Freedom of Information Act
Chapter 37 of Title 2.2 of the Code of Virginia, The Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), is a “Sunshine Law,” and its purpose is to help citizens and their government institutions maintain open communication and awareness. FOIA guarantees access to information about the public business conducted by any public body on behalf of its citizens. As an organization supported by public funds, Heritage Public Library is subject to this law, and we welcome inquiries from our community.
- The records and the meetings of any public body or its officers and employees must be available to any citizen unless the records or the meetings are legally exempt.
- “Records” are defined as all written, recorded, typed, printed, photographed, filmed, or electronic data prepared by or received by a public body or its officers, employees or agents while conducting public business.
- A “public body” is any state or local government organization, including councils, boards, commissions, corporations or agencies, supported wholly or principally by public funds.
- Records requests should be as specific as possible, but it isn’t necessary to cite the FOIA to make a request. The format (email, written, .pdf, website post, etc.) of the response received can also be requested. The public body will make every effort to honor your preference.
- There should be a response within five working days, even if that response is a request for more time to answer your request.
- If the public body withholds all or part of a requested record, they must cite the specific FOIA exemption that allows the record to be withheld.
- There may be a fee for filling your request:
“A public body may make reasonable charges not to exceed its actual cost incurred in accessing, duplicating, supplying, or searching for the requested records. No public body shall impose any extraneous, intermediary, or surplus fees or expenses to recoup the general costs associated with creating or maintaining records or transacting the general business of the public body. Any duplicating fee charged by a public body shall not exceed the actual cost of duplication. All charges for the supplying of requested records shall be estimated in advance at the request of the citizen as set forth in subsection F of § 2.2-3704 of the Code of Virginia.”