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Video Surveillance

Video Surveillance

Many libraries use video cameras to record and observe the public in key points of the library with the aim of increasing the safety of library patrons and the security of the library building. There are Attorney General’s Opinions (AGO, Simmons, February 24, 2006; Myers, December 28, 1999) stating that persons should not be recorded without their consent and knowledge in circumstances in which they would have a reasonable expectation of privacy. These AG opinions are pertinent to video surveillance because the video records may link the identity of the library user to their use of specific library materials and could be subject to the restrictions imposed by §39-3-365: Confidentiality of library user records:

§ 39-3-365 Confidentiality of library user records:
Records maintained by any library funded in whole or in part by public funds, which contain information relating to the identity of a library user, relative to the user’s use of books or other materials at the library, shall be confidential. Such records may only be released with the express written permission of the respective library user or as the result of a court order.

Therefore, if libraries wish to use video surveillance for safety reasons, they need to display a sign or some other method of notification that the public is subject to surveillance. The Board of Trustees may wish to adopt a policy addressing how video surveillance records are maintained.


Retention of Security Footage

There is not yet a retention schedule developed for security video for any local government entities or state agencies. However, the closest example found is the dispatcher audio tapes for law enforcement and fire personnel (911).  Retention of these is 90 days; “serious incidents may warrant longer retention at the discretion of the local agency” (State of Mississippi Local Government Records GSC 15 05).



American Library Association Council. Privacy: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights. 19 June 2002. Rev. 1 July 2014. Web. 27 June 2016.


American Library Association. Questions and Answers on Privacy and Confidentiality. n.d. Web. 27 June 2016.

Hancock County Public Library. Sample Video Surveillance Policy. n.d.  Web. 27 June 2016.