Public Records Policy

It is the policy of the Cleveland Public Library to adhere to the Public Records Act of the State of Ohio. All records of the Library that meet the definition of “public records” are public unless they are exempt from disclosure under the Ohio law and federal law, such as under the exemption in Section 149.432 that prohibits the Library from releasing any library records or from disclosing any patron information except in situations specified in that statute.

Cleveland Public Library, in accordance with the Ohio Revised Code, defines records as including the following: Any document – paper, electronic (including, but not limited to, email), or other format – that is created or received by, or comes under the jurisdiction of the Cleveland Public Library that documents the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities of the office. All records of the Cleveland Public Library meeting this definition are public unless they are exempt from disclosure under the Ohio law or federal law.

Upon request, all public records responsive to the request, and not exempt from disclosure, will be promptly prepared and made available for inspection to any person at all reasonable times during regular business hours of the Library’s administrative offices.

The Library will provide copies of the requested public record at cost and within a reasonable period of time. Upon request, the Library will transmit a copy of a public record by mail or by other means of delivery transmission within a reasonable period of time after receiving the request. The requestor will be charged the actual cost of the postage and mailing supplies. The Library may require the requestor to pay in advance the cost involved in providing the copies, including postage.

“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.

To facilitate broader access to its public records, the Library will organize and maintain its public records in a manner that they can be made available in accordance with this policy. The Library’s records retention schedule will be made readily available to the public. The Library’s public record policy may be posted on its website.

All requests for public records will be acknowledged in writing by the Library. The Library’s records custodian will be the Senior Legal Officer. Although no specific language is required to make a request, the requestor must at least identify the records requested with sufficient clarity to allow Cleveland Public Library to identify, retrieve, and review the records. If it is not clear what records are being sought, the records custodian must contact the requestor for clarification, and will assist the requestor in revising the request by informing the requestor of the manner in which the Library keeps its records.

The requestor 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 Cleveland Public Library’s general policy that this information is only to be requested if the written request or disclosure of identity of the requestor or intended use of the record would benefit the requestor by enhancing the ability of the Library to identify, locate or deliver the requested public records, and if the requestor is informed that the written request or disclosure of identity of the requestor or intended use of the record is not mandatory.

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 are to be redacted and the rest released. If there are redactions, each redaction will be accompanied by a supporting explanation, including legal authority. If the initial request was in writing, the explanation also will be provided in writing.

Documents in electronic mail format are records as defined by the Ohio Revised Code when their content relates to the business of the office. Email is to be treated in the same fashion as records in other formats and should follow the same retention schedules.

Approved by the Board of Library Trustees September 20, 2007; amended January 17, 2019

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