Farmington Library trustees look into release of patron data

Farmington Community Library officials are looking into why documents containing patron IP (Internet Protocol) addresses were released as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

The FOIA request from a representative of Restore the Farmington Community Library sought raw data from surveys conducted last year by Pepper Consulting. The grassroots group was formed after most staff members were furloughed in April.

The surveys of community residents and staff were part of an assessment designed to help trustees with strategic planning.

Farmington Voice also requested the data. Both organizations were informed that that the request would cost $680. Director Riti Grover attributed the cost to having an attorney redact personal information.

Library trustees voted in December to cover the fee, but learned during Thursday’s board meeting that respondent IP addresses were included. The Restore group member who received the documents said they redacted the information before sharing them.

Grover said she was “surprised and appalled” by the revelation and asked to see the documents.

“I have great confidence in my staff,” she said. “I’m pretty sure the Excel files that were sent were absolutely secure, and the others were PDF.”

Trustee Megan Stryd said she has seen many redacted documents and couldn’t think of one that didn’t have mistakes.

“That’s not an excuse,” she said. “I’m thankful Riti spoke up and said she would like to learn more about that.”

Board president Jim White said he wants more information about what happened.

“That was our one job, to protect people’s privacy, and if we didn’t do it, that’s very disturbing,” he said.

Also during the meeting, trustees returned from a scheduled closed session and approved a motion to establish a committee that will address employee complaints and concerns. The board may also hire a neutral human resources consultant to create a report.

Danette Duron-Willner, Michele Kelly, and Renee Murphy volunteered to serve on the committee.

Listen to the meeting recording, which includes periods of silence as trustees moved between closed and open sessions:

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