and its amendment, MeL staff involved in providing the requested library records will not disclose to any person, including the patron whose records were seized, the existence of the court order or the fact that records were produced as a result of the court order.
Only the State Librarian or his/her designee is authorized to receive or comply with requests from law enforcement officers for MeL records. Legal counsel will be consulted whenever possible before determining the proper response.
Commercial vendors: Individual records or log entries gathered by MeL are never sold to or shared with commercial firms. Aggregate data may be shared with MeL vendors to document our use of their services.
What To Do If You Have Questions or Concerns
If you have questions, concerns, or complaints about how MeL maintains the privacy and confidentiality of your personal information, please email to MeLSecurity@mcls.org or mail correspondence to MeL Security, Midwest Collaborative for Library Services, 1407 Rensen, Suite 1, Lansing, Michigan 48910. MeL staff will respond in a timely manner and will consult with the State Librarian's legal adviser before conducting a privacy investigation or reviewing these policies.
Last updated February 10, 2010.