Privacy in the 21st Century: Issues for Public, School, and Academic Libraries

Privacy in the 21st Century: Issues for Public, School, and Academic Libraries

Privacy in the 21st Century: Issues for Public, School, and Academic Libraries

Privacy in the 21st Century: Issues for Public, School, and Academic Libraries


Concentrating on privacy issues in public, school and academic libraries, this title pays particular attention to the effect of technology on personal privacy in these settings. In depth discussions of the laws effecting personal privacy and privacy in library settings will be explored. Recent laws enacted that impact individual privacy are discussed and explained. Special attention is given to the USA Patriot Act. Appendices with core privacy documents, sample privacy and confidentiality policies and outlines for privacy audits to be implemented in staff training situations in all types of libraries will add to the practicality of the book for individual librarians. It will be both a helpful handbook and a guide to encourage further study on these complex issues. Of particular interest is the impact of personal privacy on issues of accessibility to online databases and other online information in academic libraries.


Privacy is the issue of the moment in librarianship, brought forward by relentless changes in technology, law, and social attitudes. Whether it is the question of adopting Radio Frequency Identification Devices (RFIDs) to track book inventory, devising policy to deal with law enforcement inquiries under the USA PATRIOT Act, or addressing a library user's concerns about the use of her personal information, each day finds librarians confronting new questions and new challenges concerning privacy and confidentiality.

Protecting user privacy has long been an integral part of the mission of libraries and librarians. Librarians recognize that privacy is essential to the exercise of free speech, free thought, and free association and, therefore, essential to democracy. Without privacy, the right of every citizen to seek out and receive information anonymously, free from any government interference, is meaningless.

Yet, privacy appears to be one of the most confused and confusing issues in librarianship. Even with the guidance provided by the American Library Association through its policy “Privacy: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights,” questions abound about the legal basis for keeping library records confidential, minors' rights to privacy, records retention policies, and privacy and national security.

But librarians cannot afford to be confused or misinformed about privacy. When a person uses a library, he entrusts the library with his personal information—information about what he chooses to read, view, or listen to, a thumbnail sketch of his intellectual habits. Librarians must take their responsibility to protect this information seriously, and learn to be effective guardians of their users' privacy. Appreciating the history of privacy and intellectual freedom, recognizing what constitutes a privacy violation . . .

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