Openness leads to a better informed citizenry, which leads to better government and better public policy. The records maintained by the Ritter Public Library and the ability to access them are important to maintain trust between the public and Ritter Public Library.
It is the policy of the Ritter 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.
Definition of Public Records
Ritter Public Library, in accordance with the Ohio Revised Code, defines public records as: 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 Ritter Public Library that documents the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities of the office. All records of the Ritter Public Library meeting this definition are public unless they are exempt from disclosure under 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.
The Library will provide copies of the requested public record at 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, the necessity for any legal review and redaction of the records requested, and other facts and circumstances of the records requested.
It is the goal of Ritter Public Library that all requests for public records should be acknowledged in writing, or if feasible, satisfied within three business days following the library’s receipt of the request.
Although no specific language is required to make a request, the requestor must at least identify the records requested with sufficient clarity to allow Ritter 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 Ritter 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.
In processing a request, the library does not have an obligation to create new records or perform a search or research for information in the library’s records. An electronic record is deemed to exist as long as a computer is already programmed to produce the record through the library’s standard use of sorting, filtering, or querying features.
In processing a request for inspection of a public record, an employee may be assigned to accompany the requester during inspection to make certain original records are not taken or altered.
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.
Denial and Redaction of Records
If the requester makes an ambiguous or overly broad request, the request may be denied, but the library must then provide the requester an opportunity to revise the request by informing the requester of the manner in which records are maintained and accessed by the library.
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.
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.
Copying and Mailing Costs
Those seeking public records may be charged the actual cost of making copies, not labor. The charge for paper copies is $0.25 per page. The charge for electronic files downloaded to a compact disc is $1.00 per disc which will be provided by the library.
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. There is no charge for e-mailed documents.
Ritter Public Library’s records are subject to records retention schedules. The library’s current schedules are available at Ritter Public Library.