It is the policy of Cuyahoga County Public Library that openness leads to a better informed citizenry, which leads to better government and better public policy. It is the policy of Cuyahoga County Public 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
Cuyahoga County 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 Cuyahoga County Public Library that documents the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations or other activities of the office. All records of Cuyahoga County Public Library meeting this definition are public unless they are specifically exempt from disclosure under Ohio law or Federal law.
It is the policy of Cuyahoga County Public 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:
Section 3: Costs for Public Records
Although no specific language is required to make a request, the requester must at least identify the records requested with sufficient clarity to allow Cuyahoga County Public 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 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 Cuyahoga County Public 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 during regular business hours (8:00 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.
Each request should be evaluated for an estimated length of time required to gather the records. Routine requests for records should be satisfied immediately, if feasible to do so. Routine requests include completed meeting minutes, budgets, salary information, forms and applications, and such other records requests that the Board of Trustees determines are “routine.” If any of these records contain exempt material such as social security numbers or other confidential information, they cannot be handled as “routine” requests. If fewer than 20 pages of copies are requested, or if the records are readily available in an electronic format that can be emailed or downloaded easily, these should be made as quickly practicable, taking into account the necessity for any legal review of the records requested. The Library will strive to acknowledge all requests for public records and provide an estimate of the number of business days it will take to satisfy the request within three business days following the records custodian’s receipt of the request.
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.
Those seeking public records will be charged only the actual cost of making copies.
The charge for paper copies is 3 cents per page after the first 10 (free) pages.
The charge for downloaded computer files to a compact disc or electronic storage device is $1.00 per disc.
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: Email
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.
Section 5: Failure to Respond to a Public Records Request
Cuyahoga County 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 Cuyahoga County Public Library to comply with the law and to pay the requester attorney's fees and statutory damages.