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Patron data downloaded without authorization

A recent data breach at Whatcom County Library System (WCLS) that affected some library services also resulted in the unauthorized downloading of Bellingham Public Library patron data. The investigation into this incident is ongoing. At this time, 735 Bellingham Public Library patrons are affected.

Our library and city teams, in collaboration with WCLS, are working swiftly to address this incident. Email and postal mail notifications have been sent to all affected Bellingham Public Library patrons.

What happened

Bellingham Public Library and WCLS share a library catalog and electronic management system through a longstanding contract. On July 11, 2022, WCLS notified us that a file containing some Bellingham Public Library patron data was downloaded without authorization from the WCLS computer network on June 26, 2022.

No data was downloaded directly from Bellingham Public Library or City of Bellingham computer systems. The data downloaded included names, birthdates, library card numbers, and library passwords/PINs. 

We only collect the essential information needed to provide services. We do not store other sensitive patron information, such as credit card information, social security numbers, or additional financial information, so no information of this nature was disclosed in this incident.

What we are doing

We have followed all state and federal requirements for notifying affected individuals, their passwords/PINs were reset, and we continue to take other steps to address this incident.

We take this incident, and patron information confidentiality, security, and privacy, very seriously. Based on our ongoing commitment to keeping patron data safe, we are reviewing and enhancing our security policies, procedures, and data sharing agreements with other libraries and service providers. We are also working closely with WCLS to evaluate additional measures to help protect against future incidents.

For more information about this incident, please contact the Bellingham Public Library Administration at (360) 778-7220 between the hours of 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday – Friday.