Public Records Policy
Openness leads to a better-informed citizenry, which leads to better government and better public policy. It is the policy of the Portsmouth Public Library (“the Library”) to strictly adhere to its obligations under Ohio’s Public Records Law. All records of the Library are public unless they are exempt from disclosure under Ohio or Federal law, such as under the exemption in the Ohio Revised Code Section 149.432 that prohibits the Library from releasing any library records or from disclosing any patron information except in those situations specified in the statute.
Section 1: Public Records
Portsmouth Public Library, in accordance with the Ohio Revised Code, defines records as including the following: Any document – paper, electronic (including, but not limited to, business email) or other format – that is created or received by, or comes under the jurisdiction of the Library that documents the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations or other activities of the office. All records of the Library meeting this definition are public unless they are specifically exempt from disclosure under Ohio law or Federal law.
It is the policy of the Library that, as required by Ohio law, records will be organized and maintained so that they are available for inspection and copying in accordance with the Ohio Public Records law. Current record retention schedules shall also be made available to the public.
Section 2: Record Requests
Each request for public records should be evaluated for a response using the following guidelines:
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 Library to identify, retrieve, and review the records. If it is not clear what records are being sought, the requester will be contacted by a Library records custodian for clarification. The records custodian will assist the requester in revising the request by informing the requester of the manner in which the Library keeps its records. (The records custodian is the office or employee lawfully responsible for the direct custody and care of a public record. The records custodian is not necessarily the original preparer or receiver of the record.)
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 the Library’s general policy that this information is only to be requested if the written request or disclosure of identity of the requester or intended use of the record would benefit the requester by enhancing the ability of the Library to identify, locate or deliver the requested public records, and if the requester is informed that the written request or disclosure of identity of the requester or intended use of the record is not mandatory.
Public records are to be made available for inspection at the Administration Offices located at 1220 Gallia Street, Portsmouth, OH, during regular business hours (10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) with the exception of published holidays. Public records must be made available for inspection promptly. Copies of public records must 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.
Responses to the public record requests will be completed in a reasonable time taking into account the scope of the request, the ease or difficulty of identifying, compiling and reviewing potentially responsive records, and the operational needs of the Library.
- Routine Requests – Routine requests for records should be satisfied in an expedient manner. Routine requests include completed meeting minutes, budgets, salary information, forms and applications, and such other records requests that the Board of Trustees determine are “routine.”
- Non-routine Requests – If a request is beyond “routine”, such as seeking an extensive search of materials, a voluminous number of copies or information that must be researched or calculated, the Library will acknowledge receipt of the request in writing. Further the written acknowledgement must include: 1) an estimate of the time it will take to satisfy the request, 2) an estimated cost to be borne by the requester if the request is fulfilled or if the Library will waive such costs, and 3) identification of the type of items within the responsive records that may be exempt from disclosure and/or subject to redaction.
Any denial of public records requested must include an explanation, including legal authority. If portions of a record are public and portions are exempt, the exempt portions are to be redacted and the rest released. If there are redactions, each redaction must be accompanied by a supporting explanation, including legal authority. If the initial request was in writing, the explanation also shall be provided in writing.
Section 3: Costs for Public Records
Those seeking public records will be charged only the actual cost of making copies.
The charge for paper copies is 10 cents per page.
The charge for downloaded computer files to an electronic storage device is $8.00 per device.
There is no charge for documents that are emailed.
Requesters may ask that documents be mailed to them. They will be charged the actual cost of the postage and mailing supplies.
The Library may require the requester to pay, in advance, the cost involved in providing the copies, including postage.
Section 4: Electronic Records
Records in the form of e-mail, text messaging, and instant messaging, including those sent and received via a hand-held communications device, are to be treated in the same fashion as records in other formats, such as paper or audiotape. Public record content transmitted to or from private accounts or personal devices is subject to disclosure. All employees or representatives of the Library are required to retain their e-mail records and other electronic records in accordance with applicable records retention schedules.
Section 5: Failure to Respond to a Public Records Request
Portsmouth Public Library recognizes that the consequences of failing to respond to a public records request in accordance with the law may result in a court ordering the Library to comply with the law and to pay the requester attorney’s fees and statutory damages.
Section 6: Managing Records:
Portsmouth Public Library’s records are subject to records retentions schedules. The office’s current schedules are available at 1220 Gallia Street, Portsmouth, Ohio 45662, a location readily available to the public as required by § 149.43(B)(2) of the Ohio Revised Code.