ADMINISTRATION OF GOVERNMENT: VIRGINIA
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT.
Records’ custodian has
discretion to determine whether to release to minor’s parent
library records for purpose of identifying books checked out by
minor that are overdue.
The Honorable Robert G. Marshall
Member, House of Delegates
February 25, 2002
You request an interpretation of § 2.2-3705(A)(10) of
the Code of Virginia, a portion of The Virginia Freedom of
Information Act,1 regarding disclosure
of library records.2
Though you request that no fact be determinative of this
opinion, you relate, as an example, that a minor has a library card
separate from his parent,3 and that
liability for fines incurred by the minor lies with the parent. You
ask whether the library may allow the parent access to library
records for the purpose of identifying and locating books checked
out by the minor that are overdue.
Section 2.2-3700(B) of The Virginia Freedom of Information Act
"ensures the people of the Commonwealth ready access to records in
the custody of public officials." Section 2.2-3705(A) excludes
certain records from the mandatory disclosure requirements of the
Act, but also provides that the records "may be disclosed by the
custodian in his discretion, except where such disclosure is
prohibited by law." Section 2.2-3705(A)(10) specifically excludes
"[l]ibrary records that can be used to identify both (i) any
library patron who has borrowed material from a library and
(ii) the material such patron borrowed."
Section 2.2-3700(B) also provides that "[t]he provisions of [The
Virginia Freedom of Information Act] shall be liberally construed."
Further, § 2.2-3700(B) requires that "[a]ny exemption
from public access to records shall be narrowly construed
and no record shall be withheld to the public unless
specifically made exempt pursuant to the [Act] or other specific
provision of law."
You relate that the parent desires access to library records to
determine the books checked out by the minor that are overdue. The
library records at issue are excluded from the mandatory disclosure
requirements of the Act by the precise language of
§ 2.2-3705(A)(10).4 Records
excluded from the mandatory disclosure provisions of the Act,
however, may be disclosed unless "such disclosure is prohibited by
law."5 I am aware of no other law which
prohibits the release of library records. Therefore, pursuant to
§ 2.2-3705(A), it is within the discretion of the
records’ custodian whether to release the library records at
issue to the minor’s parent.
1. Va. Code Ann. tit. 2.2, ch. 37,
§§ 2.2-3700 to 2.2-3714 (LexisNexis Repl. Vol.
2. You inquire regarding § 2.1-342.01,
which has been recodified at § 2.2-3705. See 2001
Va. Acts ch. 844, at 1194, 1396-1410 (revising and recodifying
Virginia Freedom of Information Act).
3. Where the singular term "parent" is used in
this opinion, it shall also include the plural of that term.
4. See, e.g., 1989
Op. Va. Att’y Gen. 17, 19 (concluding that Virginia
Freedom of Information Act does not require college librarian to
disclose books borrowed from library).
5. Section 2.2-3705(A).