ERIC Number: EJ720343
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005-Jun
Reference Count: 7
Protecting User Privacy in the Age of Digital Libraries
Coombs, Karen A.
Computers in Libraries, v25 n6 p16-20 Jun 2005
In this article, the author discusses how she and the other librarians at State University of New York (SUNY) Cortland learned to "scrub" their records so that patrons remained protected, but the librarians still had access to useful statistics. The topic of library privacy regulations is complex. There is a host of legislation at both the federal and state level. Forty-eight states have some laws protecting the privacy of library users, and, at the federal level, the Privacy Act of 1974, the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, and the Children's Online Privacy Protection Action are of interest to libraries. In addition, the Library Bill of Rights and the American Library Association's Code of Ethics both have strong statements regarding libraries and a librarian's responsibilities to user privacy. Furthermore, libraries need to pay attention to privacy issues because they are part of the greater landscape of the Internet, and most commercial Web sites have some sort of privacy statement and policies. With all of this in mind, the author first determined the different types of user information the systems were collecting, and then decided which pieces of data were necessary to maintain the library's mission, and which were being captured without a purpose. Among the strategies developed for removing user-related data were: IP washing, delinking borrower records, using data archiving routines that aggregate the removal of personally identifying user information, and evaluating and selecting possible tools for protecting user privacy.
Descriptors: Electronic Libraries, Librarians, Library Services, Privacy, Ethics, Federal Legislation, State Legislation, Internet, Users (Information)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: New York