Public Records Policy

Resolution #12-8-07

Introduction

Worthington Libraries believes that openness leads to a better informed citizenry, which leads to better government and better public policy. As a result, Worthington Libraries will strictly adhere to the state's Public Records Act. All exemptions to openness are to be construed in their narrowest sense and any denial of public records in response to a valid request will be accompanied by an explanation, including legal authority, as outlined in the Ohio Revised Code. If the request is in writing, the explanation will also be in writing.

Section 1. Public records

Worthington Libraries, in accordance with the Ohio Revised Code, defines records as including the following: Any document – paper, electronic (including, but not limited to, e-mail), or other format – that is created or received by, or comes under the jurisdiction of Worthington Libraries, that documents the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities of the library. All records of Worthington Libraries are public unless they are specifically exempt from disclosure under the Ohio Revised Code.

Section 1.1

It is the policy of Worthington Libraries that, as required by Ohio law, records will be organized and maintained so that they are readily available for inspection and copying (See Section 4 for the e-mail record policy). Record retention schedules are updated regularly and posted prominently.

Section 2. Record requests

A request for records should be directed to the custodian of the records, the Fiscal Officer of the Library. If the Fiscal Officer is not available, the request should be directed to the Business Manager. Each request for public records will be evaluated for a response using the following guidelines:

Section 2.1

Although no specific language is required to make a request, the requester must at least identify the records requested with sufficient clarity to allow the Worthington Libraries to identify, retrieve, and review the records. If it is not clear what records are being sought, the records custodian will contact the requester for clarification, and will assist the requestor in revising the request by informing the requestor of the manner in which Worthington Libraries keeps its records.

Section 2.2

The requester does not have to put a records request in writing, and does not have to provide his or her identity or the intended use of the requested public record. It is Worthington Libraries' general policy that this information will not be requested.

Section 2.3

Public records are to be available for inspection Monday through Friday, during regular business hours (9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.), with the exception of published holidays. Public records will be made available for inspection promptly. Copies of public records will be made available within a reasonable period of time. "Prompt" and "reasonable" take into account the volume of records requested; the proximity of the location where the records are stored; and the necessity for any legal review of the records requested.

Section 2.4

Each request will be evaluated to determine the estimated length of time required to gather the records. Routine requests for records will be satisfied immediately if feasible to do so. Routine requests include, but are not limited to, meeting minutes (both in draft and final form), budgets, salary information, forms and applications, personnel rosters, etc. If fewer than 20 pages of copies are requested or if the records are readily available in an electronic format that can be e-mailed or downloaded easily, these should be made as quickly as the equipment allows. If more copies are requested, an appointment will be made with the requester on when the copies or computer files can be picked up.

All requests for public records must either be satisfied (see Section 2.4) or be acknowledged in writing by the Worthington Libraries within three business days following the office's receipt of the request. If a request is deemed significantly beyond “routine,” such as seeking a voluminous number of copies or requiring extensive research, the acknowledgement must include the following:

Section 2.4a

An estimated number of business days it will take to satisfy the request.

Section 2.4b

An estimated cost if copies are requested.

Section 2.4c

Any items within the request that may be exempt from disclosure.

Section 2.5

Any denial of public records requested will include an explanation, including legal authority. If portions of a record are public and portions are exempt, the exempt portions will be redacted and the rest released. If there are redactions, each redaction will be accompanied by a supporting explanation, including legal authority.

Section 3. Costs for Public Records

Those seeking public records will be charged only the cost to purchase a copy in the library.

Section 3.1

The charge for paper copies is equal to the amount charged per single-sided page at the library's public photocopiers.

Section 3.2

The charge for downloaded computer files to a compact disc is $1.00 per disc.

Section 3.3

There is no charge for documents e-mailed.

Section 3.4

Requesters may ask that documents be mailed to them. They will be charged the actual cost of the postage and mailing supplies. Labor required gathering, preparing, reviewing, and packaging the information for mailing will not be billed.

Section 4. E-mail

Documents in electronic mail format are records as defined by the Ohio Revised Code when their content relates to the business of the office. E-mail is treated in the same fashion as records in other formats and should follow the same retention schedules. It is the practice of Worthington Libraries to print emails with information addressed by the library's records retention schedule so that electronic records do not have to be maintained separately per the records retention schedule.

Section 4.1

Employees of Worthington Libraries are advised not to use personal email accounts for library business. If an employee uses a private e-mail account to conduct public business, those records are subject to disclosure. While not encouraged, all employees or representatives of Worthington Libraries are instructed to retain their personal e-mails that relate to public business in hard-copy (see Section 1 Public Records) or to copy them to their business e-mail accounts and/or to the office's records custodian.

Section 4.2

The records custodian will treat the e-mails from private accounts as records of the public office, filing them in the appropriate way, retaining them per established schedules and making them available for inspection and copying in accordance with the Public Records Act.

Section 5. Failure to respond to a public records request

Worthington Libraries recognizes the legal and non-legal consequences of failure to properly respond to a public records request. In addition to the distrust in government that failure to comply may cause, Worthington Libraries' failure to comply with a request may result in a court ordering Worthington Library to comply with the law and to pay the requester attorney's fees and damages.

Adopted by the Board of Trustees 12-18-07, effective 1-1-08