MBLC Massachusetts Libraries Portal Privacy Policy

Massachusetts Libraries Portal (or libraries.state.ma.us) is the official consumer portal created by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (“MBLC”), an independent state agency. The establishment of the Massachusetts Libraries Portal site under the Massachusetts Library and Information Network (“MLIN”), was authorized by Chapter 85 of the Acts of 1994.

The following policy applies only to the use of Massachusetts Libraries Portal. In particular, please note that although some of the social media pages used by the MBLC might appear to be part of this website or at a webpage under the MBLC’s control, some of these sites are actually hosted by a third party provider. Thus when visiting these third party social media sites, you are subject to different privacy policies and terms of service. Please review the MBLC’s Social Media Policy to review more detailed information on our use for specific social media sites and for links to the relevant terms of service and privacy policies for those sites.

Your privacy with respect to the Massachusetts Libraries Portal results from a partnership between the MBLC and you, the user. The Board of Library Commissioners endeavors to protect your privacy to the maximum extent possible. As a state agency, some information collected by the Board of Library Commissioners may be subject to disclosure to members of the general public under the M.G.L. c. 66 § 10, (the Public Records Law). Therefore we cannot assure absolute privacy. This policy informs you of the information that we collect from you at this site, and what we do with it, to whom it may be disseminated, and how you can access it. Based on this information, you can make an informed choice about the use of this site. You can maximize the benefits of your privacy partnership with the MBLC by making informed choices about whether to share personally identifiable information with us through this site.

Personally Identifiable Information. We use the term "personally identifiable information" to mean any information that could reasonably be used to identify you, including your name, address, e-mail address, Social Security number, birth date, bank account information, credit card information, or any combination of information that could be used to identify you.

Your use of library resources on this web site, including access to statewide licensed electronic content, such as periodical and newspaper articles, the statewide Commonwealth Catalog, and library reference requests, or requests for subject information sent to the Board of Library Commissioners, will be treated with the same confidentiality as if the request had come to a public library. Thus, although it is important to note that the MBLC is subject to the Public Records Law, information that reveals the identity and intellectual pursuits of a person using a library is exempt from disclosure under the Public Records Law. M.G.L. c. 78 § 7 provides in relevant part:

That part of the records of a public library which reveals the identity and intellectual pursuits of a person using such library shall not be a public record as defined by clause Twenty-sixth of section seven of chapter four.

The MBLC also complies with the Fair Information Practices Act, M.G.L. c. 66A (“FIPA”) and with Executive Order 504, which are both discussed below, with respect to all personally identifiable information collected through the Massachusetts Libraries Portal.

Information Voluntarily Provided by You

This Massachusetts Libraries Portal collects voluntary information from you through the emails that you send through this site and any comments posted on MBLC social media accounts referenced by this Massachusetts Libraries Portal. All such comments and emails sent by you to this Massachusetts Libraries Portal will contain personally identifiable information.

The Information Automatically Collected and Stored by this Website & How it is Used

This Massachusetts Libraries Portal employs the use of "Persistent Cookies." The purpose of these Persistent Cookies is to collect and aggregate data regarding the site’s visitor activity for MBLC to continuously evaluate and update its Massachusetts Libraries Portal services. You may elect to disable the Persistent Cookies. Please be advised that disabling the Persistent Cookies may affect your ability to view or interact with this Massachusetts Libraries Portal. The site also uses temporary "session cookies" to allow visitors to interact with the Massachusetts Libraries Portal and to use online applications. "Session cookies" do not allow us to personally identify a visitor. These cookies are stored only in memory and are deleted when the user's browser is shut down.

Massachusetts Libraries Portal does collect and store indefinitely your Internet Protocol ("IP") address, (which does not identify you as an individual), as well as information about the date and time of your visit, whether a file you have requested exists, and how many "bytes" of information were transmitted to you over the Web from this site. We use your IP address to assess the frequency of visits to this site and the popularity of its various pages and functions. We will not attempt to match any personally identifiable information that you provide to us to your IP address, unless there are reasonable grounds to believe that doing so would provide information that is relevant and material to a criminal investigation.


In addition, we use “Google Analytics” and Matomo (also called Piwik) to collect information about use of this site. Analytics tools collect information such as how often users visit this site, what pages they visit when they do so, and what other sites they used prior to coming to this site. We use the information we get from analytics tools only to improve this site. These analytics tools collect only the IP address assigned to you on the date you visit this site, rather than your name or other identifying information. We do not combine the information collected through the use of analytics with personally identifiable information. Although these Analytics tools plant a persistent cookie on your web browser to identify you as a unique user the next time you visit this site, the cookie cannot be used by anyone but Google and MBLC.

Google’s ability to use and share information collected by Google Analytics about your visits to this site is restricted by the Google Analytics Terms of Use and the Google Privacy Policy. The Google Analytics Terms of Use are available online at https://marketingplatform.google.com/about/analytics/terms/us/. The Google Privacy Policy is available online at https://policies.google.com/privacy. You can prevent Google Analytics from recognizing you on return visits to this site by disabling cookies on your browser.

MBLC’ collection of data through Matomo Analytics is governed by MBLC’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Access to Research and Articles Databases from Home or Office

Home and office access to a number of valuable commercial databases is provided to the residents of the Commonwealth through MBLC Libraries Portal. To comply with the licensing requirements for the commercial databases accessed MBLC Libraries Portal, the MBLC must ensure that before you have access to these databases you are (1) physically within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts by using Geolocation or (2) a Commonwealth of Massachusetts registered library user by using your Library Card Number.

IP Geolocation

Massachusetts Libraries Portal uses a technique called IP Geolocation to determine that the computer you are using is currently within Massachusetts. IP Geolocation provides the Massachusetts Libraries Portal the approximate location (within a 10-15 mile radius) of your computer. Massachusetts Libraries Portal does not store any information from the IP Geolocation service, but uses that information to guide you to the appropriate point of access to statewide database content.

HTML5 Browser-Based Geolocation

You may optionally allow HTML5 geolocation from your browser if IP Geolocation cannot correctly identify your location as being within Massachusetts. Massachusetts Libraries Portal only requests this location information when necessary. We only use the location information to provide access to statewide magazine and newspaper databases and, possibly, to offer Massachusetts public library services near to you. We dispose of location information once the task is completed. The information is not stored.

MBLC Libraries portal makes use of the Google Maps API, and anonymously transmits the location coordinates to Google to identify your location. No personally identifiable information is transmitted.

Library Card Numbers

Massachusetts Libraries Portal may authenticate and authorize your use of specific pages or information on the Massachusetts Libraries Portal based on your library card number. Once Massachusetts Libraries Portal has determined that you are a registered borrower of a library, college, or school that is a member of the Massachusetts Library System, you are forwarded to the Resource. A Massachusetts Libraries Portal session management database retains your library card number, the library it is associated with, and the time that you connected to our Research and Articles databases. It does not record either the particular database that you use or the subject of your search. No other personally identifiable information is stored. The information stored in this session database is not used in any other way. The Massachusetts Libraries Portal remote access logs retain only enough information to identify the library or institution to which you belong and the time that you logged on. Massachusetts Libraries Portal does not pass on your library card or user id to the database vendor’s system.

If you choose to have Massachusetts Libraries Portal remember your library card to simplify future logins, the card number will be stored encrypted. No personally identifiable information will be stored.

Dissemination of Your Personally Identifiable Information

We do not sell any personally identifiable information collected through this Massachusetts Libraries Portal. However, once you voluntarily submit personally identifiable information to us its dissemination is governed by Public Records Law, the Fair Information Practices Act (Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 66A), Executive Order 504, M.G.L. c. 78 § 7 and other applicable laws and regulations. For this reason, part or all of the information you send us may be provided to a member of the public in response to a public records request. There are pieces of information, such as usernames and password that are not considered public for the purposes of a public records request. For more information on types of data exempted from disclosure under the Public Records Law, please read the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Public Records Law.

In addition, the information that you voluntarily submit will be disclosed only to Commonwealth employees or officials, or those under contract with the Commonwealth, with a “need to know” for purposes of fulfilling their job responsibilities. The information will be used for such purposes as; answering your questions, responding to any requests for assistance, generating summary statistics about usage, auditing applications and detecting fraud, aiding in the planning, design and development of the Massachusetts Libraries Portal, and fulfilling the Commonwealth's legal obligations.

We will collect and aggregate the information you provide through surveys and through Massachusetts Libraries Portal’s collection of non-personally identifying analytics data to improve services by making them more responsive to your needs. Where appropriate, we may provide the information you submitted voluntarily through an email to the person or affiliate that is the subject of your inquiry, or to a government agency responsible for the matters referred to in your communication.

Your Access and Opportunity to Correct

The “Public Records Law” and the “Fair Information Practices Act” provide you certain rights to get information about you that is in our records. To learn more about the circumstances under which you can get and correct this information, please click on the above references to these laws.


This Massachusetts Libraries Portal uses https encryption for secure communications. You should not send information that you consider highly sensitive through this Massachusetts Libraries Portal. We use standard security measures to ensure that personally identifiable information sent via the social media pages or email is not lost, misused, altered, or unintentionally destroyed. We also use software programs to monitor network traffic to identify unauthorized attempts to upload or change information, or otherwise cause damage. Except for authorized law enforcement investigations, the MBLC makes no attempts to identify individual users of the Massachusetts Libraries Portal email submission features or MBLC social media pages or their usage habits.

Special protections against misuse of personally identifiable information within Commonwealth offices

Executive Order 504 issued in 2008, which enhanced the privacy protection given to any information about you as a named individual held by the Executive Department of state government. Executive Order 504 limits the collection and dissemination of personally identifiable information within the Executive Department and requires Executive Department agencies to greatly enhance the security and integrity of such data. This website complies with Executive Order 504, so all of the personally identifiable information that you submit to the Massachusetts Libraries Portal is given the privacy protections set forth in Executive Order 504.

Policy Changes

We will post substantive changes to this policy at least 30 days before they take effect. Any information we collect under the current privacy policy will remain subject to the terms of this policy. After any changes take effect, all new information we collect, if any, will be subject to the new policy.


For questions about your privacy while using the Massachusetts Libraries Portal, please contact answers@mblc.state.ma.us.


Cookies are files that a website can place on your computer. A cookie file contains unique information that a website can use to track such things as your password, lists of Web pages you have visited, and the date when you last looked at a specific Web page, or to identify your session at a particular website. A file allows the website to recognize you as you click through pages on the site and when you later revisit the site. A website can use cookies to "remember" your preferences, and to record your browsing behavior on the Web. Although you can prevent websites from placing cookies on your computer by using your browser's preference menu, disabling cookies may affect your ability to view or interact with some websites.

An "Internet Protocol Address" or "IP Address" is a series of numbers that identifies each computer and machine connected to the Internet. An IP address enables a server on a computer network to send you the file that you have requested on the Internet. The IP address disclosed to us may identify the computer from which you are accessing the Internet, or a server owned by your Internet Service Provider. Because it is machine-specific, rather than person-specific, an IP address is not, in and of itself, personally identifiable information.

HTML5 Geolocation” provides approximate current latitude and longitude coordinates from your device. The coordinates may be from a number of sources: GPS coordinates, Wifi access points, cell tower locations, or a local IP address pool and is determined by your device (cell phone, table, or computer).

Social Media.” A social media website is a website on a social media application that is usually maintained by an individual and has regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. A social media identity is a specific user identity that has been registered on a third party social media site and is associated with the Agency. Government social media sites or identities typically provide forums for commentary or news on topics related to the government agency that hosts the social media site or has secured the social media identity. A typical social media site (whether hosted by the Agency or a third party) combines text, images, links to other websites and other media related to the topic and enables readers to leave comments in an interactive format.

Commonwealth Catalog” is an application that enables users to discover and request borrowable material --books, CDs, and DVDs-- from over 400 Massachusetts libraries.

Research and Articles Databases” Licensed commercial magazine, newspaper and reference databases available through a web browser