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Policy on Use of Security Cameras

The University of Maryland Libraries reserves the right to place surveillance cameras within the Library premises where necessary and appropriate to monitor certain public areas, to deter crime, and to improve safety, security, and compliance. This policy applies to facilities maintained and operated by the University of Maryland Libraries including McKeldin Library, Architecture Library, Art Library, Engineering & Physical Sciences Library, Hornbake Library, Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library, Severn Library, and White Memorial Chemistry Library. 

This policy shall not apply to the use of cameras unrelated to surveillance activity in University Libraries, including cameras used by law enforcement in the following manners:  covert operations for the purpose of criminal surveillance; or mobile cameras used in, on, or about law enforcement or parking services vehicles; or body-worn or otherwise portable cameras used during the course of investigations or normal law enforcement functions; or parking enforcement cameras.

The purpose of this policy is to provide guidelines for the use of security cameras in or around University Libraries in a way that enhances security and aids law enforcement while respecting the privacy expectations of members of the University community.

The primary purpose of utilizing security cameras in public areas is to deter crime and to assist law enforcement in enhancing the safety and security of members of the University community and University property, including library collections. The primary use of security cameras will be to record video images for use by law enforcement and other University officials charged with investigating alleged violations of law or University policy.

The existence of this policy does not imply or guarantee that security cameras will be monitored in real time continuously or otherwise.

Responsibilities and authority
Oversight of installation, maintenance, and utilization of security cameras and associated policies, standards, and procedures is the responsibility of the University of Maryland Department of Public Safety.

The Associate Dean for Research and Academic Services, with advice from the Libraries’ Safety and Security Committee, will be responsible for creating and updating this policy statement, working with University Police on the optimal placement of cameras in library buildings, and approving individual Libraries’ staff for access to video camera live feeds and recordings.

Security camera placement
The Department of Public Safety is solely responsible for the oversight of security camera placement in the University Libraries. As such, all installations must be approved by them. University Libraries personnel may work with the Department of Public Safety to ensure optimal placement for the security of library users, staff, and property.

Use of security cameras will be limited to public areas. Video surveillance shall not be conducted in private or staff-only areas of the Libraries unless specifically authorized by University Police pursuant to a search warrant or otherwise. When security cameras are permitted in private areas they will, to the maximum extent possible, be used narrowly to protect persons, money, real or personal property, documents, supplies, or equipment from theft, destruction, or tampering.

Cameras use will be limited to situations and locations that do not violate the reasonable expectation of privacy as defined by law. 

Except in emergency or investigative situations, each library will display a sign that provides notification of the presence of security cameras. This sign will be placed near the primary building or library entrance.

Security camera monitoring and review
The Department of Public Safety may monitor and review security camera feeds and recordings as needed to support investigations and to enhance public safety. It is neither intended nor expected that security cameras will be routinely monitored in real time.

With the prior approval of the Libraries’ Associate Dean for Public Services, other University personnel may monitor and review Libraries’ security camera live feeds and recordings for purposes of public safety. Approved Libraries staff may review security camera live feeds and recordings for purposes of reasonable library operations, for example clearing library buildings at closing or confirming a user’s claim to have returned an item on a certain day or time. Only authorized personnel, as determined by this policy and authorized by the Associate Dean for Public Services, will be involved in, or have access to, security camera data.

Monitoring individuals based on characteristics of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, or other protected classification is prohibited. Seeking out and continuously viewing people becoming intimate in public areas is prohibited.

Use, release, and retention of recorded material
Security camera recordings shall be used by the Department of Public Safety for authorized purposes including enhancing public safety, discouraging theft and other criminal activities, and investigating incidents (including the release of recordings by the Department of Public Safety to external law enforcement agencies in accordance with applicable laws.)

Security cameras shall not be utilized to conduct personnel investigations, such as those related to (but not limited to) work place attendance or work quality. However, the University may utilize routine security camera recordings in support of disciplinary proceedings against employees and/or students, or in a civil suit or other proceeding involving person(s) whose activities are shown on the recording and relate to the proceeding. Information obtained in violation of this policy may not be used in a disciplinary proceeding against a University student or employee.

Requests for release of recorded material set forth in subpoenas or other legal documents compelling disclosure should be submitted to the Office of General Counsel.

Video footage will be retained in accordance with the records retention policies of the University and State of Maryland.

Exceptions Uses of security cameras beyond those described in this security camera policy shall be governed by applicable University policies and procedures. Persons having questions about the use of monitoring cameras not subject to this policy should direct those questions to the Department of Public Safety or the Office of General Counsel.

Learn more about privacy at the University of Maryland Libraries.

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