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Use of Video Surveillance Systems


This policy applies to all staff, patrons and visitors to the Bellingham Public Library.


  1. Library promotes safety and security through use of a video surveillance system
    • Selected areas of the library premises are equipped with video cameras that generate live video feeds and may record images.
    • The library’s video surveillance system is part of a larger, multi-building camera system initiated, installed and managed by the City of Bellingham.
    • The video surveillance system is intended to promote the safety and security of the public, library staff and library facilities, support enforcement of the library’s rules of conduct, discourage inappropriate and illegal behavior, and aid in the apprehension and prosecution of offenders.
    • The video surveillance system complements other measures to maintain a safe, secure and welcoming environment in compliance with library policies, city policies and state laws.
  2. Library protects the privacy of its patrons
    • Privacy is essential to the free and unrestricted use of library resources. Patrons have the right to search for and borrow materials without fear of scrutiny.
    • The video surveillance system and any associated recordings shall not be used in a manner which would violate the Bellingham Public Library Confidentiality Policy (5.101), City of Bellingham policies, and other applicable laws and policies including, but not limited to, the Constitution of the United States, the laws of the State of Washington and the American Library Association’s policies.
  3. Cameras shall be located in specifically designated public areas
    • Surveillance cameras will be positioned to safeguard the privacy of patrons and employees.
    • Examples of appropriate locations include the common areas of the library such as entryways, lobbies, hallways, public seating areas, and outside entrances, exits, park properties and parking areas.
    • Surveillance cameras will not be positioned to allow the monitoring of areas where individuals have a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as in restrooms. Additionally, the surveillance cameras will not be positioned to allow the monitoring of patrons checking materials out from the library.
    • Camera locations will be positioned, changed or added only with the permission of the Library Director or authorized designee.
  4. Library posts notice about surveillance system use
    • The library will notify the public and staff that it uses a video surveillance system for monitoring and recording activity in and around the library.
  5. Surveillance system records are managed in accordance with state law
    • Recordings and images from the surveillance system may be retained, maintained and disclosed in a manner consistent with all applicable library policies, city policies and state laws.
    • Recordings which are not related to a specific security incident will generally be maintained for a minimum of 30 days and then automatically deleted.
    • Recordings related to a documented security incident will be maintained for the duration of the investigation or resolution of the matter plus an additional six (6) years.
  6. Surveillance system records may be released
    • Recordings and images created using the surveillance system are public records subject to disclosure under the Public Records Act (RCW 42.56).
    • Any requests for recordings or images will be processed according to City of Bellingham policies and procedures outlined in City of Bellingham Policy Public Disclosure Guidelines (ADM 07.04.01).
    • No requestor shall be denied access to public records for any reason without the express written approval of the city’s Public Records Officer, per ADM 07.04.01.
    • The Library Director or designee may view recordings or images as needed before they are released to monitor for adherence to patron privacy requirements.
  7. Library Board approves and reviews this policy
    • This policy is approved and periodically reviewed, revised or reaffirmed by the Library Board of Trustees.


Title: Use of Video Surveillance Systems
Code: 1 Administrative Services
Chapter: 1.800 Safety
Type of Policy: Departmental
Date Developed: 9 December 2015
Developed by: Janice Keller, Pam Kiesner, James Erb
Approved by: Library Board of Trustees, 19 January 2016
See Also:
Library Policies:
5.101 Confidentiality
City of Bellingham Policies:
ADM 07.00.11 Using Information Technology Resources
ADM 07.04.01 Public Disclosure Guidelines
Codes and Laws:
RCW 42.56 Washington Public Records Act
Chapter 44-14 WAC Public Records Act-Model Rules
Local Government Records Retention Schedules